Lighting and production designer Marc Janowitz joined Phish lead singer/guitarist Trey Anastasio and his band—TAB for “Trey Anastasio Band”—for his latest solo tour in support of Paper Wheels. We caught up with the designer to see how this design compared to his last outing with TAB, and how, in many ways, it remained the same, given the challenges of recycling scenic elements from the previous tour. Be sure to read about the lighting design in Part One first.
LD: Did you go through any problems with merging the materials?
MJ: Well, these curved pipes were black, as was necessary for the previous design. The fabric stretch pieces were all white. For Traveler, I had used the GLP impression X4 when it was essentially brand new, and like most stage lights, they were black because typically you don’t want to see your light fixtures so much. On my demo day at VER, they only had white fixtures on hand.
I combined the white stretched shape with the white lighting fixture and mounted them to the black pipe and thought, “Wait a minute; everything here needs to be white.” I put some white tape over the curvy pipes. I up-lit it, and down-lit it, and turned everything on. That was it. I had a design.
The pipes and the clamps all went to the powder-coater. Some custom wire-rope lengths were ordered. For about 10% of the cost that we had spent on the previous design, we basically had a recycled set and a whole new look.
LD: How did you create the motion?
MJ: The stretch shapes were attached to the pipes with dog clips and key rings. Some of them just hung free, hanging under the pipes with one point. If they caught any sort of breeze or wind from a door opening in the building or caught the air movement from the hazer fans, they would start to rotate and spin and undulate on their own. Though I had originally considered some mirror ball motors to create some motion, it turned out they were unnecessary. We were able to achieve organic motion of all the design pieces without having to automate anything. Throughout the show, if I wanted to see them have a little bit more motion, I would toggle my hazers on and off a few times, because the fans were directed up at the array of swirls.
LD: How did moving lights on moving structures work out?
MJ: The structures were hung from single points of wire rope, allowing us to place them wherever we needed to on a daily basis. There was a lot of flexibility from venue to venue, but it did create quite a bit of swing and sway to the lights themselves. It was at first counterintuitive to think that you can take a moving light and hang it from a loose structure where the whole structure is going to swing around, but it turned out that it really wasn’t of great concern at all. The lights were mostly small enough, and the pieces were balanced enough that, when I’d move a fixture from one place to the other, it would find its position, perhaps overshoot its intended focus a little. If I wanted more motion from the scenery, I would turn off the X4 fixtures that were attached to them and set them on a fast pan, tilt effect. That got the whole array of scenic pieces to dance and swirl.
LD: What else was in the rig?
MJ: We really only had three styles of fixtures. Twenty-two Robe Robin MMX Spots were the profile fixtures, eight as part of an overhead package, and those would hang on whatever venue structure we could find, usually an upstage truss or batten. We had additional MMX Spots on the floor, some of which were meant to put texture on the white swirls, some of which were meant to give some sidelight, through-light, and beamy over-light to the whole rig. There were the GLP impression X4s on the swirls that created all the contour pieces. We had another ten X4s on the floor, whose primary function was to uplight the swirl pieces but also to emanate through and over the band as floor light.
The third fixture type was ten ETC Source Four PARS as a side floor light for key lighting the band and Trey. They were diffused with the Lee Filters 410 Opal creating a nice, soft diffuse cross light.
LD: How much of Trey’s show is run on the fly?
MJ: Trey doesn’t work from a set list. He decides between songs what it is he’s going to play next, and he has a microphone behind him so he can tell the front-of-house engineer and me the next song. That gives us somewhere between six and ten seconds, if we’re lucky, to select that page of programming. I have an establishing look for each song, and I have a lot of different handles and faders that I can use within that establishing look to be able to really have a lot of live access to how the songs are played back visually. I had several High End Systems Hog 3 Expansion Wings so that I had everything I needed at my fingertips and very little in the way of cue structure, other than one or two establishing looks per song.
28 GLP Impression X4
22 Robe Robin MMX Spot
10 ETC Source Four PAR
1 24'' Mirror Ball + Motor
1 High End Systems Wholehog 3
2 High End Systems Wholehog 3 Rock Expansion Wing
Lighting/Production Designer: Marc Janowitz, e26 Design
Vendor: VER (Susan Tesh, John Healy)
Lighting System Supervisor: Raymond C. Wszolek III
Production Manager: Paul “PI” Ingwerson