Killers On Tour

Currently on tour in support of Sam's Town, The Killers are selling out hundreds of performance venues from festivals to stadiums, with lighting design by Steven Douglas and overall show design by Bryan Leitch. “This new album and tour are quite themed,” says Douglas. “It's a departure, image-wise, from their previous album which was more glamour and influenced by European rock. With this tour, it seems the band wanted to go a bit edgier and grittier. I think they were tired of being labeled ‘the best British band from America,’ so they wanted to return to their American roots and revel in the fact that they are from Las Vegas. They wanted the look and feel to be old Americana.”

Douglas' design contains no video, except for a three-minute video intro using a Barco ELM R12 projector. “To me, lighting choices really all depend upon the song,” he says. “I don't like to sit down and put in effects just to be putting in effects. You can only light the music that the band is playing. The Killers' music is quite diverse, so my lighting needs to be as well.”

The rig includes Vari-Lite® VL3500 Spots, Martin MAC 2000 Wash units, Atomic Strobes, ETC Source Four ellipsoidals, DWE Mole Strips, DWE Mole Squares, Lycian M2 Truss spots, and AC Lighting Chroma-Q color blocks, all controlled via an Avolites D4 Vision. “We try to adapt new ideas all the time,” says Douglas. A Chainmaster VarioLift motor system supplied by Show Distribution in Quebec helps change the looks. “We can change the shape and look of the grid for each song, which helps to keep it interesting from a visual point of view for people who, at some of the shows, can be quite far away from the stage. It also helps fill in the space that exists in some of the bigger arenas on this tour.”

Designing for such a visual band meant using deep colors, but Douglas says that he only employs an average of three colors per song, noting he especially appreciates the color mixing of the VL3500s. “The color mixing of all the Vari-Lite fixtures is tremendous, going all the way back to the VL5 Wash,” he says. “I had previously used the 3000 Series luminaires as the lighting operator on James Taylor.”

On the current tour schedule, The Killers also play a number of festivals. For most of these dates, the band is the headliner. In these instances, Douglas advances the lighting design prior to their arrival. On festivals, however, where they are performing as co-headliners, Douglas uses the festival rig, complementing, as needed, with other fixtures. “At one festival, the house rig wasn't really up to standard,” he says, “So we hung our rig above theirs, and we absolutely blew the other bands away. We didn't use the festival rig at all.”

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