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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

ROCKIN’ PARIS FIVE STAGES IN ACTION AT DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL

Taylor Swift: reputation • Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s OTR II Foo Fighters • Stageco US in Profile • Airbeat One Qapital at the Ziggo Dome • Ultra Europe • Parookaville IV SUMMER 2018

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God Bless America! INTERNATIONAL NEWS

IN THIS ISSUE SUMMER 2018 3 STAGECO DÉBUT AT ULTRA EUROPE 4 DOWNLOAD PARIS: C’EST BIEN! Deep inside the French version of the rock and metal classic 12 PAROOKAVILLE Welcome to the windy city 14 AMERICAN PIE Mary Lou Figley discusses the past and present of Stageco US 20 FORGING REPUTATIONS ON THE RUN Touring with Taylor Swift and Beyoncé & Jay-Z 28 LONDON THEME FOR AIRBEAT ONE 32 FOO FIGHTERS: CONCRETE, GOLD & STEEL Live from London Stadium 36 IN THE ROUND AT QAPITAL Cover image © Mark Cunningham

I hope you are enjoying this extraordinarily hot summer as much as we are. At this moment, our crews are building our unique Alpha and Bravo tents at Lowlands, and with many of our current tours now moving out of Europe and over to America, I am reminded of the events in 1992 that led to Mary Lou Figley and I setting up Stageco US – the subject of a feature in this edition. My first meeting with Mary Lou remains unforgettable. We arrived at a bank in Dallas to open an account and there she was, dressed so elegantly in her businesswoman attire, while I was every inch the casual rock’n’roll staging guy. I had the impression that the bank clerk thought we were very dubious pair! We have always followed our clients and Stageco US was one of our better decisions because, just like today, tours would begin either in America or Europe and then cross the Atlantic after a gap of a week or two, so a company such as ours really needs to have a presence on both continents. There was no way that we could predict how the US business would blossom, any more than we were able to ourselves in Belgium at the start. By coming into the picture at a time when stadium tours were still young, we were able help shape this side of the industry and, as the years progressed, the US office evolved to play a major role in our continued growth. Next year is already shaping up to be another very busy one for Stageco but let’s soak up the rest of this summer first! Hedwig De Meyer, Stageco President

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The Electric Daisy Carnival’s flagship event in Las Vegas continues to evolve with the expertise of Stageco US.

Stageco Début at Ultra Europe As Miami’s Ultra Music Festival marks its 20th anniversary this year, evidence of the brand’s successful expansion around the world was compelling at the start of July when the sixth annual Ultra Europe took place. And for the first time, Stageco Deutschland was commissioned to supply and build the staging inside the Stadion Poljud, the historic venue in the Croatian city of Split. Attracting no fewer than 150.000 visitors, Ultra Europe is famous for its high energy EDM festivals and high production values, as well as its lush surroundings – located on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, the event spills over into a number of beach and boat parties across Split and nearby islands. Naturally, the star line-up is a major attraction. This year, the audience witnessed live sets from Armin van Buuren, Tiësto, Carl Cox, The Chainsmokers, David Guetta and more.

Stageco loaded in at the Stadion Poljud on June 30th with crew chief Torsten Friedrich leading a main team of eight, as well as 12 scaffolders and 12 steel hands, to erect the staging structures well ahead of the festival’s first of three days on July 6th. The fruit of their labours was a Stageco 4-Tower roof that provided a performance area of 26m wide. With 12.4m wings built on each side for PA, lighting and video screens, the overall width amounted to 52m with an increased clearance of over 15m, all of which was dismantled with ease in less than 24 hours. Project manager Timo Mathes and R&D engineer Manuel Billian worked together during the build-up to the festival, co-ordinating everything through Stageco’s client, Zagreb’s Promo Logistika d.o.o. ultraeurope.com

Photography © Ultra Europe

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The French edition of Live Nation’s flagship rock and metal festival continues to thrive... with more than a little help from Stageco.

Photography © Mark Cunningham

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to have a job for life. He commented: “Involving Stageco was a very easy decision. Who else could do it? We know a lot of staging companies but I can’t imagine giving this responsibility to anyone but Stageco – they are the most professional and reliable provider, and their engineering processes are very rigorous. “When you hire Stageco, you feel safe and can trust that everything will happen precisely how you want it, and you leave them to the job so that you can worry about other aspects of the production. It’s safe to say that even if this festival had as many as 10 stages, I would want Stageco to build them all.”

Photography © Mark Cunningham

In its third successful year, the French edition of the world-famous Download festival served as solid evidence that rock’n’roll is as alive and relevant as it was in 1980, when its direct predecessor – Monsters Of Rock – forced itself on the unsuspecting English market town of Castle Donington. Launched in 2003 to showcase the best in rock, metal and hardcore, Download expanded in 2016 with Live Nation’s introduction of Download Paris, and Stageco France – as the provider of all five stages – is honoured to have played a major role in the festival’s production since it began. In fact, as long as Igor Dawidowicz steers the ship as production manager, Stageco appears

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Above, clockwise from top left: Project manager Tom Bilsen (right) and crew chief Bart Dewolf plan ahead; Live Nation production manager Igor Dawidowicz; Bart Dewolf at the wheel; stage manager Charlie Boxhall. Opposite page and below right: Guns N’Roses in all their Monday night headlining glory.

