It's certainly not your grandma's jamband tour. Nevertheless a grandMA2 light, manned by lighting designer Jason Liggett, is critical to band-audience interaction on Phish bassist Mike Gordon's solo tour in support of his album, "Overstep." A.C.T Lighting is the exclusive distributor of the MA Lighting in North America.
Gordon has conceived the show as something of an interactive art installation. One of his gags to encourage audience participation is a massive digital keyboard, called the EEL, stretching across the front of the stage. It has 55 keys and, at certain points in the show, the EEL illuminates and catches the attention of concertgoers in the front of house. Then it goes mostly dark with only a few keys remaining lit or active. Fans instinctively reach out to touch them and when they do they hear a bass, a snare drum, a piano. As they start to tap the keys the sounds take on the rhythm of the song played onstage and the fans get about 30 seconds to jam with the band.
'For two bars we're playing, then for two bars we go quiet and the audience plays, then for another two bars we play something that complements what they just did, and so on," Gordon has said. "We're having a duel with the audience."
Liggett, who heads Liggy Lighting Design LLC, has been a grandMA user since 2009. He transitioned to the grandMA2 for Gordon's tour "for its power and ability to handle anything externally and trigger devices," he says. "The ability to create MIDI triggers is great on that system."
The lighting designer worked with Andy Cass (http://www.andycass.com/) to tie in MIDI components with lighting and video elements. "Any of the commands running from the EEL goes through MIDI and the grandMA2 while I'm running the lights. It amazed me how easy it was to set up MIDI on the grandMA2 and get everything to talk nice."
Liggett uses between three and five universes per show, plus MIDI. "It's been great," he reports. "I've fallen in love with the layout view in the grandMA2. And the cloning is amazing. Using the layout view and cloning together I've cut hours and hours from my focus time in production."
He also gives kudos to the system's converter. "I've been able to bring over all the effects I've created since 2009," he says. "I really appreciate that. This board does it all for me, and I feel like I'm just scratching the surface. A.C.T Lighting has been great in supporting the grandMA2 as well."
Atomic Pro Audio provided the grandMA2 light for Liggett. BML provided all lighting and video gear.