by Cat Strom.
Photo Credits: Stefan José / Ashley Mar
Angus Stone is so into his own lighting he purchased his own Robe fixtures for his latest tour!
Dope Lemon returned to the stage for their first headline tour in three years and audiences were invited to step into the real world of Angus Stone – a dream zone layered with melty moments, mischief and romance.
Matt Hansen of MPH Australia designed both the set and the lighting for the Big Smooth Australian Tour, and also toured as operator. Angus wanted a Seventies, plush TV set inspired stage and so Matt delivered classic gold velveteen drapes, light-up flooring, and retro looking signage.
Angus was proactive in securing the Seventies rock concert inspired sign and approached Rosemount to construct the timber and LED bulb structure.
The rest of the set – stands, lights, LED flooring and risers – was all built by Aaron Humber at Standby Go!
Each band member had his own podium, five in total, the floors of which are constructed of acrylic tiles that are edge-lit with DMX controlled RGBW LED tape. Each tile is pixel mapped into Matt’s Hog4 console for control with the floor generating 15 universes of DMX. Standby Go! also supplied the custom power supplies, proprietary power supplies, looms, cabling and racks that all make the floor happen.
Each podium has a curved edge and is ringed in a gold velveteen skirt hiding all of the hardware.
The four floor package racks each hold twelve Robe onePATT retro style fixtures. These 48 fixtures were actually purchased by the artist himself who was adamant in the purchase – although no one seems to know what he’ll do with them after the tour!
“They look retro and cool, are RGBW with a nice soft light and ideal eye candy for this show,” said Matt. “The more I’ve used them, the more I like them.”
In fact Angus is so into his production, he also purchased all of the set elements showing a commitment rarely seen by artists. Perhaps his farm up at Byron Bay will get some interesting flooring!
Matt’s lighting rig also had Robe Spiiders and MegaPointes, GLP impression X4 Bar 20s, Elation CUEPIX Blinder WW4, and LED PixPars. The lighting rig is fairly simple as a lot of the work is done by the set.
“Angus wanted a dark and moody stage so I subtly coloured it mainly with side and back light,” added Matt. “Other than a handful of Spiiders on the front truss which are not used much, the lighting is mostly situated on the upstage two trusses as well as on the floor.
“On the floor, there are a couple of Spiiders downstage left and right, then basically a Spiider for each band member between the two upstage trusses. There are also twelve Spiiders in the air, six on each truss, again used sparingly.”
Also on the floor are six Robe MegaPointes, three upstage left and three upstage right, with six more in the air. “They’re a relatively compact light for their output and feature set,” commented Matt. “Their zoom range is awesome and they’ve got a bunch of great aerial effects, and gobo morphing effects with prisms, which is cool and unique.”
Eight GLP impression X4 Bar 20s act as cyc wash for the upstage drape, occasionally spinning around to back light the band. As the Dope Lemon sign is 150mm deep, they also create interesting shadows to the bottom of the sign.
For control Matt had his Hog4 saying it’s the only console he knows how to use! For the first time ever, he relied heavily on the Hog4 to do a lot of pixel mapping.
“As I said, there were 15 universes of pixel mapped LED floor in the set, which is a DMX DP8000 processor worth of stuff, and usually I would use a media server external of the Hog4,” he explained. “The Hog handled it really well although setting it up did my head in and I relied on other people to help me.”
At FOH, behind an Avid S6L console, was Adam Rhodes who has worked with Angus for the past 11 years. He describes mixing for Dope Lemon as quite a challenge with all of the vocals going through a TC Helicon Voice live distorted compression effect with slap delay at all times.“It makes the gain before feedback issue much harder than usual,” added Adam.
“It’s a balancing act between keeping the energy level of the band up whilst trying to ensure the vocals are intelligible and on top of the mix – particularly when it’s a distorted vocal and both Angus and Louis are playing distorted guitars, Brad has his big muff pedal on the bass and its one big wall of distortion. The traditional sound guy in me struggles with that!”
Adam doesn’t use any Waves with the Avid S6L, preferring to use solely what comes in the console package. He uses the Bomb Factory 1176, Classic Bundle, and Digirack compressors and the standard Revibe and Reverb One reverbs that come with the console.
“I’m enjoying the Pro Multiband compressor too,” he added. “The main reason I don’t use anything external or use any third party products is that when you’re touring around, there’s very little support for it.
“If I’m going into a festival situation and they don’t have that equipment, I don’t want to be having to load and install things to make my show work in the 20 minutes I have to get everything running.”
When it comes to reverbs, delays and effects, Adam says that he has always sculpted and created his own sounds rather than use presets from the pull-down lists. “I’ll always create my own patches and all this is easily done on the console’s proprietary system,” he said.
“I don’t use any feedback on the plugins, I do it all on the console. I do it old-school where I feed the delay back on itself and if I want it to be a little crunchy, I’ll put a Sansamp in front of it or whatever I need to do to make the sounds I want to create.”
Adam admits he sees other engineers use plugins and achieve the same results but he suspects a lot of people just flick through presets until they find one they like. Adam will have a sound in mind and then work out how to make it.
“I’m never really happy with presets anyway so if I’m going to change them, I might as well do it from scratch,” he continued. “Plus Angus is quite particular about those sounds.”
JPJ Audio supplied the touring control package, and in-house PA systems were utilised, with Adam commenting that he loves the Nexo Alpha at The Tivoli as well as the d&b J Series at The Palais. “The Nexo GEO-D at The Enmore is a challenge to deal with, particularly with my gain issues,” Adam elaborated.
“It was one of the early attempts at cardioid PAs and without a proscenium arch I get a lot of mid-range honk out of the side of the boxes, heading straight towards Angus’ microphone and I struggle to get Angus’ vocals up against that.”
Everyone was on Shure PSM1000 IEMs, and there were wedges on the back of the keyboard riser to provide stage vibe for Angus, who doesn’t like the fact that the keyboards are DI’ed and there’s no sound coming out of them on stage. When he pulls an IEM out, he wants to be able to hear it acoustically on stage.
Whilst all the guitars and bass have output through their amplifiers, the keyboard is silent which leaves Angus feeling disconnected. The drummer doesn’t use a drum sub so Angus has a d&b V Sub right behind him to get that drum sub feel onstage.
Most microphones are fairly standard Shure models; 57s on guitar amps and snares, Beta 98s on toms and congas, KSM32s as overheads, however it’s the KSM8 that excites Adam. All vocals use a KSM8 microphone with Angus recently acquiring two new nickel versions for this tour.
Adam says that the KSM8 has changed his life with both Angus as a solo artist and Angus & Julia Stone.“I could wax lyrical about that microphone for hours if you want!” he laughed.
“The amount of gain before feedback I can get out of it is incredible plus the lack of proximately effect is fabulous. It’s the microphone I’ve always wanted.”
Eric Coelho mixed monitors on an Avid Profile monitor console.