Nine Inch Nails recently wrapped up their Cold And Black And Infinite Tour on December 12 at the Palladium in Los Angeles. To design the tour, production designer and lighting programmer/director Paul “Arlo” Guthrie and the creative team investigated a lot of new technologies and abandoned everything after one warm-up show in Bakersfield. Instead, the design was “down and dirty,” as Guthrie says, featuring smoke, fans, and par cans, without moving the lighting fixtures and keeping color to a minimum.
When creating the design concept, Guthrie asked himself, “What is the opposite of what everyone else is doing?” The result was a “fairly chaotic-looking environment with the ability for improvisation and live reaction every night,” he says.
The production designer worked closely with band members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who “have very strong visions, convictions, opinions, and an acute understanding regarding how a Nine Inch Nails show sits in the performance landscape,” explains Guthrie.
The team settled upon an “anti-design,” as Guthrie calls it, filled with shadows and “dirty” looks. In contrast to clean, linear rows of LEDs, this lighting rig was hot and in-your-face, and used “lots of pukey shades of white.” The rig comprised par cans; Robe MegaPointes; GLP JDC-1 strobes and impression X4 Bar 20s; and Chauvet Professional Strike 4 and Strike 1 LED blinders, programmed on two MA Lighting grandMA2 full size consoles with MA 3D software.
“I get a lot of different looks out of the JDC1s from strobe death to color washes,” states Guthrie. “We don’t move them while they are on but having the ability to reposition them means they can work the audience, the cyc, or the air. In all honesty, I love the textures of the par cans and the beam lights the best.”
“The Strike 4s are used as strobes and blinders throughout the show,” adds Guthrie. “In some songs, we deploy just one of the four cells in each fixture, while in others we have every cell on full blast. It all depends on the music.”
“Since the beginning of September, we’ve been touring a small overhead rig, but we have approached this series of shows with more of a stealth set-up than past NIN tours,” adds Guthrie.
Lighting and video: PRG supplied the lighting and video, while All Access Staging & Productions provided staging and fabrics with soft goods from SewWhat? “Getting the backdrop to look like an old diaper crossed with a used band-aid was a challenge,” says Guthrie. “Luckily, Megan Duckett at SewWhat? did an awesome job.”