The following is a friendly letter from Soundcore going into detail about the state of amplified sound for this Firefly.
If you just want a concise list of this year’s rules in black and white along with when amplified sound is permitted, please skip down to “TL;DR – By the Numbers”.
Sound mitigation is important again this year due to where the 4th lands with workdays for the surrounding neighbors, and we’ll therefore operate by the same schedule. We likely have new neighbors this year that have not experienced how loud Firefly is for the surrounding area.
What is reasonable volume? Do you need to run your PA at stupid loud% (12) with a few people on your dance floor / at camp? Do people really need to shout to each other standing a few feet away from your speakers? Is doing any of these things really necessary or adding in any positive way to your camp/event?
Soundcore recommends and enforces a ‘Don’t be stupid’ policy. One person being stupid can jeopardize the entire event. So don’t be stupid or “that person.” We have a few additional sound camps this year and need everyone’s help with this. Folks from Soundcore will be making rounds throughout the event. Please, no poofer fire art or amplified sound in the fields in the evenings of the event. The back forty is quiet camping only – no amplified sound!
We Need to Do Better
Last year was a bit rough, we did much better in 2017. Camps weren’t really monitoring each other, the Soundcore briefing was lightly attended, we received multiple complaints mainly surrounding the same few camps. We were belligerently asked “what happens if I don’t turn it down?”, were ignored, and multiple visits to the same camps were made on multiple nights; mostly to Lions and Midnight Poutine – both of whom have apologized and submitted very concise plans to keep this from occurring again this year. This shows the importance of having a sound plan and people responsible for the sound in each camp, one person can cause major issues not just to a single camp, but the event as a whole.
Due to this we have to take a somewhat different approach this year. To do this we need everyone’s help and participation. One thing that may need some clarification is that Soundcore only monitors sound levels and makes recommendations to keep amplified sound possible at Firefly, we do not enforce policies past making verbal requests. This year each sound camp will receive a Soundcore tag, much like fire safety core with fire art. This tag will be handed out at the Soundcore meeting for the camp to attach to their PA to show you actually attended the meeting and were briefed about the issues with introducing additional noise to Bethel. SPL meters will also be handed out to the larger sound camps at the meeting. During the event, if sound policies are disregarded, a member of the board or their designate may remove the tag and this sound system can no longer be operated. If a camp continues to operate the PA or disregard policies, the issue will be directly raised to the board who will decide the appropriate action to be taken (this puts your placement at risk for next year, and we’ve even been told this could result in your camp’s ejection from this year’s Firefly). Soundcore members are volunteers trying to help the event happen, not babysit camps.
What constitutes a sound camp? Any camp or installation that plans on having music as one of the main focuses of their camp or art, you have speakers capable of 50W or more, or weighing 15lbs or more. If any of these criteria describe you, you are a sound camp, and are required to join Soundcore and receive a Soundcore tag. If you have a simple bluetooth speaker or a small art installation, you’re fine, just please point the sound westward.
Dr. Claw from Bring-a-Cup will be co-leading Soundcore with (Nick Binary) this year and helping with some of the more difficult camps from last year.
Firefly is held in very close proximity to neighbors that don’t enjoy the techno as much as the bears do. This also includes any fire art that generates shockwaves (poofers). Because of this we ask that no fire art or amplified sound in the fields in the evenings of the event. We are not the only regional burn to face these issues and try to mitigate them, PDF has a great sound policy write-up: http://playadelfuego.org/sound-policy
As firefly grows it’s easy to get caught up in our small temporary world for the week, and lose perspective that there are folks who live here for the other 51 weeks in the year. Most of these folks view our event simply as noise pollution. It has always been a delicate balance to try to minimize the sound levels emanating from Firefly given the constraints of our location along with being fair to everyone.
That said this year we are asking for no PA amplified sound on Tuesday – Low level setup music is totally fine until dark on a bluetooth speaker or small DJ monitor. Wednesday music can go till 11pm – at moderate volume please. After this time, turn off your PA and please no drum circles/etc. Small bluetooth speakers are completely fine during any of these times – unless you’re in quiet camping. (Soundboks units do not count as small bluetooth speakers) Again please remember the /do /not /be /stupid policy.