Previously hosted at the Hippodrome de Longchamp racecourse, the festival moved last year to a former French Air Force Base at Brétigny-surOrge, 17 miles south of the capital, where the 2018 line-up of more than 70 acts included such greats as Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson, Foo Fighters, Guns N’Roses, Ghost, Volbeat, Korn’s Jonathan Davis and The Offspring. The change of venue, Igor said, offered greater benefits for both the audience and the production team. “Longchamp was a fine location but there were limitations with parking and camping, whereas this old airfield provides 3km of space and the trucks are able to park on concrete or tarmac, which makes a real difference.” THE PROCESS Led by Tom Bilsen, the project manager and also divisional director of Stageco France, the company’s work began at 6am on June 7th when the crew departed from the Tildonk

head office in Belgium, arriving at the festival site five hours later to begin the seven-day load-in and build process, ensuring that everything was showready by the time doors opened at 1.30pm on Friday 15th June, the first of four action-packed days. The Stageco team also included R&D engineer Bart Dekelver and crew chief Bart Dewolf, who co-ordinated a crew of 10 supervisors and local assistance from two cranes with operators, 10 climbers, six scaffolding crew, 10 stage hands and five forklifts with three operators. “All of our crew are licensed to drive the forklifts ourselves,” said Bart. “Therefore, as we know exactly how to handle the equipment and don’t

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Photography © Bart Dewolf

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MAIN STAGE

Engalenc, site co-ordinator Matt Cocuau and British stage manager Charlie Boxhall whose own team looks after all five stages – the Main Stage, Main Stage 2, Warbird Stage, Spitfire Stage and Firefly Stage (see side panels). “I have dealt with all the technical advancing since the festival started in 2016 and, as such, I have a global overview of what’s coming on to the site,” explained Charlie, who also runs the stages at two other major Live Nation events in France that feature Stageco’s work: the Main Square festival and the recently-introduced Paris edition of Lollapalooza. “My dialogue with Stageco began back in December and we started to firm things up around February, always with an open mind and a margin for change, but once I’m on-site all of the major decisions are confirmed. “I arrived four days before the Friday kick-off to manage the final details, like camera platforms in

Top left, clockwise: One of many totem signs across the site; the larger-than-life Dexter, the Download Dog; the Main Stage FOH tower; and more Stageco steel under the glare of the Paris sun. Opposite page: Various stages of the Download Paris build and (bottom left) Stageco’s 11-person crew. STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS

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Photography © Mark Cunningham

always have to explain to the local helpers, it helps to speed things up.” A total of 28 trucks carried Stageco’s equipment to the site and, in order to avoid jamming the backstage area, a sensible logistical plan of despatching vehicles in the correct order is crucial, stated Bart. “That’s one of Tom’s great skills. We get the gear sorted out according to immediate need. Sixteen trucks handle the main stage requirements and by the time everything is offloaded and assembled, we’re ready to advance the next series of trucks for another set of structures. In all of this, we cannot be too rigid with this approach – it helps to maintain flexibility because we might be quicker on one structure than we anticipated. “Compared to many other festival sites, this is reasonably level with minor differences of up to 50cm. This does affect the equipment and we obviously have to remain flexible in the way we build the structures, but an advance site visit will always ensure we are prepared.” MARGIN FOR CHANGE Working closely with Stageco were festival director Armel Campagna, production director Paul

Headliners: Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson, Foo Fighters & Guns N’Roses. Totalling 2,000m2, the Main Stage is 26.35m wide (51.15m to its outer towers) and 19.2m high. The roof carries up to 20 tonnes of production while the stage wings carry 9.5 tonnes of PA, lighting and video equipment.


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MAIN STAGE 2

Headliners: Ghost, Mass Hysteria & The Offspring. Built to ease the flow of changeovers, Main Stage 2 covers 800m2 and is 19m wide (46.8m) and 17.7m high, with a 15 tonne roof weight capacity. The stage wings have a weight loading of 9.5 tonnes.

Photography © Mark Cunningham

the pit and opening up a new area of the stage underworld, which is a science all of its own! It also includes finessing the backstage ramps as soon as I knew more about what certain bands require. Are they coming in with soft-siders, semis or trailers on

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WARBIRD STAGE (3)

Headliners: Converse, Seether, Meshuggah & Perturbator. The Warbird Stage is mostly a scaffolding construction within a tent, and features two pairs of PA and lighting towers. The stage itself is 7.75m high and 20.7m wide to the far edges, while the performance area width is 12.43m.

the back of a bus? The answers to those questions will have some impact on how Stageco’s crew deal with things. “A little reinforcing here and there will often happen. For example, Foo Fighters brought in a drum riser that weighed four tonnes but we were expecting it to weigh half that. It wasn’t a big deal but these things need swift attention.” Charlie, a former Paris citizen for 12 years who has an 18 year old son currently working on the festival, is a true veteran of the touring world. With credentials that date back to the mid-’70s when he was a member of ESP’s staff, Charlie earned his road stripes with Graham Parker & The Rumour, ABBA and Bruce Springsteen, and first encountered Stageco whilst working for Genesis production manager Morris Lyda on the band’s European leg of the Invisible Touch tour in 1987. “I could see just how innovaSTAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS


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SPITFIRE STAGE (4)

Headliners: Vandenberg’s Moonkings, Treponema Pal & Ego Kill Talent. Stage 4 is designed for lightweight applications and has a fold-out platform with scaffolding around it for general performance support. At 8.3m high, this stage features a pair of PA towers and a 3.5m FOH tent.

tive this company was and that spirit of constantly moving forward remains very strong,” he said. As luck would have it, Download Paris 2018 benefitted from hot and sunny weather, however, such fortune cannot be taken for granted and without careful attention a heavy downfall of rain can sometimes bring an outdoor event to a sudden close, as Igor pointed out. “If the weather is bad and your stage skins are not to tension, you risk not being able to keep all the electronics dry and that’s the kind of big issue that can stop a show. One of the many things I admire about Stageco is that their waterproofing techniques are second to none. It’s strange that some people often forget how crucial that is.” As well as all the FOH risers, delay towers, 21 ‘totem’ signage towers across the site and platforms for disabled visitors and video cameras, Stageco built the 6m x 6m support base for the festival’s inflatable three-headed mascot, Dexter the Download Dog, and a huge antenna tower, and also

