USA – For the latest tour by US hip hop collective Beast Coast – including Joey Badass, the Flatbush Zombies and The Underachievers – lighting designer Tom Edwards was called on to deliver the visual accompaniment of the high-energy production.
“I’ve been working with Joey Badass for the past two years,” says Edwards, from the UK office of lighting design studio Mandylights. “There’s been talk of Beast Coast doing a US shed/arena tour for the past year, so when the brief came in, we were prepared to hit ‘go’.”
For this outing, the Beast Coast stars wanted something visually different to previous shows. “The brief was, ‘think post-apocalyptic, Escape from New York, Thunder Dome and Mad Max’,” says Edwards. “They specifically didn’t want video, so we had to come up with a visually stimulating concept that could keep the crowd interested in the show, whilst trying to give the 12 artists on stage a multi-levelled platform to perform on.”
Edwards worked closely with the artists and their management teams to get the design to the point where everyone was happy, which Edwards says was an easy process thanks to the existing relationship.
He says, “The design is huge for the venues we’re taking it in to. The show always needed a large, powerful beam fixture. We have 250 other fixtures in the rig, so we needed something that could cut through the sheer brightness on stage. The VL6000 was the obvious choice. It’s the closest thing to a modern searchlight, with a huge reflective face. The powerful light output and the speed of the unit really stand out.”
For this tour, the units were placed on the stage floor. “The guys onstage fly around in harnesses during some songs, and we used the VL6000s to cut through the air while they were performing. The whole show is time-coded with a couple of thousand cues, so the VL6000s are used heavily for the whole show.”
And Edwards is as appreciative of Vari-Lite’s support as he is of the fixtures themselves. “Amber Etra at Vari-Lite has been great in the past, demo’ing fixtures to us. One quick call and we had one sat in our pre-vis suite in Newcastle to program ahead of flying out to the US to set the tour up.”
He adds, “The VL6000 Beam did exactly what we intended. They work hard during the show and seem to be standing up to the chaos!”