In order to be fair to everyone, if an external sound complaint is received – All camps will need to turn down or even cease amplified music. Depending on the severity of the complaint and/or how pissed the state police are, it could be for the evening or the rest of the event. Ideally we do not fuck up in the first place.
Please only run your sound systems as needed – if your dance floor is mostly empty, do you really need to be running your sound near it’s maximum output? This is just wasting fuel, likely upsetting your Firefly neighbors and putting the event at risk for everyone else. Bonus! If your sound system has a limiter, please use it! Ideally we do not want anyone going over 85-94 SPL-A (temperature dependent). Inform your DJs on this! Even better, post a sign by the DJ mixer or keep a dodgeball / large stick handy!
As we needed to last year, we again need to operate at lower volume in the whee hours, from 1am onward from Friday – Sunday please lower the sound level a bit and dip down the subwoofer level. This is also true if we have some very cold nights. Sound carries further, so please keep this in mind and adjust your volume accordingly. There will be a temperature and humidity monitor in the tech tent at Diode, find Nick Binary or Dr. Claw and they will show you where it is. Please do not operate any fire art that generates shockwaves during this early morning time as well.
Firefly will have quiet camping zones which will be reflected on the map. Northwest of the stone wall (back forty area), and east of the stream are considered quiet camping areas this year (We ask that no amplified sound or generator use take place each night in these areas). If you are looking for quiet camping, please camp here and not west of Verdant ave which will be quite loud. That is where the cluster of sound camps are normally placed.
If you feel the need to walk around pointing a speaker at folks trying to sleep at 7 in the morning for your ‘art’ – Don’t. It just pisses people off. Especially if in a quiet camping area. You’ll likely get your toy taken away. (This has happened more then once).
If you are a Firefly attendee and you feel a soundcamp is being exceedingly or needlessly loud, please bring this to the attention of a member of Soundcore (Nick Binary / Dr Claw, other Soundcore volunteers), a Firefly Ranger, or a Board member.
This needs to be an effort everyone precipitates in – one Soundcamp / peoples misbehaving affects everyone.
If noise complaints occur this year we may have to even further regulate sound levels next year so we can return for 2020. This could mean no subwoofers in the evening or even no sound late at night. This happened to PDF at their old location.
We ask sound camps with moderate or large sound systems to help monitor sound levels of their neighboring camps. Soundcore will provide SPL meters for use during the event that will be handed out at the Soundcore meeting. The idea here is to bring more people into actively monitoring our sound levels, as to not just fall on the few Soundcore volunteers. Each camp will appoint one or more people who will be part of Soundcore for the weekend. These people will be monitoring other camps in addition to their own. This entails checking in on the assigned camp every few hours. If you are adamantly opposed to this; please email soundcore -at – fireflyartscollective.org and maybe we’ll figure something out.
Soundcore will have a meeting at Diode at 4pm Wednesday to discuss what this entails and to hand out loaner SPL meters.
Additionally, for all Sound Camps, please bring a compass and refer to the specified headings below for your camp and point all sound sources in this direction. If you do not have a compass, find a Soundcore member during setup and we can help you out with locating the correct direction to point your audible probable cause makers. Note these have changed from last year to try to further avoid a residential area. Compass headings have been written on your placement foam plates that are hung in most theme campsites. Some camps have much larger sound setups than others, but it all adds up. Please be respectful and fair to all but following the specified headings.
TL;DR – By the Numbers:
Rule Zero: Do not do anything that will force us to make more rules.
- What? – Regulated Sound Sources:
Speakers and PAs of all sizes and varieties, from handheld to truckload.
All PA systems, while in use, are required to display a Soundcore tag from 4pm Weds through the end of the event.
Drums of all sizes and varieties – Can be played whenever Subs are allowed to be On.
Poofers and similar fire effects which create an audible shockwave – Can be used whenever Subs are allowed to be On.
