Hard rock band Chevelle has embarked on a summer amphitheater tour in North America with Breaking Benjamin. Ayrton Khamsin profile luminaries are joining the band on the road controlled by a MA Lighting grandMA2 light with NPUs. ACT Lighting, Inc. is the exclusive distributor of both brands in North America.
Chevelle has sold over four million albums in the US. Their eighth, “The North Corridor,” was released three years ago; “12 Bloody Spies,” a compilation of B-sides and rarities is available now. A new record is forthcoming in 2020. The amphitheater tour kicked off July 21 in St. Louis and will conclude September 25 in Salt Lake City.
Production Designer Robb Jibson of Chicago-based So Midwest, Inc. was looking for a 1000W LED lighting fixture with a shuttering mechanism, which would close completely over itself in one direction. He held a shoot-out featuring “the top contenders” in the category. While “all the fixtures we tested did a good job,” he says that “Khamsin was the most well engineered, the most well-polished” of the group. “Its optics, clarity and perceived brightness won out,” Jibson reports. “I also liked its edge sharpness, the flatness of the field and the way it physically looked.” Chevelle’s lighting vendor Bandit Lites invested in Khamsins for its inventory and supplied them to the tour.
The tour was a late addition to Chevelle’s schedule, and the team at SMW had just a short period of time to design the summer shows. “We have a new concept that we are working on for the next record cycle and considered revealing it for this summer tour, which really falls in-between the record cycles for them. So we decided to just adapt a few elements from it as a preamble to next tour,” he explains.
The Chevelle’s tour performances feature no video and no spotlights. Instead, big frames of LED light battens ring the band in a semi-circle around the stage. The Khamsins are mounted in rolling carts on a custom adaptation of pre rig truss. “Their primary focus is to provide stage luminance, but are tasked for some energetic moments and they deliver big aerials and big beamy looks that fill all the negative space,” says Jibson. “We are also fortunate that we are the only act that uses haze for atmospheric looks so we have the ability to create contrasting looks to the other bands!”
He points out that the band always asks him to use lighting “to capture the feeling, energy and emotion” of their set list with “bold, bright looks” in different moments with varying themes. Sometimes these are over the top wash outs of light but “don’t always resort to audience focuses that blind their fans.” On this tour the band’s time slot spans sunset to full darkness so they programmed the lights with that in mind. “We have some early big looks and then when it’s dark the power of the Khamsins drive home more saturated color and layered beams of light,” Jibson says.
He also devised some innovative techniques for the tour. Using a mirrored aluminum substrate that are placed on the floor of stage just upstage of the band, the Khamsins can shoot into the mirror and bounce the light up for a backlit, moody, silhouetted look that seems like the fixture is in the floor just behind the performer. The bounce technique is also used on the drum riser, which directs beams of light up onto the drummer.
“Khamsin’s shuttering is amazing,” Jibson notes. “The fixture offers new ways to do shuttering that are so flexible and versatile: You can use the shutters almost like a gobo in many cases, morphing shapes with timing that matches the music!.”
While the Khamsins’ “raw horsepower and output” are ideal for big, powerful looks he also believes the lighting fixtures offer “opportunities to do more deeply layered and tailored looks for smaller venues, too – looks you’re not used to seeing in venues that size. It’s an exciting time for the technology and will bring new levels and layers to audiences not used to seeing them. “Because heat, power and size are all reduced, you can use these fixtures massive output to go through more glass than you would with fixtures that you would typically utilize in a 2500 to 5000 seat venues.”
Jibson says the Khamsins have been “exceeding my hopes” on the amphitheater tour, and he “absolutely plans to roll them over to the band’s next tour,” which will soon be announced.
The team programmed the current tour on So Midwest’s new grandMA3 Light [in MA2 mode] at its studio in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. For the tour they are operating a grandMA2 Light with NPUs supplied by Bandit Lites.