FIREFLY STAGE (5)

Headliners: Hangman’s Chair, In Search Of Sun & Galactic Empire. Located at the edge of the camping site, Stage 5 offers a multi-purpose solution. A Prolyte roof on four towers with PA positioned on side platforms, its FOH tower whose rear skin doubles as a cinema projection screen.

created Bar Metal – a large, scaffold-based rest area at the edge of the camping site. Pictured opposite, bottom left, the bar area itself is 18.64m wide and 6.23 right, and also includes a Stageco-built DJ platform. Stageco worked alongside sound, lighting and video supplier Dushow, Mojo Barriers and generator provider The Power Shop. When the festival reached its fourth day, the closure of Main Stage 2 and the Spitfire Stage gave Stageco’s crew a head start on the load-out, allowing them to remove a FOH tower and a few minor structures ahead of four very full days of dismantling and re-loading the trucks. Reflecting on a busy week, Tom Bilsen commented: “I am so happy to work with this team and for this festival organisation. They get along so well and understand each other perfectly. We have two more projects to go this summer with the same combination and I’m proud to get this all going.” downloadfestival.fr

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WELCOME TO THE WINDY CITY Eighty thousand dance music fans from more than 40 countries poured into the festival grounds at Weeze Airport in the Lower Rhine region of Germany to create the population of the fictional city Parookaville this July. Arguably more diverse and colourful than ever, the fourth edition of the festival gathered together the best DJ and EDM acts on today’s circuit, from David Guetta and Martin Garrix, to Steve Aoki and Hardwell, with Stageco Nederland returning to supply and build no less than 105 structures, including the 200 metre wide Main Stage and four other stages. The project, managed by Eddie Slotboom with Remco Hakkert active on-site as crew boss, saw Stageco deliver in excess of 800 tons of equipment in over 40 trailers, as well as 875 tons of ballast. “It’s a three-week build schedule, leading up to the opening day on July 20th, and we load-out in around half that time,” said Eddie. Immediately after the festival, on the 23rd, a tornado whipped through Parookaville’s campsite, tearing dozens of tents out of the ground and sending them several metres into the air. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

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Photography © Stageco US

AMERICAN PIE

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Stageco US Vice President Mary Lou Figley digs deep into the company’s origins and keeps us up to date… STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS


15 Axl Rose leads Guns N’Roses on the joint headlining stadium tour with Metallica in 1992... Stageco US’s launch project.

Now more than 25 years into its celebrated existence, Stageco US Inc. is one of a handful of vendors that can claim to have changed the face of live event production in North America. Having passed the quarter century milestone last summer, Mary Lou Figley, the company’s co-founder and vice president, has allowed herself a little time to reflect on the “crazy” journey and its many highlights, and take a fresh look at where Stageco US currently sits within the American staging market. “There are three major players in the States and what sets us apart from the pack is that we are definitely the guys who can do the big custom structures for clients with an artistic vision and are used to getting exactly what they want. That said we’re really good at what we do,” she says, “and we are very fortunate to have great people working for us and to be part of a group that is formed of international offices that each shine in their own ways. “Stageco US and Belgium do the big touring work at a level with considerable international exposure. The Germany office supports us with personnel and lends its own influence. The Dutch office is king of the one-off event in television, dance and many other areas. When you have several hundred one-off jobs in a single year, from the perspective of time, resources and effort, that’s almost more work than touring. I have a great deal of respect for all my colleagues.” In parallel with the progression of its Belgian ‘parent’, the US company story began as the result of a practical necessity and quickly blossomed, gaining worldwide recognition along the way, as well as forming relationships with clients that remain as solid as ever. Stageco’s début in America came in May 1992 when its crew built a stage at Texas Stadium in the small town of Irving for the opening date of Genesis’ We Can’t Dance – a tour that continued

through the States until the end of June. Meanwhile, Stageco had landed the Guns N’ Roses/Metallica co-headlining stadium tour that was due to kick off at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, just 22 days after the last Genesis show. Hedwig De Meyer was faced with a dilemma: would he ship the Genesis system to Belgium for the band’s European leg and send another consignment of steel over for Guns N’ Roses and Metallica… or, alternatively, keep the Genesis steel in the States? “It was one of those classic no-brainers,” recalls Mary Lou. “By retaining the steel here, Hedwig had the basis of a business that could be run as a genuine American satellite of Stageco; one that could support all international tours as well as generate its own local contracts. Hedwig also knew that he needed a US office to handle the administrative activities that go along with running an additional office, so it was then just the case of how to set it all up.” By the time Mary Lou and Hedwig came together, she was a seasoned live event professional with more than 10 years’ experience that began while studying at the University of Colorado. “I worked for an organisation called The Program Council, which is still the producer of on-campus entertain-

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Photography © Peter Still

“It was one of those classic no-brainers... so it was then just the case of how to set it all up.”


