Flume Plays Red Rocks with Claypaky Fixtures, grandMA2 Consoles and MDG Atmospheric Generators in Support
Los Angeles (September 14, 2017) – When electronic music producer Flume returned to Red Rocks in July, a large complement of Claypaky Sharpys and Sharpy Washes, grandMA2 light consoles and MDG theONE atmospheric generators helped the Grammy winner light up the iconic Colorado amphitheater. Brown Note Productions provided the equipment, which is distributed exclusively in North America by A.C.T Lighting, Inc.
Flume, the professional name of Harley Edward Streten, enjoyed a successful Red Rocks debut in 2016. This year he added the date to an already impressive American tour during which he headlined at Bonnaroo, CRSSD and Electric Forest. Flume, who won a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Album for his second LP, “Skin,” is regarded as the pioneer of future bass.
For Red Rocks, and for Flume’s ongoing tour, Lighting Designer Stu Dingley was charged with creating a design that reflected the musician’s new and unique musical sub-genre and helped deliver “an experience [for the audience] that left a lasting identity to associate with Flume and his brand,” he explains. “It had to be thoughtful and precise without falling into anything too cliché EDM.”
Production Designer Rob Sinclair crafted the scenic elements of neon-lit glass cubes and booth working alongside Creative Director Jonathan Zawada. Chris Rupple was the Lighting Crew Chief. Joel Eriksson was the Production Manager.
Dingley used 46 Sharpys for Red Rocks, a light he calls “still one of the best beam fixtures out there. It’s exceptionally fast, it has a beam with an even continuity and it retains its position information well. The simple lens arrangement in the optical chain keeps it looking crisp, and the prism cleanly chops up a gobo without distorting the image. It also has the advantage of being in almost every festival rig around the world, so any subtle programming retains perfectly.”
Dingley positioned 16 Sharpys on the floor forming two horizontal lines at offset heights backing the artist. Thirty more were mounted overhead and kept in reserve for heavier electronic moments in the show.
He also used 36 Sharpy washes, a fixture that Dingley says “proves that discharge washes haven’t quite been replaced by LEDs yet. The Sharpy wash has beautiful color mixing and is a real breath of fresh air compared to the current saturated use of LED fixtures. It feels somewhat old school and familiar but with a modern twist.”
At Red Rocks he deployed four of them as side key lights and 32 overhead. While the floor package at Red Rocks was the same as that on Flume’s tour, the overhead fixtures are only used for headline shows.
At Red Rocks, “a large part of the design used spots and colored strobes. We wanted to avoid drawing too many parallels to the EDM world so we kept the overhead beams in our back pocket for the sporadic EDM-esque drops to pair with the vast shift in music and really attack the audience. Some of the musical drops were almost tongue in cheek to the other EDM acts out there, so we wanted to prove we could flex when asked to!”
Dingley says the Sharpys are “very consistent and bright.” During Flume’s American tour the fixtures travel on pre-rigged truss “with very few issues – it’s really important for the show to preserve as much time as possible for the scenic build, so being able to retain the fixtures’ position after being powered off from the previous night’s focus is invaluable. A lot of beam fixtures aren’t so good at that.”
The lighting designer has used grandMA2 as his console of choice since its release. “The console has consistently proven itself stable and reliable with excellent support all over the world,” Dingley says. “The MA hardware is rock-solid internally, very well made and extremely ergonomic to use. In the states we’re always covered by A.C.T Lighting for support. A.C.T has also been brilliant in writing custom fixture profiles and sending them over rapidly.”
Dingley had two grandMA2 lights and two NPUs at Red Rocks. “As far as workflow, the MA2 platform is very logical to me. Flume’s show is heavily reliant on timecode and audio triggers. It is easy to come up with an aesthetic idea when talking with the artist, while simultaneously visualizing how it will work on a practical level. For example, we have a continuing theme of a ‘Weapon’ soundscape intertwined throughout the set. It is far too abstract to run timecode over it, and most of the sounds are created live. We can link an audio frequency band from the waveform and trigger a corresponding effect. Being able to confidently deliver a concept is invaluable when brainstorming ideas.”
Dingley explains that, “for the rest of the show, timecode is chopped into hundreds of loops and assigned all over the Ableton session. Being able to work on a horizontal timeline opens a lot of possibilities when trying to hit all the sounds and layer up moments throughout the show. If [Flume] decides to jump ahead, skip a verse, jump into a new track for example, the console picks it up far quicker than an operator would!”
He adds that while the video content from the media server is locked to timecode for the most part, “when we add new tracks at the last minute before fresh timecode is stripped into the set, we can trigger this from this console. It gives the artist flexibility to play with the set and gauge the crowd’s response before we settle on it and lock it in.”
A pair of MDG theOne atmospheric generators is also featured in Flume’s show. “They really are the best units out there,” says Dingley. “In arenas, they create a beautifully clean and cloud-free haze. The small particle size makes the haze almost disappear to the eye, which really helps keep the video walls sharp. Then, in complete contrast, when we get to outdoor festival stages, we toggle in the fog mode and really wipe out the field.”