The lighting for Sticky Fingers’ recent tour was big, bold, obnoxious and threatened to cut power to the host city!
In a big step up from previous tours Sticky Fingers, the Sydney band that are a ‘melting pot of psych, rock, and reggae’, completed an arena run around the country.
‘Big, bold, and rock’n’roll’ was the brief they gave their production designer, Mike MacDonald of Twenty20 Creative, who then set about designing an in-your-face rig and obnoxious production well suited to the band!
The fixture count was quite high but the choice of fixture was deliberately limited by Mike, who prefers to make broad strokes with his fixture types.The modest list of lighting fixtures included 57 Martin Mac Viper Performance, 34 Vari Lite 3500W FX, 55 PRG BestBoy (pods and backlight), 35 Martin Atomic 3000, 52 4-Lite Strips and 144 Par64 (24 bars of six).
“It was in my best interest to keep fixture types to a minimum, as I was very conscious of the limited programming time I would have,” explained Mike.
“I’m not keen to have ten different fixture types as it makes our workflow more difficult, especially when you’ve got to take that show from an arena to a festival or a smaller venue. I knew we would have to clone this show later on so I was forward-thinking!”
There were no rehearsals whatsoever, with Mike seeing his show just before the first. Mike programmed the show in Wysiwyg R43 which allowed him to visualise the show creatively beforehand. “But of course it doesn’t translate 100%,” added Mike.
“You still need time with the rig to translate intensities with the rig trim height.”
The band were keen to have two large V-shaped trusses extending into the room, to which Mike added an additional truss to create more depth, creating an inverted pyramid. These were loaded with Martin MAC Viper Performances, Vari-Lite VL3500 Wash FX, Atomics and an array of 4-Lite Strips to shape the rigging of the show.
“The VL3500 Wash FX are my front key light and we have two fixtures per band member,” said Mike.
“We also have two short side trusses per side and each of them holds three VL3500 Wash FX which allows the band to walk around onstage, I can pick them up with sidelight. There are also three each side on the floor, and as old as the VL3500 Wash FX is, they still serve a very good purpose and are very punchy.”
Martin MAC Viper Performances are predominantly the workhouse spot of the rig with Mike explaining that it was a conscious decision to choose a fixture in large quantities that can create large brush strokes. This fixture type was going to outline and shape the stage design. He only used a couple of the Viper’s gobos, preferring to utilise them as an open spot fixture.
An obnoxious quantity of 52 4-Lite Strips blasted the arena with 42 positioned in the air and ten of them positioned on the riser fascia. They are one of Mike’s favourite fixtures, through which he runs some MA effects achieving some strong looks.
It’s a classic fixture; he only needs to glow the 4-Lite Strips at 10% for a strong and bold look. For call and response moments, Mike says they’re an ideal fixture that become an extension of the band themselves. As they’re a big, thrashy rock band, the guys wanted to ‘feel the light’ onstage so Mike designed five moving pods, each loaded with nine PRG BestBoys, that blast through from upstage.
Using Kinesys, the pods have seven positions and are used to shape the rear of the stage. “They’re very versatile and offer us a lot of looks,” said Mike.
“I try to ensure the pods move in a theatrical manner and never during a song. It’s a lot of back light and I’ve had to be extremely careful not to blow out the cameras as we’re doing a lot of IMAG.
“I try to use beam reduction like a gobo and I also zoom the fixtures in to get some big, strong beam looks. We’ll also use them as a wash fixture as it’s supposed to be blocky and bold.”
Mike’s first choice for the pods was 150 Chauvet Nexus panels, but as no-one in Australia could provide this amount, he had to go with a fixture he could get in quantity from supplier PRG. “They did have 50 BestBoys, which have been great and I’m really enjoying using them.”
With the Kinesys taking up a large footprint in the rig it was tricky for Mike to add a rear truss for back light but he managed to squeeze in a rear truss of eight MAC Viper Performances for shaping the stage and five BestBoys doing back light for the band.
Mike decided early on in the design process not to use followspots, saying he wanted to be able to control all the elements of the show. Relying on a traditional followspot operator would have meant he wouldn’t be able to achieve the snap blackouts he required. As the band are fairly static in their positions onstage, it worked well.
“I wanted to keep to the linear look that was hidden from the audience’s perspective during the show,” remarked Mike.
“So we also added 144 Par64 cans (24 bars of six) that matched the height of the videowall. This was the Rock n’ Roll element of the show – BIG, BOLD and OBNOXIOUS. We wanted the band and punters to feel the heat at the back of the arena …. and they did!
“We only used Par cans for two songs. It’s a trick up our sleeve to create a point-of-difference moment during the set. It’s really nice to get matrix Par can wall looks, but when combined with the 35 Atomic strobes they threatened to black out the city!
“This rig is very heavy on power consumption. We are two by 400A and one 250A, and during the peak of the show with strobes, par cans and molefays, we are sitting at 395A per phase. Sitting on a total of 900, we had to be very conscious of our programming not to hit everything at once!”
At the rear of the stage was a 14m by 4.8m, 18mm pitch LED wall through which Mike textured content from the PRG MBox whilst never taking attention away from the light show.
“I own MBox Studio, which is very versatile, and the band spend money on content creation. I was quite happy about that as it meant I could drive the creative direction, allowing lighting to drive colour palettes, rather than the video,” commented Mike.
For control Mike ran an MA Lighting grandMA2 full size, with another for backup, saying it was good to have lots of playback to run a show like this one. “It is a Rock’n’Roll show, so it’s important to adapt to the show as the show evolves,” he commented.
“It’s a nicely programmed cuelist show, but there’s no timecode, as the band changes the song orders, extend songs, and pause songs. They play 27 songs during their set which change every night, then they’ll add five new songs they’ve never played before!
“It makes for a difficult show for production, but enjoyable for the punter as they’re witnessing something new.”
Atmosphere was provided by two MDG ATMe Hazers and two Look Solutions Unique Viper 2.0, with four Confetti Blowers letting rip at the end of the show.
CX Magazine – Dec 2019 Entertainment technology news and issues for Australia and New Zealand – in print and free online www.cxnetwork.com.au
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