- Where? – Allowed / Disallowed Sound Locations and Headings:
Disallowed for All Regulated Sound Sources:
Quiet Camping (Back 40)
The Fields (without explicit permission from a Soundcore Lead)
Area above and to the right of Camp Sexy
Allowed Sound Camps (and Compass Headings* for their PAs):
Art Support Camp (FF stage) – 250 deg
Bring A Cup – 280 deg
Cabana Hammock – 300 deg
Camp Blue Screen of Death – 50 deg
Camp Here – 270 deg
Camp Lamp – 240 deg
Camp Sexy – 315 deg
Diode – 4 point PA – monitor at 280 deg
Disco Fuck Yourself – 300 deg
Electric Cool Aid – 260 deg
Femme Domme Camp – 320 deg
Gluten Free Halloween – 250 deg
GraVT – 240 deg
Meat Space 9 (Meat Camp) – 260 deg
Midnight Poutine – 325 deg
Strange Maine – 300 deg
The Love and Lions Den – 300 deg
The Universe – 250 deg
*Each PA should radiate the bulk of its output toward the specified compass
heading. Please bring a compass. A short tutorial on finding headings can
be found here: http://www.compassdude.com/compass-reading.shtml – Remember,
the Firefly map is not situated with north on the top of the map – it’s west.
If you have a sound camp that is not listed here, please send mail to sound – at – fireflyartscollective.org ASAP so we can get you sorted out!
- When? – 2019 Firefly Sound Schedule:
Mon 10am-8pm: Handheld Bluetooth Speakers Only*
Mon 8pm-10am Tues: No Amplified Sound Please!
Tues 10am-10am Weds: Handheld Bluetooth Speakers Only*
Weds 10am-4pm Moderate PA Levels (< 80dB SPL, A-weighted), Subs On
Weds 4pm: Meeting at Diode – Mandatory attendance for All Sound Camps
Weds 4pm-11pm Moderate PA Levels (< 80dB SPL, A-weighted), Subs Ok
Weds 11pm-10am Thurs: Handheld Bluetooth Speakers Only*
Thurs 10am-11pm Reasonable PA Levels (< 85dB SPL, A-weighted)**, Subs On
Thurs 11pm-10am Fri: Lower PA Levels (< 74dB SPL, A-weighted), Subs Off
Fri 10am-1am Sat: Reasonable PA Levels (< 85dB SPL, A-weighted)**, Subs On
Sat 1am-10am Sun: Lower PA/Subwoofer Levels (< 80dB SPL, A-weighted)
Sat 10am-1am Sun: Reasonable PA Levels (< 85dB SPL, A-weighted)**, Subs On
Sat 1am-10am Sun: Lower PA/Subwoofer Levels (< 80dB SPL, A-weighted)
Sun 10am-6pm: Handheld Bluetooth Speakers Only*
*”Handheld Bluetooth Speaker” means any small, self-contained speaker which
does not have a carry handle and the average firefly can lift over their head
with a single hand.
**WRT “Reasonable PA Levels” – On warm nights we may be able to go louder
(possibly as high as 94dB). Please check in at Diode that night to verify.
We’ll have temperature and humidity readouts available for this purpose.
- Sound Camps – Additional Responsibilities:
In addition to the above, Sound Camps with moderate to large sound systems
need to help monitor their neighbors. The following camps have been identified
as needing to assign one or more representatives to join Soundcore and help
|Theme Camp||Monitoring Levels for|
|Midnight Poutine||Camp Here|
|The Love and Lions Den||Strange Maine|
|Strange Maine||The Love and Lions Den|
|Meat Space 9||Camp Sexy|
|The Universe||Meat Space 9|
|Camp Here||The Universe|
As always any thoughts/suggestions on how to improve on this are much appreciated! And really please, don’t be stupid with sound levels.
Nick Binary – 2019 Soundcore Co-lead – Head Bottle Washer – SB Productions
Dr. Claw – 2019 Soundcore Co-lead