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Paramore ‘After Laughter’ Tour with Foster the People

by Steve Jennings (Photos and Text) • in
  • October 2018
  • Showtime
• Created: October 13, 2018

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Lighting Co

LMG Touring

Venue

Various (Tour)

Crew

Creative Directors: Gordon Droitcour, Erik Anderson/Cour Design

Lighting Designer: Gordon Droitcour

Lighting Director: Chad Peters

Lighting Programmer: Aaron Luke

LMG Account Rep: Craig Mitchell

Lighting Crew Chief: Shelly LaBerge

Lighting Tech: Joel Hernke

Video Director: Cade Moore

Video Co: LMG Touring

Video Crew Chief: Wade Mannes

Tour Manager: Andrew Weiss

Assistant Tour Manager: Natalie Hosselton

Production Manager: Travis Bing

Video Content: Mike Kluge/M.K.A.V

Stage Manager: Sam “Fish” Wilson

Riggers: Steve Carlson

Staging: Gallagher Staging

Trucking: Stage Call

 

Gear

2       grandMA2 Full consoles

39     Robe MegaPointes

26     Martin Quantum Washes

24     Robe Robin 600’s

12     GLP JDC1 Strobes

8       Eurolite 1×2 LED Blinders

4       Base Hazer Pros

1       Video package with custom FLED 11mm LED tiles, disguise d3 media servers w/ Notch, Ross video switcher, camera package

More Paramore tour photos by Steve Jennings:

Designer Insights by Steve Jennings:

Having completed their After Laughter tour of 2017, Paramore jumped right back on the road this year for another tour — this time with the band Foster The People. Fans got a great pairing for a double bill of lively music. We spoke with both bands’ designers and touring LD’s — for Paramore, designer Gordon Droitcour and lighting director Chad Peters; and for Foster The People, we talked with designer Zachary Matusow and lighting director Joe Gasque.

 

PARAMORE

Gordon Droitcour

Co-Creative Director

Cour Design is Gordon Droitcour and Erik Anderson. They started their business back in 2015 after touring at the club level together. Prior to this, Droitcour was a production manager and FOH engineer, and Anderson was tour managing the world with various groups. They found out quickly that they were each others’ other half when it came to production, design, and logistics.

“We started off by working with bands to help solve problems that comes with being a club level, theater level or arena opening act. The first thing we did that got us some traction was the process that we developed for triggering lighting and video with MIDI notes. This was popular with the bus and trailer sized bands as we filled the needs of the “middle class” of the music industry in the touring space. We gave an affordable and creative option to young bands on the rise, but those bands also happen to be the bands that we love to listen to anyway so it was a great fit. Some of these bands that we first started with included St. Lucia, The Knocks, Maren Morris, Melanie Martinez and X Ambassadors.

“Now, since we have grown a little, are focusing on our process of creating innovative and creative shows that include a multitude of different production elements. We want to stay true to our original passion of problem solving for the evolving artist, but also start to grow into larger markets as well. We recently have started a video content division that allows us to make great renders and visual content for our roster of clients.

“Paramore came to Cour Design via their longtime friend and now our head of content, Mike Kluge. He is an insanely talented programmer and visual artist in the video space. We had a lot of fun working together on Young the Giant and ended up just hanging out a lot afterwards. We all love problem solving and coming up with new and wild visuals and it just seemed to be a good fit. He had been doing content for Paramore in the past and was a friend of the bands. They were looking to try a new direction with their lighting setup, so he thought we could give it a shot — and here we are.”

Anderson was the main brain behind this design concept, notes Droitcour. “We have always tried to push the limits of normal design by taking a common production element and adding a slight twist to it. This was definitely an idea that had us scratching our heads for a while, but the LMG team and James Miller at Gallagher Staging helped us find a way to secure two-way mirror sheets to 40’ of video panels at a 20 degree angle, 30 feet in the air.