16 ment like movie screenings, civic assemblies, small concerts, etc. During the summer, we would put on sizeable stadium shows at Folsom Field and that’s where I cut my teeth in this industry – I was a student and worked the shows, and was climbing steel back then to earn extra money. “When I graduated from college in 1982, I started a job in Denver for Fey Concerts’ production company. Barry Fey was the local promoter and after numerous changes, his company became what is now known as Live Nation. I was just one of the production people who dealt with shows that he promoted in the western states. Fey had another business that owned some steel, so we built basic stages and that was invaluable experience for me. I just jumped into that pool and got completely immersed in the industry and never looked back.” Forced to take jobs outside of rock’n’roll after Fey Concerts suffered a financial hit, Mary Lou was working for a real estate company in the spring of 1990 when she received a life-changing call from Steve Thomas, a mutual site co-ordinator friend of Stageco. She comments: “Steve told me that The Rolling Stones were looking for a site-co for their Urban Jungle European tour. I had my doubts, but Steve convinced me I’d be a good fit. I soon found myself working with all the legends from CPI [Concert Production International], rolling around Europe for the first time in my life. It was Edwin Shirley Staging materials that we used and up to that point I’d never seen any Stageco product, but when I finally did – in Germany – it was an absolute revelation.”

a brave new world for me; it was a huge undertaking in what was at the time largely a male-dominated field. I was privately terrified of the task ahead, but have never turned away from a challenge and just got on with it. “I lived quite modestly in downtown Denver at the time and bought myself a computer to do basic accounting. I contacted a lot of people from the Belgium office, not least Hedwig, Dirk Geerts [Stageco’s then CFO] and Ilse Buedts, asking them endless questions and came up with a plan. “After that first tour with Guns N’ Roses and Metallica, we had amassed so much steel that I needed a location to store it all. Hedwig agreed that it was time to find premises. Fortunately, I had a friend who knew of a place that had been empty for seven years and had almost five acres of space. It was perfect and we agreed the lease terms right there. The place was a steal and we still utilise the property to this day. Slowly but surely, Stageco US began to attract its own contracts and, eventually, it no longer depended on the Belgian-led business to remain viable. Says Mary Lou: “It was nothing like it is now because we were so small, and so was our revenue share, but our presence in the industry grew. When Pope John Paul II came to Denver in August 1993, the event at Cherry Creek State Park [as part of the 8th World Youth Day, the annual event organised by the Catholic Church] was a huge undertaking for us, with our own crew teaming up with the Belgians to build the staging. “Two million kids and parents turned up for this, President Bill Clinton was there, and it was just crazy. This helped set us up for the many large, non-music projects we would later service, and it was an opportunity for the Belgians and Americans to exchange ideas and acquire skills that came from many years of hands-on experience. “The famous Tower system gave us the edge and made a lot of sense to our clients, although when we first brought it over, there was no scaffolding and decking here, but we had a good relationship with the owner of Upfront in Austin, Texas, so we had a deal with him for a couple of years until we were self-sufficient.”

“People realised we could bring a package to the table that couldn’t be found anywhere else.”

FORMALITIES June 18th 1992 witnessed the formal incorporation of Stageco US and the first meeting between Mary Lou and Hedwig, both of whom flew to Dallas especially to finalise the paperwork. “It’s bizarre to think that prior to this, we had only spoken once on the phone. I guess it was meant to be… and it’s a Texas corporation to this day!” Mary Lou noted. “Hedwig and I celebrated with a Mexican dinner that night and the reality of what had actually happened hit me like a truck the next morning. This was SUMMER 2018

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17 Right: Two of the 1990s’ most iconic touring productions: U2’s PopMart and The Rolling Stones’ Bridges To Babylon. Bottom: The custom Cadillac structure.

DANCING DAYS Well into the Millennium, the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) boom and its crown jewel, Insomniac’s aforementioned Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC),

breathed new life into the staging rental market and provided Stageco US with an exciting new set of technical challenges. Mary Lou explains: “Before we starting working with Insomniac, the Dutch office had a big foothold in dance events and they were the first to master the art of these truly outrageous set designs that have been part and parcel of the modern-day dance festival.

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Photography © Mark Fisher/Stufish & Stageco

GROWTH As the ’90s wore on, the client roster grew exponentially with gigantic tours by the likes of Pink Floyd, Tina Turner and Bon Jovi, while 1997 saw both U2 and The Rolling Stones kick off what were then their biggest productions to date. For PopMart, which opened in Las Vegas, the world’s largest LED screen was fixed to Stageco’s expansive steel structure. Meanwhile, the company built the bedrock of Stones’ regal-looking Bridges To Babylon, a tour that broke all of the band’s previous box office records. The spirit of rock’n’roll runs through the veins of Stageco US but the onslaught of corporate projects and sporting events that emerged in the ’90s injected diversity into the company’s portfoilo. “We got involved with BMW who brought us in for a big event they wanted to do in the Arizona desert for their top sales people,” says Mary Lou. “The great thing about working with major brands and clients from the sports world is that you’re often exposed to fresh ideas. That was certainly the case on the Super Bowl and with Cadillac, who planned to design and produce a touring event in 1999 incorporating two custom structure systems, measuring 83’ high and 187’ wide. Until very recently we were using elements of the pyramid structure to build staging for the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas. “That combination of working for rock’n’roll greats and large corporate brands started to bring us a bit of notoriety, as well as keeping our crews engaged across the whole year. People recognised the Stageco name and realised we could bring a package to the table that couldn’t be found anywhere else.”


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Photography © Insomniac, Made In America, Anthony Quintano

Above: Pre-doors, under the unforgiving Las Vegas sun at the 2014 Electric Daisy Carnival. Below: The Philadelphia-based Made In America and Global Citizen in New York’s Central Park.

