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Chauvet Professional and Squeek Lights Help Richard Fong Create Distinct Looks for Joywave and iDKhow

iDKhow performance. Photo: shanphotomaker

Lighting a coheadline tour can, at times, be a tricky proposition, especially when one of the acts wants to build its show around a car wash theme, complete with a sawed off Corvette on stage, while the other opts for a more romantic setting. Richard Fong faced this situation when he was called upon to light The Welcome to Hellvetica Tour, featuring Joywave and iDKhow.

"For me, the design process always starts with a conversation about what story the band wants to tell onstage," says Fong. "Joywave wanted to go all-in on a very theatrical car wash themed show. iDKhow is also a very theatrical band, but on this tour, they wanted to take a somewhat different route."

Drawing on the fresh original energy and vitality that characterizes both up and coming bands, Fong has successfully navigated his way through this dual mission, creating shows that are true to the vision of each client, while also providing fans with a single, and consistently engaging visual experience. Helping him accomplish this is a collection of Chauvet Professional fixtures supplied by Squeek Lights.

He explained how the design process unfolded: "After talking to the bands, I distinguished different looks and elements for each show based on their sound and stage presence. So, for example, Joywave's show has a lot of big beam movements and looks that mirror the movement of the lead singer who is always running around on stage. Whenever he throws his hands down on a big hit, the lights do the same. If he sweeps his arms up in a pre-chorus build, there's going to be beams sweeping up. In our conversations we've referred to this as him conducting the lights."

Although the design for IDKHOW's show is still focused on the band members, there isn't quite as much movement. "Dallon is the lead singer, but he also plays the bass, so he's often downstage center for most of the show," explains Fong. "This gives me the opportunity to really play with sculpting the light around him with different angles. I often have him and the other members in a downlight special, but depending on the mood of the song they also get hit with sidelight or a moody angled upright."

Helping Fong create captivating light angles for both bands are his rig's 12 Rogue R1 BeamWashes. "I come from a theatre background, so I'm always looking for interesting ways to light people on stage," he says. "Specifically, I use some of the R1 BeamWashes at a very wide and low angle to get some interesting rim lighting on the bands, and that really helps pull focus to them. At the same time, it also doesn't take away from the video content."

Also helping Fong make individual band members stand out on stage are eight Maverick Force S Spot fixtures, four of which are positioned on top of truss towers, and for arranged on the deck. "Their zoom gives me the narrow beam necessary for the high energy moments, and the selection of gobos really helps define some beautiful looks," he says of the fixtures.

"Originally, I thought I had to be exclusive in my programming for each show to feel unique," continues Fong. "But as soon as I started playing with the rig, I realized I could get very distinct looks while still using all the fixtures for both shows. The Maverick Force S Spots are especially versatile. For Joywave's show they are mostly zoomed down to a very tight beam, and for IDKhow's show I utilize the gobos and prism effects quite a lot. They are the first fixture where I felt like I could throw them in a gobo look with prism effects and not worry about a loss of brightness."

Also featured in the rig are eight Color Strike M fixtures, a pair of which flanks each of the Force S Spot units on the towers. Fong uses their RGB faces to compliment the rigs video wall with texture, while relying on the white strobe tubes to add excitement to big moments and highlight the Corvette scenic piece.

"The Corvette is a very fun element, a lot of the video design by Ann Slote is based around the car, making it seem like we are moving through a car wash or driving along a vaporwave highway," said Fong. "In terms of the lighting, I tried to think of it as a character in a show. It starts off very normal looking with red brake lights and flashing hazard lights to the beat, then as the show progresses, it starts to take on the personality of the music."

A favorite look of Fong's in the show comes at the end of Joywave's song "Travelling at the Speed of Light," when the output from the Color STRIKE M tubes becomes blindingly bright. "The video design of the song is a journey into a retro-psychedelic-vaporwave outer space, like the scene in Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'" he says. "At the very end we reach this field of stars, and I slowly ramp up the lights to this bright white look that beautifully backlights the band and fills up the whole room."

Another highlight for Fong are when iDKhow does a cover of "Heaven is a Place on Earth" and the Maverick Force S and R1 BeamWash fixtures create '80s style sweeping beams. A third is during the final song of their set "Kiss Goodnight," which uses all the Maverick Force S fixtures pointed out with a classic dots gobo and the prism slowly rotating.

These favorites involve two very different kinds looks that reflected two very different client visions, but in the hands of a skilled designer they've been contributing to one very magical evening every show on this coast-to-coast tour.


(29 September 2022)

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