San Francisco Filmore maintains Meyer tradition
Thursday, 7 September 2023
fillmore4Matt Lawsky, The Fillmore; Michael Bailey, Live Nation; Amie Bailey-Knobler, The Fillmore; Helen Meyer, Meyer Sound; John Meyer, Meyer Sound; Derek Featherstone, UltraSound
USA - A San Francisco landmark, and arguably the most celebrated venue in rock history, The Fillmore promises to carry its status into the future thanks to a complete audio upgrade anchored by a new Meyer Sound reinforcement system. Built around the flagship Panther large-format linear line array loudspeaker, the new system was supplied and installed by UltraSound, another company with deep roots in the rich history of San Francisco’s post-1960s music scene.
Operated by Live Nation since 2007, The Fillmore treasures its legendary past while remaining focused on presenting today’s established and emerging artists in an optimum environment supported by world-class technical facilities.
“Our prior Meyer Sound system maintained our reputation for more than 15 years,” notes Matt Lawsky, on The Fillmore staff since 1999 and principal production manager since 2011. “But it was clearly time to move forward. We had first looked at a Leopard solution, but the timing worked out perfectly because, just when Live Nation gave us the green light, Panther had come out. UltraSound recommended it, and the cost was a wash because with Panther we need only seven boxes per side whereas Leopard would require 10 or more. So, we went with the very latest Meyer Sound technology.”
When The Fillmore reopened in 1994, after a five-year closure due to earthquake damage, UltraSound installed a Meyer Sound MSL-3 system in the room. UltraSound returned in subsequent years to install Mica line arrays with M3D Subs, culminating in this year’s Panther system.
“It has been an honour to have provided all The Fillmore audio systems for nearly three decades,” says UltraSound CEO Derek Featherstone. “And all have been from Meyer Sound.”
For Lawsky, maintaining the strong ties with Meyer Sound was a no-brainer. “Very few venues have the luxury of being in the neighbourhood of a world-class audio manufacturer,” he notes. “In fact, I could stop by the Meyer Sound factory on my way home. It would be madness not to take advantage of that.”
With a capacity just shy of 1,200, The Fillmore is categorised as a club by default as shows are general admission for an open floor with limited seating. As such, The Fillmore now becomes the first club in the world to offer a Panther system.
In addition to the seven-each Panther arrays, the new system also includes two Ultra‑X40 compact loudspeakers as front corner infills plus a third ULTRA-X40 for overhead centre-fill. Interim bass power is supplied by six 1100‑LFC low-frequency control elements, pending replacement by the newly introduced 2100‑LFC elements later this year. Artist foldback is courtesy of 10 MJF‑210 high-power stage monitors.
Contributing to the system renewal alongside Featherstone was UltraSound operations manager Josh Osmond, with Jason Mills serving as the on-site manager.
Michael Bailey, Live Nation senior vice president, has been a fixture at The Fillmore since 1987, working first for the owners at the time, soon afterward for Bill Graham Productions, and eventually for Live Nation. “When the 2100s are in, we will have the ultimate club showcase for Meyer Sound PA technology,” says Bailey. “Bands, and engineers from other clubs, can come here, listen to the system, and be inspired to upgrade the sound at similar venues around the country - or the world.”
For Meyer Sound founders John and Helen Meyer, the latest upgrade to the venue continues a long tradition of supporting the arts in the Bay Area. “We came to shows here in the sixties, so this is special,” Helen Meyer recalled at the system’s inauguration ceremonies. “We want to thank everybody from The Fillmore, Live Nation, and UltraSound for making this happen. We are Bay Area natives, and this is the kind of thing we love to do. It’s in our DNA. We hope everybody will enjoy the result.”

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