Case Study: Marquee at The Star

Marquee Sydney is nearing its 10th year of operation. Within the nightclub industry its often joked that nightclub years and dog years are pretty much the same. 10 years as the premier nightclub in Sydney might as well be the equivalent of 20 or 30 years of running for any other type of business. Nightclubs are notorious for bursting on the scene then, like a supernova, flaming out just as quickly. So what’s Marquee’s secret?

Good fundamentals: properly looking after clients (especially returning clients); looking after artists; and maintaining a strong core team. But Marquee’s success is not just boring basics. Marquee is also famous for luring big-name artists to Sydney. Over the years it’s hosted the likes of Avicii, Calvin Harris, just about all the members of the ASAP crew at different times, Drake, Diplo, Steve Aoki, Bruno Mars and many others. The atmosphere at these types of ‘marquee’ gigs is intense, and nothing like a regular club or arena concert. It’s intimate, sweaty, and memorable.

This is the Tao Group DNA — big names and great fundamentals. Tao Group launched Marquee as its Sydney’s first international venture after embedding itself in the New York, and Las Vegas late-night scene. Marquee nightclub dealt with the pandemic by investing in its audio future, align with the Tao Group passion for curated high production value within their venues. It was no surprise that Marquee used the pandemic shutdown to refresh the audio-visual experience of the space.

Three voices were critical to making Marquee's upgrade ambitions a reality. Programming and Artist Relations Manager, Duane Buriani-Gennai; Marketing Manager, Liam Schembri; and Technical Production Manager, Arian Yeganeh.


MARQUEE 

Marquee might be part of a significant international hospitality group but it enjoys a level of autonomy when it comes to how it conducts its operations. There isn’t an international ‘cookie cutter’ template for its technology. Each venue must make the right choice for its tenancy and its territory.

“WE PRIDE OURSELVES ON LONGEVITY, BEATING OUT NEW COMPETITORS IN MARKET BECAUSE OUR STANDARDS ARE JUST CONSISTENTLY HIGHER.”

Duane: The expectation of our technology offering it that it must be the best and that start starts with having the best people. Arian Yeganeh heads our AV team and he’s the best. You can’t get the most from your gear if you don’t have the best techs driving and maintaining it. Arian maintains a vision for Marquee. He can see over the horizon as to where we need to be to stay ahead of the pack.

Arian: I am definitely very passionate about the technology, and I like things done properly — we have high standards. It’s not just the music, it’s how it’s presented and reproduced. The (Marquee) experience is about how we convey the intent of the performer. That’s my job. I’m always striving for perfection and how we might do things better.

Duane: There’s no point booking some of the biggest artists or DJs in the world and having them perform on a substandard system. We’re not a pub that’s just bumping in a PA and calling ourselves a nightclub. We have a reputation as the number one music venue and nightclub in Australia. That’s how we consider ourselves. And if you’re going to be the best, you need to have the best, and then you need to attract the best artists… you have to hold yourself to a high standard.

Arian: It’s all about consistency, right? Around the globe, Tao Group venues consistently have very high-quality audio-visual standards. If you look at the Singapore club, the New York venue, and the Vegas one, they’re all running some serious setups.


DANCEFLOOR ENERGY

Marquee used its Covid-enforced hibernation to upgrade the loudspeaker system for the main room dancefloor. The four-point design is centred around the new L-Acoustics A15 full-range loudspeaker and L-Acoustics KS28 subs. Installed as the first part of a venue-wide audio upgrade that will be rolled out in 2022.

The new A15 full-range loudspeakers combine big-time, flagship performance with a sonic signature typical of the largest line sources deployed in festivals and stadiums. Under the stage KS28 subs take care of the bottom octave.

Duane: The venue is approaching 10 years old, and we wanted to take a fresh look at everything we had. How do we modify, adapt, adjust, improve our offering, including our technology offerings. It was Arian who advocated hardest for the audio upgrade. And for him L-Acoustics was his first choice.

Arian: In my experience, L-Acoustics is the benchmark. It’s on almost every technical rider. The fact we could lead the market with a brand-new series of loudspeaker was a bonus. The A15 is based on the same proven V-DOSC technology, so I knew what I was signing up for, and I was confident it would comfortably carry us through for another 10 or 20 years. To be honest, it was a no brainer. Obviously, the artists come first, again, making sure they’re comfortable. The difference the new system makes is noticeable, even to the audience: they notice there’s a difference, even if they can’t put their finger on it, they know.

Liam: The clarity and power is there. It’s next level. If you’ve bought a pre-sale ticket to see your favourite artist, it could easily be your best night of the year. It’s a big responsibility to provide patrons with an experience they won’t easily forget. The new L-Acoustics A15 PA helps us do that. And it’s a point of difference. No other nightclub in Australia can match what we have. What we have is exceptional.

Arian: It also makes the conversations with tour managers and artists a lot easier. As soon as you tell them about the L-Acoustics A15 system, the conversation changes — they know they’re going to get looked after from a technology perspective.

SYSTEM DESIGN

Marquee’s DJ booth is based on Pioneer playback systems running through a new Pioneer DJM-V10 mixer. New to Pioneer, you can take an AES3 digital output from the mixer at 96k sampling rate. That output runs into the L-Acoustics P1 processor then via AVB to the LA4X amplifiers that power the loudspeaker systems. 

The new A15 loudspeaker is well suited to the tight ceiling height of Marquee. Having backup from the KS28 subwoofers under the front stage makes for powerful and balanced system performance, while minimising spill to adjacent areas.

“Originally, the subs were positioned against the structural column,” Jands’ Gerry Gavros explains. “This arrangement added vibration to the structure, so, we arrayed the subs in the centre of the room under the booth. By doing so we achieved additional directionality, on top of the native rear rejection we’re getting from the KS28’s design.” DJs are treated like royalty with the booth enjoying an L-Acoustics A15 Wide loudspeaker and KS21 sub on either side.



Arian: The V10 mixer is a step up for Pioneer. Pioneer has been renowned for its effects. Now it has the sound quality to match. The fact we can go digital all the way to the amps from the decks has improved the sound quality as well. Jands’ service has been great. Knowing that help is just a phone call away is a great feeling. If there was something that we needed last minute, I know one of their guys will just drive over without any dramas. Service is the biggest thing for me.

Jands provided Arian and Marquee with a system design modelled in L-Acoustics’ Soundvision software. Jands’ L-Acoustics Application Engineer, Scott Harrison, calibrated the system after the installation, with special emphasis on time aligning the PA to place the acoustic focus on the DJ booth.


NEW HORIZONS

After a layoff that’s extended longer and bitten harder than anyone could have imagined, what’s 2022 promising?

Liam: As international borders open up, we’ll have an opportunity to bring back that international talent this club is renowned for. First and foremost, we want to get back to that level of entertainment our guests expect and that we love to provide to them. It’s interesting. We’ve been more conservative, opening after our competitors, so our regulars and VIPs have been to other nightclubs in the meantime. They’re so grateful that we’re back. That’s what we’re hearing. I think Sydney needs Marquee.