“We knew about Insomniac and Las Vegas, and had sent materials over there on one occasion, but it was pretty well sewn up by our competitors. However, when Live Nation became a partner with Insomniac in 2013, they wanted to do things a little differently and hired Jake Berry to head the EDC production team. “Jake asked why they were using labour-intensive scaffolding when Stageco’s towers offered such a better, all-round solution, and we’re now in the much-valued position of not only working on the Vegas ‘mothership’ festival, but also building multiple structures for the seasonal EDC events around the States and elsewhere in countries like Mexico and Japan.” “There’s no indication that the popularity of EDM festivals is going to take a dip at any point soon. It’s as strong as ever and the audiences love the fairground atmosphere. From out point of view, the

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best news we’ve had recently is that Insomniac moved the Vegas event from June to May this year, which meant it was possible for the crew to work day shifts without being roasted in the Vegas heat.” HOMES FROM HOME Stageco US is based at two locations that span the country. Its 259,368ft2 office, workshop and warehouse space in Colorado Springs, Colorado is paired to the east with a 49,576ft2 base in Manheim, Pennsylvania which opened in 2009 and is roughly six miles from the buzzing production community of Rock Lititz. Currently holding around 3,540 US tons of steel product in its inventory, the firm currently has a pool of around 40 freelancers and employs 15 full-time staff, including Veronica Dix (accountant), Beth Benson (crew logistics/payroll/IT), Nick Rivas (inventory control), David Lanosga (shop manager) and

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Above, clockwise from top left: Kenny Chesney’s Trip Around The Sun tour In Atlanta; Beyond Wonderland in Mexico; Demi Lovato; Big Sky Brewing’s picturesque, outdoor concert site in Missouri.

“You can be a part of it for as long as I have and still be aware that better things will come.” Hard Summer in Fontana, California, followed by Rolling Loud at Oakland Coliseum in September.” On the touring front, Stageco US’s big guns in the second half of 2018 include Kenny Chesney’s Trip tour with 14 trailers, Foo Fighters, Beyoncé & Jay-Z and, arguably the firm’s biggest challenge, Taylor Swift’s reputation tour. “For Taylor’s tour, both Dirk De Decker and Tom Frederickx gave some invaluable support, along with both the crew chiefs, Hendrik Verdeyen and Jesse Winn. I always like teaming up with Dirk. We’ve known each other for a long time and we work well together.” Reflecting once again on the company’s remarkable journey, Mary Lou leaves us with a parting shot: “What I love about this business is you never know what’s coming around the corner. You can be a part of it for as long as I have and witness the most sophisticated designs and spectacular technical innovations, and still be aware that better things will come. Working with a team of people that actually drive those changes is an extraordinary reward that money can’t buy.”

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Photography © Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Beyond Wonderland México, Loren Moulton/Big Sky Brewing

Keith Ray (yard manager). “I’d like to say there was an intelligent strategy behind each of the location choices but in both cases it was pure happenstance,” states Mary Lou. “Colorado was my fault because when it all began I lived here but it turned out to be well situated to service the west coast and the heart of the country, all the way to Chicago. For about five years, we had a temporary office set up in Nashville but I wasn’t too keen on it because it was land-locked, whereas we can get containers to and from Manheim very easily, and we’re just a hop, skip and a jump from New York.” This year has panned out to be typically busy and varied for the American company. Mary Lou glances at her wall chart and reels off a roll call of current and forthcoming projects. “Our 2018 diary will continue with regular one-off events such as Made In America in Philadelphia and Global Citizen in New York’s Central Park, and there are several others including Amazon’s Picnic Stadium Concert in Seattle, headlined by Demi Lovato. Up in Missoula, Montana, we also have a semi-permanent structure that we build and maintain for Big Sky Brewing’s summer concerts. “As well as EDC, we handle other events for Insomniac – in March we did Beyond Wonderland in Mexico and in late July / early August we have


Photography © Dan Garcia, Kevin Mazur/Getty/Parkwood Entertainment

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forging reputations on the run STAGECO’S TEAMS CONTRIBUTE TO TWO OF 2018’S BIGGEST TOURING PRODUCTIONS

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Photography © Hendrik Verdeyen

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Breaking One Direction’s attendance record at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on May 8th was a fine way for Taylor Swift to begin her latest stadium tour, reputation, her fifth and most ambitious by far, with Stageco – literally – taking centre stage. Designed by Baz Halpin of SilentHouse Productions, the set’s main feature is a 172’ x 40’ V-shaped video wall that curves and continues into the stage floor to create what the artist describes as “an optical illusion”. While Tait provides the decking for the main stage, catwalks and two B-stages that extend, left and right, into the audience, Stageco builds the steel foundations and other structures including the delay towers. “I know that Taylor, her family and manager Robert Allen are extremely happy with the results,” SUMMER 2018

said Mary Lou Figley, Vice President of Stageco US, who managed the project with assistance of colleagues Dirk De Decker and Tom Frederickx. Mary Lou: “There wasn’t a great deal of time to get with Tait and other vendors like [lighting and video supplier] Solotech on the same page and make this all happen at a rapid pace. At a production meeting late last November at Tait Towers in Lititz, everything was laid in front of the various suppliers, and it was then clear that we would be having a lot of critical technical engineering input.” “By March, we were at Rock Lititz for the four weeks of technical production rehearsals. We only built half of the system there because, believe it or not, the building’s roof height is too low for this design.” STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS


23 Right: Loading in at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, setting up at Wembley... and almost show ready at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

Standing at a vertigo-inducing 30 metres high, this is one of the tallest structures ever built by Stageco. Dirk De Decker said: “The V-shaped wall supports very heavy moving video screens and points downstage, giving the opportunity to deliver immense sight lines. There are also I-Mag screens to the sides and even in the ‘cheap seats’, Taylor is always in view. Although the stage space is 55m wide, because each side of the ‘V’ is 33m wide, it means she has a span of almost 66m of performance space to work within, and that’s before she ventures out on to the other two stages.” Following a similar concept employed by Stageco for U2’s Joshua Tree stadium tour last year, Eighth Day Sound’s PA is hung on six radiating cantilevers, three per side, that extend 13m from their towers, with the off-stage pair positioned 2m lower. “Due to the lengths of the PA arrays, the cantilevers are higher and further downstage than they were on U2,” explained Dirk.

STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Photography © Hendrik Verdeyen

REPTILIAN PRESENCE Six months in the planning, the tour arrived on the back of the album of the same name – a pop masterpiece that has shifted more than two million units worldwide. Having already featured in recent videos by ‘Tay Tay’, snakes have a large presence in the show, with a 30-foot cobra rising up behind the artist early in her performance, followed by more reptilian references and Medusa-like effects. Another effect that adds further excitement to the show is a flying gag that occurs twice during the show. Said Dirk: “Taylor is on zip wires that are connected to the front of house towers. It took quite some time to get them precisely engineered for this purpose.” Although the project was co-ordinated from Stageco’s American base, the R&D side of the project was mainly executed in Belgium by Mario Dockx and Tom Frederickx, who looked after the engineering, with support from Dirk De Decker and Stageco US’s Nick Rivas. The company is fielding four steel systems, each transported in19 trucks. For most of the world tour, two teams of 14 are on the road, with Jesse Winn leading an American crew and Hendrik Verdeyen in charge of a European squad. When part of the American system moved overseas to cover the six shows in June at Manchester’s

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24 Left: At 30 feet tall, this cobra cuts a striking presence behind the artist and her troupe; in front of the pointed V-shaped screen; ready to rock Wembley Stadium.

Photography © Dan Garcia, Kevin Mazur/Getty/Parkwood Entertainment, Hendrik Verdeyen

Etihad Stadium, Croke Park in Dublin and London’s Wembley Stadium, they were all built using one set of steel but the process was subject to compressed load-in times due to the busy summer entertainment programs at each venue. Dirk recalled an unusual activity peak: “It all went pretty smoothly in the end but there was a period when we had several Stageco crews in close proximity to each other. Many of the regular stadiums were overbooked with incoming tours, and we were working on most of them! As one team was completing a load-out, another was waiting to move in. On one particular night, we had four crews in Manchester working on Billy Joel, Taylor and OTR II. In addition, there were two teams out on The Rolling Stones’ shows in the UK – that’s how dense our work was at that point.” Over the course of seven months, reputation will take on 51 shows in 35 cities, worldwide. Dirk observed: “Our guys won’t make it back home until the first week of December because our next big logistical challenge will be the Australian concerts, followed by Tokyo. We’ll have three different shows in the space of seven or eight days, so that will be very interesting!”

“On one night, we had four crews in Manchester working on Billy Joel, Taylor and Beyoncé/Jay-Z – that’s how dense our work was.” SUMMER 2018

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25 OTR II at Hampden Park, Glasgow.

BEYONCE & JAY-Z: OTR II A month after Taylor Swift launched her reputation tour, Beyoncé and Jay-Z reaffirmed their dominance as modern R&B’s most celebrated couple with OTR II. The natural heir to 2014’s On The Run, this tour was a runaway success even before its opening show at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on June 6th, with Billboard predicting a $200 million gross for the 48-date itinerary. Set designer Ric Lipson of Stufish has described the intention behind the show as being “a blend of art installation, meets an opera, meets a pop concert, meets a dance piece, meets architecture.” His brief, he says, was to base the design around

the story of two lovers who “become separated and spend part of the show ringing round each other and then… are reunited.” The essential framework upon which the show is built has been an ongoing project driven by Stageco’s companies Belgian office, and managed by Dirk De Decker with R&D engineering input from Wim Dewolf, Jelte Smets, Dirk Van Der Goor and Gert Hulsmans. From Stageco’s perspective, one of the first ingredients of Mr. Lipson’s design to be confirmed was the integration of four, 11.5m long cantilevers that suspend the PA above the stage, in much the same way as they do on Swift’s production. Not Photography © Ingham Mitchell, Andreu Sans, Raven Varona

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Photography © Hendrik Verdeyen

The build at London Stadium.

all aspects of the design were finalised so quickly, however. Discussions concerning the middle section of the set – the performance stage – continued for months and the way forward was finally agreed just three weeks before production loaded into the U Arena in Paris for rehearsals. “It was that close!” said Dirk. “Sometimes, when you work with visionary artists, it can be a hard game to play. What appears to be a brilliant idea on paper may not prove acceptable when a design is finally realised, so changes have to be implemented very quickly and with the minimum of fuss in order to meet an unforgiving deadline. This was the case at the start of Beyoncé’s Formation tour, two years ago, and so we had the benefit of that experience when we faced a similar situation this time. “In their favour, they were working with Stageco, a company that has spent many years accommodating very challenging last minute requests of a structural nature. There are not many companies in the world that could find the suppliers, provide the solutions and turn everything around in a very short time.” SUMMER 2018

CELEBRITY SQUARES While the overall stage measures 60m wide and 27m tall at its highest point, the central performance stage (standing 16m wide and 12m high) is divided into four floors of five boxes, à la ‘Celebrity Squares’ and functions as both the main scenic element and the crucial structure that supports a scissor lift, three quick lifts and the tracking video system that is cantilevered into place. Also contained here are two stair houses, built by Stageco with scaffolding, that are used as holding areas for the artists. Scheduled to run until it reaches Seattle on October 4th, the tour has been carrying three Stageco steel systems, each requiring 17 trucks and a crew of 15, headed by Johan ‘Bellekes’ Van Espen, Stefaan Vandenbosch and Antonio Duarte Da Cruz, respectively. On average, the build takes three days at each venue and the Stageco crew complete the load out by 7pm on the day following a show. The trucks also contain materials for building the front of house riser and delay towers. As the tour reached London, the couple – billed as The Carters – released their joint album STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS


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Everything Is Love, songs from which are expected to make an appearance in later shows. Ric Lipson told Dazed magazine: “The show will change, for sure. There’ll be new content, and they will use the stage differently. We actually rehearsed some bits but we never put them in the

show. I don’t imagine they’ll change the main set, because once you’re on the road it’s really hard to make major changes. But you never know.” www.taylorswift.com www.beyonce.com www.lifeandtimes.com

FUTURE DIRECTION > stage wings and, as a result, allows audiences at the sides to gain much improved sight lines. Of course, this also means that promoters can put extra tickets on sale for seats that might otherwise have restricted viewing access.” Remote controlled followspots, as seen on the reputation dates, are also having an

impact. “These bigger tours are quickly beginning to see the disappearance of human operators on our delay towers. There is a safety aspect to this because the crew are now on the ground, but the main benefit to lighting designers is that they have more creative freedom and immediate control of colour and intensity.”

STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS

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Photography © IHendrik Verdeyen, Andreu Sans, Raven Varona

The Taylor Swift and Beyoncé/Jay-Z tours are among the latest to embrace new technologies that will inform future design approaches, according to Dirk De Decker. He commented: “The PA cantilever idea is something we will definitely be seeing more on big stadium productions. It’s a big step forward that helps to clean up the


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Photography © Michael Herbst, Tobias Stoffels, Music Eggert, Julian Spannhof

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LONDON THEME FOR AIRBEAT ONE

STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Photography Š obias Stoffels, Mike Auerbach

Roughly halfway between Hamburg and Berlin lies the Neustadt-Glewe airfield, the home of Airbeat One, an immersive dance music festival that over the last 15 years has earned an enviable reputation for set design and innovative visuals, and consistently welcomes party-goers from all around the world. Held over four days (July 11th-15th), the 2018 edition was Stageco Deutschland’s third year as a staging provider making significant contributions to Airbeat One. Most notably, the company built the

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Photography © Mike Auerbach, Julian Canto

main stage for the very first time – a project managed by Michael Herbst with R&D engineering conducted by Kai Eppinger. BOMBASTIC As well as constructing several other stages and structures across the site, including the Q-Dance stage and Terminal stage, VIP platforms, staircases and front of house towers, Stageco’s crew created the

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bedrock of the coveted main stage – a bombastic, 120m wide, 30m high edifice that followed the theme of ‘Great Britain’ and celebrated London’s famous architecture, such as the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben, and Tower Bridge, within its design. “Mr. Bean, Monty Python, James Bond – they are all connected to Great Britain,” quipped a representative from organisers Music Eggert. “And while 007 has the licence to kill, the people at Airbeat One have the licence to party!” Dance music sub-genres from EDM, trance, hardstyle, hardcore and gabber to techno, minimal and house, showcased by around 170 DJs and live acts, were all contained within the stages built by up to 76 Stageco crew. Directed by Markus Olma, the crew worked with in excess of 880 tonnes of equipment, transported to the site in 46 trucks. Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Armin van Buuren, Hardwell, Tiësto, Afrojack, Steve Aoki and Marshmello were just a few of the big names that drew around 50,000 people to Airbeat One each day. airbeat-one.de STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS


IF YOU CAN IMAGINE IT, WE CAN BUILD IT.

Concert stages in all sizes. Stageco Belgium N.V. Kapelleweg 6 • 3150 Tildonk Tel : +32 16 60 84 71 Fax: +32 16 60 10 61 info@stageco.com

Temporary structures for every event.

www.stageco.com

BELGIUM FRANCE NETHERLANDS GERMANY AUSTRIA USA STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS

SUMMER 2018


Photography © William Wood

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When the cream of live acts graduate to play stadiums, some may find themselves out of their depth. Not so with the Foo Fighters, whose presence and sheer firepower shook the 80,000-capacity London Stadium to its core on two consecutive nights, as they performed on a Stageco stage. Nine albums into their 24-year career, on their latest tour, Concrete & Gold, the Foos not only deliver a masterclass in how to handle a stadium audience, they have the material and humour, they have Dave Grohl, a living legend who frequently deals out profanities with the same ease as his guitar riffs, and then there is Taylor Hawkins, whose adrenalin-soaked drum solo – on an ascending riser, no less – is one of the three-hour show’s biggest highlights. SUMMER 2018

Essentially treated as a one-off for Stageco, the Foos played under a regular Super Roof, the company’s second largest after its voluminous XXL model, which was constructed within three days by a team headed by David Van Assche, who held the same position last summer on tours by Jeff Lynne’s ELO and Guns N’Roses. -“This roof came from another one-off in Hamburg,” said David. “On a tour, we could take half a day off of the build time, but one-off shows like this don’t carry the same momentum.” The equipment arrived at the former London Olympics venue in Stratford in 17 trucks. Twelve Stageco crew including some new staff, set to work on the build with assistance from 15 local crew climbers and 15 hands. STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS


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CONCRETE, GOLD & STEEL Foo Fighters at London Stadium

STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Photography © Mark Cunningham

The roof was lifted using the latest generation, computer controlled winch devices. David commented: “It was a heavy build for us, however, after Beyoncé & Jay-Z’s shows at this stadium, Antonio Duarte Da Cruz’s team had a two-day break and so they helped us out which meant that at one point we had 20 people working on this.” Although it may have appeared to be a standard festival roof to the casual onlooker, it was reinforced to be stronger than usual in order to offer a weight capacity of 40 tonnes of production, including PRG’s lights and upstage WinVision screen, which was configured within a

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Photography © Mark Cunningham

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David Van Assche, second from left, with crew colleagues Holger, Jente, Giel, Hans, Pim and Ricardo.

