Forty-eight of Robe’s LEDWash 1200s are in action on the current Garth Brooks U.S. tour, specified by the country megastar’s longstanding LD Dave Butzler, and purchased specially by leading rental house Bandit Lites. Brooks – whose staggering popularity continues to pack out arenas - has released his first studio album in 13 years “Man Against Machine” to coincide with the tour.
Butzler explained that Brooks was fully involved in creating the stage design, and while he wanted to WOW the crowds for this one, he wanted to keep the music – rather than the production - centre stage. To satisfy ticket sale demands and remain close to his audiences – for which he is famous - Brooks elected to play multiple dates in more intimate medium-sized arenas, rather than massive stadiums.
The starting point for Butzler’s lighting was a large center cluster of audio, so he designed around this and a central video cube. Brooks’ shows are sold 360 degrees so there are always seats behind the stage, which is at one end of the venue.
Thirty-six LEDWash 1200s are rigged in a series of Tyler trusses – they remain inside these sections for travelling between shows – and the truss sections are built into four T-shaped pods flown above the stage. The pods move into different positions throughout the show via 44 axis of automation running on one of Bandit’s proprietary Moto Data control systems.
These LEDWash 1200s are used to light the extensive stage and performance area which includes an aluminum set that also provides many reflections and interesting aberrations of the light.
The remaining 12 x LEDWash 1200s are rigged on the mother grid above and illuminate the architecture and dynamic shapes made by the T-pods as they move around.
It is Butzler’s first time using this popular Robe fixture. One reason for the choice was to save power as Brooks did not want to use additional generators.
Before seeing the LEDWash in action first hand, Butzler was still slightly skeptical about the richness and quality of LED source color output. However once he saw a demonstration this was blown away and he “Immediately fell in love” with the LEDWash 1200.
He likes the largeness of the source - on the Brooks tour lighting has to compete with four large LED screens onstage - and the fact that it’s so small and light for the immense output. He thinks the quality of the beam is excellent and finds the beam shaping - which facilitates tight or wide options – very useful.
He also appreciates the individual ring control, both the variance this brings to beam size and density and being able to instantly snap different colors into the rings. He uses these effects a lot during the set.
The song “Standing outside The Fire” is a particularly striking example, with flickering ambers and reds pulsing through the mapped rings with heavy smoke to ramp up the drama and anticipation, “You can really paint with these lights like no others,” he stated.
Apart from that, he’s really impressed with the reliability of the LEDWash 1200s. “They are absolutely rock-solid and ready to tour,” he said, adding that Robe’s brand new BMFL Spot is next on his wish list!
Photos by Sharon Gross