New Jersey, USA – The epic Utopia concert by Latin American music superstar Romeo Santos broke the all-time concert gross record for a single performance at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium on 21 September. Produced by Live Nation, the sold-out concert saw Santos joined by guest artists including Raulín Rodríguez, Elvis Martínez, Luis Vargas and rapper Cardi B.
Yamil Charif and Richard Vicens of YC3 Lighting Design took charge of the entire design for the four-hour show, at the request of Santos’ Production Manager, Javier Rolo. “The artist had an idea of what he wanted, but he gave us a lot of creative freedom to interpret that,” says Charif. “Between Javier, Richard and myself, we created a concept and presented it to the artist. He loved it and we took it from there.”
At the heart of the show’s rich visual design, Charif and Vicens specified more than 100 lighting fixtures from Vari-Lite among their extensive lighting rig. Lining the 260ft wide stage and multiple ‘Runways’ were Vari-Lite’s unique VL6000 Beam fixtures. These were partnered for the first time by the new VL6500 Wash, which made its world debut on Utopia. Sharing the same large format body as the VL6000 Beam, the 50,000-lumen output VL6500 Wash fixture features the distinctive radial diffusion blades and advanced CYM+CTO color mixing. In addition, Vari-Lite VL4000 BeamWash and VL3500 Wash FX fixtures were also specified for their distinctive, powerful output and effects capability.
To achieve their concept, lighting fixtures were carefully selected to fulfil specific purposes. “We chose the VL6000 Beam for the Runways because of its unique look and its intensity,” says Charif. “We knew it was going to look great on camera and have the punch that we need in a stadium like the Metlife.”
This ‘punch’ from the fixtures was essential not just because of the scale of the venue, but also because almost every surface of the enormous stage – walls, ceiling and floor – was covered with bright LED screen. Lower powered beams would have been lost against this background.
Making the most of their looks and output, Charif and Vicens positioned 48 VL6000 Beams across the stage’s Runways, with 24 of the new VL6500 Wash fixtures lining the sides of the stage. “Being the first to use the VL6500 Wash was very exciting,” says Charif. “It’s similar in size and output to the VL6000 Beam, but looks like the old school VL5, with those blades. It’s a super-cool look, but at the same time we have the output we need in a stadium to create beams and shapes.”
He adds, “When the artists walked on the runways, the way the VL6000s and VL6500s would surround them made the stage look even bigger than it was.”
For Charif, the Vari-Lite fixtures were essential elements of the design. “Those lights were the most important fixtures for us,” he says. “We were very strict about the Runway and stage fixtures being the VL6000s and the VL6500s. They were the only fixtures in our rig that were non-negotiable. There is literally nothing else on the market will give us that effect. And they work together very well - they really exceeded expectations for us.”
Working alongside Charif and Vicens in achieving the show visuals were scenic engineer Gustavo Perezlindo, and lighting programmers Elian Charif and Tomas Villanueva. “It was a team effort,” says Charif. “My brother Elian, as lead programmer, and Tomas programmed the entire show, making Richard’s vision possible. They did an impressive job, took every detail into count and worked non-stop to get every single punch and hit recorded. We are lucky to have such a good team of passionate, energetic professionals.”