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and ‘Everlong’, David Van Assche was getting some beauty sleep ahead of a long load-out. He described the process: “Directly after the show, the skins are removed along with much of the scaffolding, upstage ramps and delay towers. Production is gone by around 2.30am and that gives us the green light to go full steam ahead on the remainder of the break down. At 5.00am, we bring in a crane with myself and two other crew, and we stay until the last truck is loaded at 8.00pm. I can then look forward to a well-earned beer!” At the Foos’ two London Stadium shows, they were supported by Wolf Alice, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, The Kills, Slaves and Starcrawler. The Super Roof remained on trailers for three weeks before being rebuilt at Twickenham Stadium for Eminem’s two shows on July 14th-15th (left), part of his Revival tour of Europe. In the meantime, David was preparing for his next Stageco project: a Bruno Mars show on June 30th at the Stade De France in Paris. foofighters.com

STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS

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Photography © Mark Cunningham & Jeremy Deputat

flown diamond-shaped frame. Measuring 25m wide between its towers and 61.12m between the edges of the large PA and video scaffolding wings, the stage had a depth of 15m and a trim height from the floor to the bottom of the truss of 16.55m. The total height, said David, was 25m. “It fits just 1.5m under the stadium roof,” he observed. “That is the maximum height we can achieve at London Stadium. We pushed the stage back as far in front of the audience stand as it would go.” Stageco’s client was Roy Morley of Site & Event Logistics who was working on behalf of the promoter, SJM Concerts. The company also co-ordinated the build with production manager Bret Chin-Quan, tour manager Gus Brandt and stage manager Andy Pollard. In addition to the stage, Stageco provided the two front of house risers and four delay towers that incorporated PRG’s remotely controlled spotlights. FULL STEAM AHEAD While the 80,000-strong crowd thrilled to the sound of ‘The Pretender’, ‘My Hero’, ‘Best Of You‘


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AND Photography courtesy of Qapital/Q-Dance

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IN THE ROUND AT QAPITAL

Originally founded in 1999 as Qlass Elite to organise events and festivals for fans of the harder styles of dance music, Q-Dance is the Dutch company behind Qapital, the highly successful, in-the-round arena dance show that has benefitted from Stageco Nederland’s involvement since its launch in 2013.

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Playing to an audience of 12,500 at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, this year’s edition on March 31st – featuring acts including Phuture Noize, B-Front, Deetox and Hard Driver – was an almost instant sell-out, with Q-Dance’s Jeroen Beverwijk hiring Stageco to construct and supervise a 6m diameter turntable as the foundation of the DJ stage.

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Stageco’s Dutch office delivers a “complete solution” for Amsterdam dance event Michiel Makkink, Stageco Nederland’s account manager for the project, explained: “Our turntable is fundamental to the production because the DJs perform in the middle of the Ziggo Dome. Our crew [led by Arjan Bettink] take care of its rotary control during the show and, as the partying carried on through to 7.00am, they rely on their ear plugs!” He continued: “Q-Dance want to give their fans the opportunity to dance which is why Stageco also builds two large, 50m+ wide dance platforms within the venue’s grandstands so that the visitors in those areas are not restricted by the seating.” Rigged above the DJ stage and extending to the ends of

the arena, Qapital 2018’s iconic bridge design required Stageco to construct an additional VIP platform on the long side of the grandstands this year, rather than on the short side. “We therefore needed to build a few metres higher in the grandstand, behind the dance platform,” said Michiel. Following the event, Jeroen Beverwijk of Q-Dance commented: “Our experience of working with Stageco is always positive. Their delivery of special products such as the turntable and various elevators, aided by their particularly quick and efficient load-in and build, provides us with a complete solution. “I was especially delighted with Stageco’s approach to the

new VIP deck which was well received by the audience.” Stageco Nederland is also proud to maintain a close association with another Q-Dance event, the Defqon.1 festival, whose 2018 European edition took place in Biddinghuizen over the weekend of June 22nd-24th.

STAGECO INTERNATIONAL NEWS

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IF YOU CAN IMAGINE IT, WE CAN BUILD IT.

Stageco Belgium N.V. Kapelleweg 6 3150 Tildonk Tel: +32 16 60 84 71 Fax: +32 16 60 10 61 info@stageco.com Stageco France sarl 158, Le Petit Palais 84800 L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Tel: +33 4 90 20 90 90 Fax: +33 4 90 20 90 31 info.france@stageco.com

Stageco Deutschland GmbH Schäfflerstrasse 13 86343 Königsbrunn Tel: +49 821 440 22 0 Fax: +49 821 440 22 22 info.deutschland@stageco.com

Stageco Austria Gemeindeberggasse 45 A-1130 Wien Tel: +43 1 48 11 513 Fax: +43 1 48 11 513 20 info.austria@stageco.com

Stageco Deutschland GmbH Stageco Nederland b.v. Herzbergstrasse 120  Aalsvoort 14 10365 Berlin  7241 MA Lochem Tel: +49 30 54 98 72 40 Tel: +31 573 25 63 02 Fax: +49 30 54 98 72 44 Fax: +31 573 25 60 62 info.berlin@stageco.com info.nederland@stageco.com

Stageco U.S. Inc 8755 Vollmer Road Colorado Springs CO 80908 Tel: +1 719 495 9497 Fax: +1 719 495 9098 info.us@stageco.com Stageco U.S. Inc Manheim 181 E. Stiegel St. Manheim, PA 17545 Tel: +1 866 782 4326  info.us@stageco.com

WWW.STAGECO.COM EDITED & DESIGNED BY MARK CUNNINGHAM / LIVECULTURE FOR AND ON BEHALF OF STAGECO STAGING GROUP

STAGECO NEWS Summer 2018  

The official Stageco Staging Group news journal.

STAGECO NEWS Summer 2018  

The official Stageco Staging Group news journal.

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