Stone Deaf

Can the rodeo rescue Reliant Stadium acoustics?

At the Stones concert, Shafer says, some people were 100 feet away from the central bank of speakers, and others were 500 feet away. But at rodeo concerts, everyone will be generally equidistant to the speakers, no matter how cheap their tickets.

The Astrodome had a lot of blank walls, although the spare wall space at Reliant is lined with seats to suck up sound, Shafer says.

Plush theater seats do suck up sound, but Reliant has plastic seats, which don't, Gottschalk counters. People sitting in those seats will be good sound absorbers -- if they stay seated. "But people rarely stay against the wall during a concert," Gottschalk says.

The Stones: "I can almost hear you cry."
Mark Brewer
The Stones: "I can almost hear you cry."

Rodeo officials also plan to hang more than $1 million worth of insulation-filled noise barriers from the ceiling to clarify the sound. They will span the width of the stadium and hang 30 feet down.

"It's not gonna make a whole lot of sense. You can defeat those cranking your amp up to 11," Gottschalk says. "And it won't deal with the echo effect. Anytime they take a big space like that and try to jerry-rig it to make it acoustically better, I'm always a little bit skeptical."

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