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Phish Hit the Road with Robe for Summer Tour

Phish's summer tour. Photo: Andrew "Gif" Giffin

Phish delivered a fantastic summer tour experience for fans in North America, uniting another highly talented collaborative lighting team of Chris Kuroda, longtime lighting designer for Phish, and associate designer Andrew "Gif" Giffin, who have created a dynamic and eye-catching design with the help of 72 x Robe Tetra2 moving LED bars and 60 x Robe Spiiders.

The band has amassed a loyal, enthusiastic, and cross generational following over the years and are known for their genre-blending extended jams and innovative improvisations.

Kuroda and Giffin have been working together on Phish live projects since 2009 and enjoy a great synergy and all the benefits of working as a creative duo.

Giffin initially joined Kuroda as programmer and is now the associate lighting designer and most creative decisions are made jointly. Kuroda says laughing, "Sometimes we bicker about choices like the proverbial 'old married couple'," but this clearly works, and whatever the dynamic, the duo produces spectacular imaginative results for Phish and a host of other projects on which they also work in tandem.

This latest Phish tour design process started in the summer of 2021 when the band came back for their first performances since February 2020. With no LED screens or IMAG video on the tour, the visual language is defined by lighting and movement as the band want the audience to focus primarily on the music.

The Phish signature automated truss aesthetic that has featured in recent years remained, with 30 sticks of 5', 8', and 10' truss each flown on two Kinesys Apex motors with TAIT Navigator control. This system is reimagined with new elements including the Tetra2s which produce a completely distinctive look and vibe from anything that has gone before.

When Kuroda and Giffin started thinking about the 2021-22 design and getting the Tetra2's onboard, they wanted to go beyond producing impressive static shapes and architectural looks with the trusses, and to tweak the geometry further by shifting and bending these "lines of delineation."

"We like to use innovative products and thought the Tetra2 was the perfect fixture for this," states Kuroda, adding that the cues and looks required to create this shape-shifting architecture were all developed "very organically" during the pre-programming and production rehearsal periods.

A single Tetra2 fixture was added to the 5ft sections, two to the 8' sections and three to the 10' pieces. As well as highlighting the form of the black trusses, the Tetra2s' great versatility is used for multiple effects -- from sheets and curtains of light to flyaway looks to pixel effects -- as well as reflecting the changing trussing patterns which at times flip vertically and fly up to 50' in the air and down as low as 6' off the stage.

"The original plan was just to pick out the trussing architecture but when we discovered just how much the Tetra2 can do...it quickly evolved into the 'feature fixture' of the show," notes Giffin. He elucidates that they don't always have the whole Tetra2 bar illuminated. Individual pixel control plus the excellent 4° - 45° zoom and the fact that each pixel has its own lens opens "whole new universes" of possibilities for creating funky, dramatic, and fluid looks and chases.


(30 September 2022)

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