The Dave Matthews Band is back on the road this summer with a North American tour preceding the release of their album, "Away From The World," due out in September. Accompanying the band is a complement of equipment distributed by A.C.T Lighting, Inc., including two full-size grandMA2 consoles, a grandMA2 Light, two MDG 5000 high-output foggers, two MDG 3000 high-output foggers and 16 Clay Paky Sharpy fixtures.
All of the equipment was specified by the band's longtime lighting designer Fenton Williams and supplied by Theatrical Media Services Inc. (TMS) of Omaha, Nebraska.
Williams, who's also the overall visual designer for the tour, acts as co-lighting operator for the shows running one grandMA console while Aaron Stinebrink from TMS runs the second desk. "Fenton is very active and likes to augment on the fly during the show," says TMS's Pete Franks who serves as system crew chief on the road. "That's why there are two consoles always operating front of house - and there's a grandMA Light on hand for back up. All are networked together and can control lighting and the Green Hippo Hippotizer."
Franks notes that Williams transitioned to the grandMA2s after almost a decade of using grandMA1 consoles. "We never considered using another brand when looking for a new console," he says. "The new units are great with much more functionality. We've had no failure with the new units since we started using them."
Among the lights controlled by the grandMAs are 16 Sharpys, which were purchased new by TMS for the tour and are delivering "rock solid" performance. Williams has mounted them vertically on the video screen surrounds upstage of the band where they replace ACL-type lights he had used in the past. The lighting designer likes "the unique look of the fixture," says Franks as well as the Sharpys' "narrow beam angle."
The MDG foggers are also a hit with the show. "We really like the 100 percent duty cycle capabilities of the MDG," says Franks, whose company also boasts an inventory of MDG hazers. "They all use the same fluid. And they all do a great job."