Turning the clock back two decades, favorite boy bands New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys have joined forces in a major American sell-out arena tour this summer under the soubriquet NKOTBSB.
In order to allow the bands to engage at close quarters with their hordes of screaming fans, Production Designer Butch Allen designed a 91ft catwalk leading from the main stage to a â€˜B' stage — using no fewer than 79 GLP Volkslicht Zoom LED spots to edge the perimeter of the vast 155ft-wide main and subsidiary stages — including 17 footlights down each side of the thrust. The complex staging and movement was fabricated by Tait Towers.
“Since the whole set design was based around the 91ft thrust, my idea was to use the Volkslichts as footlights, to carve the space out around the audience,” said Allen, explaining the concept.
The tour has seen him reunited with Jesse Blevins (Associate Designer) and Ray Woodbury (Creative Director) — in the same team that had worked on No Doubt's 2009 tour — with Blevins the lighting board operator and programmer this time around.
Once the immense stage had become the predominant element of his set design, the production designer's quest began for a high-brightness, ultra-compact, low-weight fixture that could match the criteria of high performance with trucking and touring economy.
“I have a great relationship with GLP, and although I had not worked with the Volkslichts before, I have used their impression 90's on a bunch of shows, and they are one of my favorite â€˜go to' fixtures.”
But when it came to product selection he was confronted with a vast range of options. “We looked at a lot of similar format features — but as soon as we saw [the Volkslicht Zoom] at GLP's warehouse we knew we had found the perfect fixture. We ordered them there on the spot and Kevin Forster at Epic Production Technologies — who supplied all the tour lighting — made the purchase.” The additional Volkslicht Zooms bring Epic Production Technologies' inventory of these fixtures up to 110, with the same number of impression 90's.
“Aside from the fact they are super-bright, small and fast, with a 155ft wide stage I needed a small fixture because of the trucking footprint,” Allen explains. “These weigh just 8kg apiece … but the packaging is also really good, with just six heads contained in a tiny case which means the show can be stripped in minutes when we break down afterwards.”
The Volkslicht Zoom uses 60 Luxeon Rebel LED's in an RGB configuration to give a broad mixing palette of colours from its primary saturates, through to the more subtle pastel shades. Aside from its diminutive footprint and weight the fixture has a motorised zoom, changing its beam size from 10 to 26 degrees, whilst maintaining a strong output, with incredibly fast pan and tilt movement.
“What you can do with them is unbelievable … they are incredibly fast and the zoom is everything you could want. There is a white mode which is particularly useful — in fact it delivers a true white, which was so impressive that it became the entire show,” stated Allen.
Jesse Blevins was equally enthusiastic. “The Volkslichts offer a lot of light in a very small package and I couldn't be happier,” he stated. “The pan/tilt is not only extremely fast but also very accurate, the color mixing of the LED is as good as any I have seen and the dimmer curve is great — giving a very even fade from zero to full. The white LED also has as much punch as the RGB.”
In addition to the indoor arenas, the bands also appeared before an audience of around 40,000 at Boston's Fenway Park, in NKOTB's home city.
“We decided to change some focuses on the thrust lights, throwing them on to the audience … and they were so bright you could see them right out in the stalls,” Allen confirms.
“In fact I have never put a fixture through its paces in my life like we do with the Volkslichts … it's the most fun you can have with your clothes on!”
For more information, contact GLP Inc. at +1 818 767 8899 or [email protected]