“We love the idea of growing a show narrative via the production elements involved in the show — the idea of surprising the crowd with something they don’t see right away. The band said they wanted a way to feel close to the fans but still have the space to interact with one another on stage. We were trying to think of ways to get the crowd more involved in the show, so what better way than to just put them into the design! All of the mirrors were angled at a 20-degree slant that allowed for a direct reflection of the audience. A few songs in we revealed the video behind the mirrors. It was hard to anticipate the impact in the design phase or rehearsals, so seeing the crowd at the first show felt really great.

“Obviously, with any of these projects, we always wish we had more time, but if you add too much time, you will always fill it to the last second anyway. When the band approached us to come up with concepts, they gave us the list of venues that they were playing and we wanted something that obviously looked great in all sizes, but knew that scalability is always a problem that is unfortunately not thought about much. We tried to think like the techs having to deal with this, and come up with something that the biggest version fit in the smallest place, but could also stretch if the place got bigger without too much re-rigging, re-wiring, or re-thinking. We also saw so many designs recently with the “rearrangement of truss to make an interesting geometric shape” and wanted to just keep it simple with a rock and roll flat truss situation. That of course led to lightning fast load ins and outs with most of the time spent Windex-ing the mirrors. Budget was the budget, but we made it work with the help of some clever thinking on the vendor side.

“I think the most fun thing about working with a band like Paramore is that they are always pushing the level of what feels good on stage. When we first showed them our content (lighting/video), they were fine, but they weren’t blown away. They pushed us to make it better, and though in the moment, it didn’t feel good to hear that, in the end, the product came out to be SO much better because of it. I think mainly though, I’d like to thank the band and the band’s touring management for the opportunity and chance they took on us. I know we are a young design firm and it might have been hard to let us try, but I’m glad they did because we learned so much from all of them. LMG and their crew were fantastic, couldn’t have asked for a better experience there. They taught us so much as well. The folks at Gallagher Staging in Nashville really stepped it up as well to make this happen. Chad Peters is the man, no one can trigger a show like he can. Everyone asked if the show was time-coded and I would always say, “Nope, that sh*t is Chad-coded.’”

 

Chad Peters

Lighting Director

Paramore has a longstanding trust with lighting director Chad Peters, who has been their LD for nearly 11 years. Peters says he’s very fortunate to have such a great touring family and working with Paramore, it’s always a collaborative process.

“Working with Gordon was great… a rad dude. The first time I worked with him was on the final leg of the last tour when he was brought in to freshen up lighting programming.

“The biggest challenge on this tour was that we were doing sheds through one of hottest summers ever. The amounts of sweaty hands that were touching all of the mirror panels as they were being hung did not help us out… Fingerprints everyday! It was like a full time job just keeping them clean. Super thanks to all the crew guys and girls that kept this a relatively easy tour. It’s always nice to have some bus time in the afternoon!

 

FOSTER THE PEOPLE

Lighting Co

LMG Touring

 

Crew

Lighting Designer: Zachary Matusow

Lighting Director: Joe Gasque

Lighting Programmer: Zachary Matusow, Eamonn McKiernan

Scenic Design Support: Trevor Burk, Phil Kong

Tour Manager: Sophie Reeves

Production Manager: Anders Karlsson

Production Assistant: Rebecca Weyrauch

Stage Manager: Dylan Kerbrat

Lighting Crew Chief: Ryan Megaw

Staging: All Access

Trucking: SET

 

Gear

2       grandMA2 Light consoles

10     Robe Megapointes

12     Solaris Flare Q+

8       Source 4 Lustr 2

2       Jem ZR45 Hazers

2       AF-1 Fans

85′    LED Neon Flex, molded into a custom sign

 

Designer Insights by Steve Jennings:

Zachary Matusow

Lighting Designer & Programmer

Lighting designer & programmer Zachary Matusow has been with Foster The People (FTP) as lighting designer since 2011, right around the time of their debut album, Torches, was released. Since then, the band has toured under two or three unique designs per each of their three records. Matusow notes that they’ve also pulled off elaborate one-off design efforts such as 2013’s Firefly Festival, and a string of festivals in South Africa in 2016.

