DUSK Music Festival officials turn down the volume amid complaints

DUSK Music Festival lowers the volume

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Dusk Music Festival kicks off Saturday and neighbors have already expressed some concerns about the noise.

It’s something they’ve battled since the start of the festival, four years ago. But this year they’re going further to make sure the sound stays near the stage and not surrounding neighborhoods.

Page Repp, Dusk’s founder and festival director, said he is doing whatever he can to help this year’s event run smoothly after a bit of a bumpy past.

“In our first year we had about 20 complaints and in the second year we had two,” Repp said. That was at the festival’s first location at Rillito Park.

He said they learned a lot between the first year and the second, but still had room to grow.

They moved to Armory Park in 2018 and still saw some complaints.

"In real time, we got six the day of the event but after the fact we started talking to neighbors and there were more people that were actually disturbed by it,” he said.

Which is why they spoke with Tucson police, the City of Tucson and neighborhood associations in the area afterward for feedback.

“They were split 50/50,” Repp said about neighborhood association officials. "They agreed to let us try again and said ‘look , if you don’t get it right this time we’re going to have a serious problem.’ So we know what’s at stake, what’s on the line which is why I take this as seriously as I do.”

It’s starts at the stage. The PA system is specifically programmed to have the sound fall off at a specific point. The stage is also 12 feet higher this year which, Repp said, makes a big difference.

"The higher you can get this PA up the better it works to control the sound."

Under the stage the subwoofers are strategically placed in certain directions to control where the sound travels.

“They cancel each other out so when you’re in the front of the audience you can feel exactly how you’re supposed to feel. It cancels out the waves as they go out into the neighborhood.” Repp said.

Further from the stage, technicians are keeping a closer look at the numbers. Microphones are placed on stage, in front of the house booth and around the site to keep an eye on the decibels. There are also five remote monitors out in the nearby neighborhoods.

Sound designer Matt Marcus explained how he tests and monitors the venue’s audio levels prior to Saturday. The monitor works similar to a traffic light. The numbers go from green, yellow and red.

"When the concert is going on what we’re going to aim to have is about 95 decibels [on site] which is kind of a moderately loud level and about 100-105 on stage.” Marcus said.

They even have a set decibel speed limit so if artists go above 99 decibels on the site they can turn it down from a master board.

Repp said Dusk crews are planning to see about 70 to 65 decibels in the surrounding neighborhoods, but will keep a close eye on it.

It’s to make sure this year goes smoothly, or the neighborhood associations could make it the festivals last at Amory Park.

"I respect the neighbors and their wishes and if we’re not able to do a good enough job I think there has to be a serious conversation about moving,” Repp said.

It’ll take till the end of this weekend to know if their hard work paid off, but they’re willing to put in the time to make sure this festival starts on the right note.

To help cut down on complaints, the festival will end an hour earlier on each day. Saturday will go until 11p.m. and Sunday until 10p.m.

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