The building that houses Oasis in San Francisco has a rich history. From bath-house complete with swimming pool and retractable roof, to its current incarnation as a nightclub offering superstar drag shows and cabaret performances, Oasis has been a staple of the city’s LGBTQ nightlife scene since the late 1970s.
In 2014, the venue was taken over by actor, writer, musician, director and producer, D’Arcy Drollinger and three partners, including drag legend, Heklina, and began a new era of entertainment that continues to go strength to strength. The club operates in two different modes. A variety of cabaret entertainment including music, theater, comedy, storytelling and burlesque take place during the evening, before the venue transforms into a full night club setup, hosting night-long parties which often feature additional live performances.
When Oasis was forced to close during the Coronavirus pandemic, it took the opportunity to refurbish the Champagne Lounge, one of the club’s ancillary spaces, before planning to return with an ambitious production of The Rocky Horror Show. In order to support what would be an immersive event staged in multiple spaces across the venue, D’Arcy took the decision to bring in a high-quality audio system into the Lounge for the show’s run, with a view to a permanent install in the future. D’Arcy consulted with CODA Audio USA’s Sarah Phykitt, a long time associate and former production manager at Oasis. Phykitt and CODA Audio Technical Director Michael Creason were given a simple brief by the club owner – “Make it sound fabulous!”
The CODA team set about designing a system that could meet the specific requirements of The Rocky Horror Show Production, as well as the wider demands of the club. Spoken word events and high energy music reinforcement both play an important part at Oasis, so the solution needed to combine exceptional clarity with substantial power.
The team chose the versatile two-way G512-Pro for the mains, complemented by 2 compact G15-Sub extensions positioned under the stage. Two HOPS8 were deployed as stage foldback. Consistent coverage was achieved across the room, while energy was kept away from the bar to enable drinks orders to be made effectively. Given that performers are in front of mains or monitors at all times, the system needed to be very feedback resistant as well as having powerful sub-bass for the ‘club’ elements of the venue.
Phykitt commented: “Nightclubs are always a little tricky. Being sure that the loudspeakers are positioned for optimal coverage while keeping them out of reach of enthusiastic patrons is a must. In this case being able to tuck the subs under the stage worked well for providing some protection – the compact nature of the G15 subs enabled us to achieve this in a very limited space. We also chose to hang the stage fills on off-stage columns rather than at the lip of the stage, keeping them safely away from spilled drinks, while still being really present for vocalists. Those HOPS8 sometimes have some very hot microphones only inches away without any danger of feedback!”
Audience reaction to The Rocky Horror Show was universally positive, with the immersive nature of the show proving to be a great hit with customers. Every show was a sellout, with extra performances added as a result of overwhelming demand. Once completed, D’Arcy and his team had a decision to take about whether to purchase the system as a permanent install for the Champagne Lounge, or revert to the space’s old system. Having heard the system in action during the shows, ultimately, there was no going back, and following positive discussions with CODA’s local supplier Some More Sound, Oasis bought the system. D’Arcy reflects on a very positive step forward:
“Our CODA sound system has completely transformed our ancillary space at the club for the better in ways that I had not anticipated. The impressive quality of the sound has made a huge difference, not only for our performers and DJs, but for our audience as well. It has revolutionized what had essentially been a pass-through into a performance space in its own right.”
Sophia Craven, the club’s Production Manager was equally impressed: “We have noticed several advantages having the CODA system installed – ease of use, reliability, and high gain-before-feedback have made load-ins and sound-checks much more efficient, freeing up staff to really finesse everything, rather than setups going to the wire just before doors opening. The improved sound quality has resulted in patrons staying longer, purchasing more drinks – creating more revenue for the club – and overall having a more positive experience.”
CODA’s Sarah Phykitt is pleased with the performance of the system, citing even coverage and great clarity from front to back: “The nature of the Rocky Horror performances was always going to be an excellent test for the system and its feedback-resistance qualities. It definitely passed with flying colors , and I’ve no doubt that the success of those shows was instrumental in convincing the Oasis decision-makers that it would prove to be a real asset for future productions, as well as the day to day staples at the club. The G512s provide great clarity for vocals while the G15s have enough power to get the party going when it’s time to dance!”
CODA Audio USA continues to build a strong reputation in both the touring and installation markets, growing a committed following of audiophile sound designers and engineers across a wide range of applications who are tuning in to the benefits of the German manufacturer’s powerful, crystal clear and ultra-compact systems. For festivals, theatres, houses of worship and clubs such as Oasis, CODA Audio can, as D’Arcy wished, make it sound fabulous.