Sooner Routhier, Robert Long
USA – In February, legendary rock band KISS began their End of the Road World Tour, a farewell extravaganza that will continue through 2019 - and possibly beyond. Delivering the band’s unmistakable brand of large-scale rock and roll theatrics for this final outing, production designers Robert Long and Sooner Routhier of SRae Productions, along with associate designer Ashley Zapar, specified the Vari-Lite VL6000 Beam luminaire to add a bold and dynamic presence to their show design.
Having worked with the band for some years now, the design partners are well versed in the essential requirements of a KISS live spectacular, which Long describes as “Equal parts of fire, lasers, metal, leather, and controlled chaos.”
“The band has trusted Robert and I to create their shows for a number of years now,” says Routhier. “They trust us to build a large video and lighting show around the individual moments that make a quintessential KISS concert.”
“Our main objective,” explains Long, “was to bring about a large rock show fit for the band’s final hoorah around the globe. We had to ensure that the traditional KISS gags and feel were in the show, but in a more elevated fashion.”
The stage design features the band’s familiar stage lifts, flying gags and fiery pyro that loyal KISS fans worldwide have come to love and expect. Framing the action are a large upstage LED screen, lined with LED strips in bold color, and an overhead canopy of studded, octagonal ‘video pods’.
Discussing the KISS show style and their choice of lighting fixtures, Long says, “KISS requires an old school light show with simple cuing that accents the music but isn’t overly embellished. The music is simple, four on the floor, rock and roll with heavy guitar riffs. We need lights that would reflect that, but in a modern way.”
To help achieve this, their lighting specification included 44 VL6000 Beam luminaires from moving light pioneer Vari-Lite. These large-format, searchlight-style fixtures, with their powerful, color-changing beams and retro good looks, fitted the bill perfectly. “The lens of the light was our primary draw to the fixture,” says Long. “It has the feel of an old-school ray light. We also love the size; it has a presence in the air that a lot of fixtures can’t match.”
The VL6000 Beams are suspended from large pantographs above stage, and on trusses that run stage right and stage left above the audience. “We use the pantographs to ‘poke’ out from behind the video pods, lowering them in and out to create different positions above the stage,” says Routhier.
Says Long, “One of our favorite VL6000 Beam moments in the show is during the Paul Stanley guitar solo at the top of Black Diamond. The pantographs come down in a song-specific automation move that really showcases the fixture.”
In keeping with the need for bold looks without over embellishment, the designers have taken care to restrain their use of the VL6000 Beam’s aerial effects capability. “We rarely use the gobos in the fixtures . . . They’re almost always used as a large beam of colored light,” says Routhier.
She adds, “We love the look they add to the show.”
KISS’s End of the Road World Tour visits Europe in the summer and is scheduled to continue until December 2019.