“Whenever tour dates pop up while the band is writing a new record, we’ll often audition new design concepts. It’s sort of nice to shake things up aiming to better serve the themes of the new album-in-progress.”

On this iteration of the Sacred Hearts Club tour design, Matusow needed to conform to a shared rig with Paramore. Because their time slot was normally supporting, it was crucial to have a rig that could setup and strike in a mere matter of minutes, and as such, the bulk of their equipment lived inside rolling pre-rig truss carts.

Normally, FTP carries additional floor elements like side lights and footlights, but Paramore already had some of their own, and FTP avoided redundancy by sharing those positions — the entire rig for both bands being supplied by LMG.

“Coming together with Paramore provided a more expeditious setup, and fluid changeover process. Fixture-wise, I chose a combination of hybrids, LED strobes and [ETC] Source Four Lustr 2’s. The [Robe] MegaPointes did most of the heavy lifting for musical cues, while Solaris flares provided the main accent, sometimes as a wash effect, other times as a strobe. I spec’d Lustr 2’s because of their amazing color system, and primarily utilized them for lighting the interstitial moments of the show.

“A core concept of this cycle was strong silhouettes with intense fog — open, exposed, and raw. As such, the Lustr’s became a motif throughout the set, sort of a “home base” look, at the beginning, end, and in between songs. On headline shows, if the band performs an encore, sometimes we’ll remove the S4 lensing, producing a next level rainbow effect with haze. Lastly, we utilized two ZR-45 foggers to supplement Paramore’s tour hazers, for creating little “smoke bombs” around the performance area.”

Matusow spent three or four days updating his touring grandMA file in preparation for the run with Paramore. Foster The People also had a deal of one-off shows throughout the summer, so this pre-production time took all that into consideration. On-site, however, it was basically plug-any-play, everything came together on the 1st day of tour. Both bands had restrictive schedules beforehand, prohibiting full-scale rehearsals, but considering each had already been touring for the better part of last year, this throw-and-go start to the tour ended up working quite well.

“Our current design is an actually an evolution of one that debuted in the spring of 2017. Designed in collaboration with Trevor Burk of Visual Noise Creative, we created an overhead “lighting” system where the main fixtures were projectors shooting through multiple portals of translucent material, outlined with custom LED channeling. There were also other LED pixel elements, and various linear lighting strips lining the stage. As the tour cycle evolved traveling to different continents, we set aside the overhead system in lieu of a custom LED neon sign that echoed a running motif of the band’s throughout this cycle (occasionally on the road, they’ll pop into a local bar for a punk rock covers set, all played on borrowed equipment. The only design element was a small “Sacred Hearts Club” neon sign over their heads). We decided to translate the vibe of those secret shows into our own concerts by building out a 23-foot-wide “faux” LED neon sign, which had full pixel control.

“We had so much great support from LMG on this one, thanks to folks like Craig Mitchell, Kevin Maas, Dave Jacobs, as well as Paramore’s lighting techs: Shelly LaBerge and Joel Hernke, who went the extra mile to help our set run just as smoothly as theirs. Additionally, it was a joy to work alongside Paramore’s longtime touring LD Chad Peters, who set the right tone out the gate on this one. A real class act.”

 

Joe Gasque

Lighting Director

After Lighting Director Joe Gasque relocating to NYC in 2011, Zach was one of the first LDs Gasque worked with. “He actually helped me get one of my earlier gigs in the city. We don’t get to work together often these days, so when the timing lined up for this gig, I jumped at the opportunity.”

For this mostly-shed summer tour, Foster The People were on before dark. Gasque notes that it can be frustrating in that there’s no easy way around the fact that you can’t see most of the design during the late day. “Haze helps a little for getting the positions updated, assuming the wind is cooperating that day… It’s a challenge, but what really helps is having a rig that’s built consistently every day. Our lighting crew chief, Ryan, was a key element in combating the challenges of the outdoor shows we had.”

More Foster the People tour photos by Steve Jennings:

 

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