SoundGarden Hall in Philadelphia

in Installations

SoundGarden Hall in PhiladelphiaFor SoundGarden Hall, a new venue for live electronic dance, alternative, rock, pop and R&B artists with separate zones for the under-21 and over-21 crowds, owner Mark Marek, who also owns Rumor and G Lounge in downtown Philadelphia, brought in Ian Hoffer of AuRoRa Sound & Light Design in hopes of steering the space back to its glory days.

SoundGarden Hall in PhiladelphiaA BYOB Nightclub

The building had been home to a popular nightclub, Egypt, which ended a 14-year run in 2005 after a fire broke out in an upstairs bathroom. Attempts to bring the crowds back in the late 2000s had only limited success, with Solo, Shampoo and other nightclub brands moving into, then out of, the building.

SoundGarden Hall in PhiladelphiaWith an total capacity of 1,600 and a performance night target of about 900 under-21s and 400 adults, SoundGarden Hall offers two stages within its 25,000 square feet, including a 30-by-20-foot main stage.

SoundGarden Hall in PhiladelphiaThe BYOB nightclub concept has generated some positive buzz online since it was introduced, with reviewers crediting the prices as reasonable ($4 for mixers, $10 for a reserved BYOB spot, $20 for bottle service.)

SoundGarden Hall in PhiladelphiaAllied with LiveNation and others, the club has also drawn some big names and up-and-comers since its late September debut, including Paul van Dyk on Thanksgiving Eve (admission price: $35). Other recent acts include Figure, The Killabits and Foreign Beggars.

Riding the EDM Wave

SoundGarden Hall in PhiladelphiaThe venue, which can be rented during the day for corporate events, also needed to dazzle EDM fans at night. Marek brought in AuRoRa’s Hoffer for both the visuals (there are moving lights, LED fixtures, atmosphere, confetti, laser and blacklight effects) and also for the venue’s sound system.

Hoffer worked out a detailed plan over a two-week span, which Marek accepted in mid-July. Hoffer had from that day until late September, when the first act was due to take the stage, to complete the design and installation and bring a world-class nightclub to life.

SoundGarden Hall in Philadelphia“I am used to having these types of crazy schedules thrown on me,” says Hoffer, who worked on Marek’s Rumor project before taking on SoundGarden. Other projects — Dusk in Atlantic City and 21 Bar in Philadelphia — also had tight time frames for design and installation.

“What helped in designing SoundGarden Hall was that I had previously worked on Egypt, so I was already familiar with the space and all of the electrical framework,” Hoffer says.

Although the building itself had “plenty of power,” Hoffer notes that “extensive work was required” to prepare for the new lighting and sound systems and bring the venue up to code.

SoundGarden Hall in PhiladelphiaNew and Older Gear

Along with the time constraints and the electrical reconfiguration, Hoffer needed to find a way to stay within budget while not compromising on the overall design. He opted for a blend of newer and older gear to make that happen, crediting Dataflash strobes from High End Systems as an example of an older fixture that can still do the job.

“Not much has changed in strobes, and the Dataflash is rock-solid,” Hoffer says. “It didn’t hurt that I had a couple laying around waiting for their time to shine,” he adds.

SoundGarden Hall in PhiladelphiaAlthough there are some other “oldies but goodies” in the overall rig, the main dance floor is lit with the intense beam effects from Elation’s new Platinum Beam 5R. Other fixtures lighting the club include Elation’s Opti Tri 30s and LED Pars, Martin MAC 250s and HES Color Pro HX fixtures.

In addition to the Dataflashes, there are Diversitronics DS-5 and Mark 3600 strobes, Elation UV Wash fixtures, Altman Blacklight UV 705 fixtures and Diversitronics Mark 12 rotating beacons. There’s also X-Laser X-Beam RGB 2.3W laser projector that gets occasional use.

SoundGarden Hall in PhiladelphiaAlong with a Doug Fleenor Design DMX relay to control the rotating beacons, Hoffer set up an MA onPC command wing for overall control. “I am using a MIDI fighter MIDI controller with the MA command wing — since there are no ‘X Keys’ on the command, this gives me a substitute for triggering strobes and so on,” he says.

DJ and Video Elements

SoundGarden Hall features custom-built DJ tables made with Global Truss box truss sections and acrylic tops, and a Panasonic AG-HCK10G HD camera captures I-Mag of the performers and crowd, beamed via 4200-lumen projectors.

The HD POV cam is compact enough to fit unobtrusively on one of the lighting pipes, and it can be controlled from the booth for recording as well as projection.

A pricey video switcher (about $5,000) had to be swapped for an inexpensive HDMI matrix router ($500), but Hoffer says that was one of very few compromises imposed by budget constraints.

SoundGarden Hall also features Daktronics digital signage outdoors, and is now discussing the use of flying systems or swings for performers in the future.


SoundGarden Hall


1 MA Lighting onPC Command Wing

44 Elation Platinum Beam 5R fixtures

48 Elation Opti Tri 30 fixtures

2 Elation Opti 30 UV fixtures

10 Elation LED Pars

10 Elation UV Wash fixtures

4 Martin MAC 250 Beam fixtures

2 Martin MAC 250 Wash fixtures

2 High End Systems Color Pro HXs

4 Par 64s (1K)

2 Altman Blacklight UV 705s

12 High End Systems DataFlash

12 Diversitronics DS-5 strobes

2 Diversitronics Mark 3600 strobes

8 Diversitronics Mark 12 rotating

1 Reel EFX DF-50 hazer

1 High End F-100 fogger

2 Confetti cannons