NEW YORK – Color creates a language all its own. Cameron Birchill offered living proof of this in his work for Beartooth on the metal band’s national co-headline Disease and Disguised Tour with Motionless in White, which ended January 30 in Fort Lauderdale. Using a collection of CHAUVET Professional Rogue R2 Wash lighting fixtures from Squeek Lights, he created an intricately subtle and intimate lexicon of colors that gave voice to the innermost passions running through the music from his client’s Diseased album.
Beyond reflecting the mood of the music itself, his color changes, along with his mix of bold hues with white light, served as a bridge between the audience and the deeply personal forces driving each song. This was plain to see (and feel!) in the prelude to the title song “Disease,” when frontman Caleb Shomo explained how this work was inspired by his own struggle with depression.
Birchill set the stage for this moment, creating a mood that managed to be raw and edgy, yet warm an sensitive, by mixing the warm white light from 50-percent dimmed down blinders, with a musky orange wash that was accented with wide white gobos spinning slowly inward. Captivated by this scene, it was easy for audiences to imagine that they were stepping into the deep recesses of someone’s consciousness.
“This was my favorite part of the lightshow,” said Birchill. “It was an emotional part of Beartooth’s set with our singer explaining why he wrote this record, and everything that went into it. It was a beautiful point in the show, connecting the artist with the audience, so it was very important to create a visual that fit the moment.”
The orange that Birchill used in this magical moment was one he named “Disease Orange,” in honor of his client’s song and album title. “At every show, my choice of colors always depends on the vibe of the song and which album it came from,” he said. “I try to keep a general color scheme that corresponds with the visualization of each album. On this tour, with the band playing many songs off their newest album, “Disease,” the we used an orange that reflected the album art, which in turn spoke to the deeper meaning of the music.”
For many of the songs in his 60 minute show, Birchill used “Disease Orange” as his primary color and accented it with whites. When the band played songs from previous albums, he turned to different palettes, such deep blues, greens and cyans. During some of the high impact songs, the lighting moved toward what Birchill calls “more hostile looks,” with primary reds accented with yellows.
“The Rogue R2s opened a lot of colorizing opportunities,” said Birchill. “They have an amazing color mix feature that allowed me to dial in my own presets and adapt to any house rig, regardless of whether it had fixtures with color mixing or color wheels.”
In addition to deftly managing colors, Birchill relied on backlighting and silhouetting to reflect his client’s raw, edgy sound. “I like to go to backlights and silhouette,” he said. “It creates this ominous look and adds a sense of mystery to the stage, both of which fit the essence of Beartooth’s sound.”
Birchill saved his dramatic backlighting and silhouetting for moments in the set when a big breakdown or energetic part was about to happen. “This calms the audience and draws their attention to the stage, allowing me to build up the energy and anticipation visually,” he explained. “I can make some unique strobes and effects complemented by the versatile focus, beam and colors of my Rogues.”
Along with its six Rogue R2 Wash lighting fixtures, Birchill’s rig included six CHAUVET DJ Shocker panels, which were hung on four-foot pipe and base below the drum riser. These fixtures were used to set the evocative mood during the build up to the band’s performance of their title song.
During the Disease and Disguised tour, Beartooth and Motionless in White alternated opening for one another. “I can’t say enough good things about Mike Null, Motionless in White’s lighting designer and the entire crew for them and Beartooth,” said Birchill. “I am Beartooth’s Tour Manager, in addition to the LD, and sometimes things got crazy, at which point Mike always covered for me during set up and tear down. The people I toured with and the people at Squeek Lights really made this a great experience.”
Looking back on that experience, Birchill recalls that the camaraderie on the tour pumped up everyone’s creative juices --- and that made every color glow more brightly.
Photo Credit: Sarah Hess
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