DJ Brondo’s Bass Jungle

by Mike Wharton • in
  • July 2019
  • Staging Design
• Created: July 12, 2019

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Brondo appears in his jungle. Photos by Snapaholix.

Rythm EFX Transforms Denver’s Summit Music Hall with Foliage, Visuals

Over the past decade, the creative design scene in and around Denver, CO has become well known regionally and nationally for its mark on the live event production. Twelve years ago, Zack Klassen and Kayzha Shepard founded Rythm EFX with an impact that was immediately noticeable. Both had theater degrees and more than 10 years experience working in live event production. Klassen (a.k.a. “The Boss”) is the lead designer and president of the company. Shepard (“The Glue”), his partner in life and work, is the event coordinator. She ensures that Klassen’s vision for their clients comes to light.

Jungle Pods act as a canopy

‡‡         Welcome to the Jungle

On May 11, they helped Brondo, a Colorado-based DJ, pack Denver’s Summit music hall with his “Bass Jungle” show, creating an immersive environment with a unique set and visual design to accompany Brondo’s beats.

“We originally were a special effects and laser based company,” notes Klassen, “but grew quickly after investing in LED video, and moving light equipment to back a tour for the local band, Pretty Lights.” During those early years, the Rythm team began to realize the need for “customization in the events we were doing.” They began emphasizing to their clients the impact of sets, props, cues and other theater-driven effects. Before long, the concept spread quickly across the Denver music scene as a trend in shows.

Klassen had worked with Brondo’s manager, Ha Hau, for several years on projects such as Global Dance Festival, Decadence and Supernatural. Hau is credited as the visionary who helped put Denver on the map of the EDM scene. “We provide large-scale props and set pieces to set the feel of the event’s theme, and then tie in our LED video, lighting and special effects for the various stages,” says Klassen.

Kvant Lasers scan above the crowd

‡‡         Setting the Tone

For the Bass Jungle show in May, “we started conception on this project back in January, however, at that time, a show date had not yet been announced and was not announced for several months to keep the identity of Brondo secret,” Klassen says. With fans so familiar with Brondo’s work, “we were able to help him create the set list to add to the impactful arc of the show. His input, in turn helped us capture the feel he wanted the audience to have as soon as they entered the building,” Klassen adds.

Out of these meetings, the Bass Jungle concept was born. “We created jungle flora and fauna that cascaded from the stage to immerse the 1,700 seat venue from floor to ceiling and front to back,” says Klassen. “Nine ‘Jungle Pods’ were hung from the ceiling in the venue that ended up looking just wonderful,” says Klassen. “Staggered at varying heights, the pods took on an ‘Avatar movie’ likeness and wound up looking better than we imagined.”

The Pods consisted of five-by-five foliage-covered lightweight mesh racks, with multiple types of artificial vines for vertical accents. Completing the look, Rythm EFX wove leaves lining the stairways and railing that led to the balcony, then trailed back down to the FOH position and bar. With a kabuki hung downstage and subtle lighting throughout the venue, the audience was immediately plunged into Brondo’s jungle-like world upon entering the Summit music hall.

50 Oracle Black Widow HD9 panels served as the visual backdrop

‡‡         Previz, the Diorama and Custom Video

A lot of previsualizations were done during the beginning phases of the build, using the computer rendering and a sculpted diorama, before actual construction began, and Shepard created the diorama upon which the set was based.

“We used the two as a model to take mental notes on how we wanted the end product to work and flow as a stage,” says Klassen. “The builders, painters and dressers referred back to the diorama model as a reference for how the stage needed to look and it was extremely helpful. As a focal point, it pulled the team together and was a wonderfully practical guide. We all had one goal, and by using that small diorama, I think it made our efforts very uniform, systematic and efficient while still keeping everyone’s creative input separate.

Custom video content as well as the lighting and special effects were added during pre-production as well. The entire show was run live, without any timecode involved. “There is no better feeling than when, in the middle of a show, you press that one button and it gets that huge crowd response,” says Klassen.

Rythm EFX has three full-time builders as part of its in-house staff working under the direction of lead scenic manager Sam Cranshaw. “We have a great team in them, and they create wonderful foam sculptures,” says Klassen. “We love getting strange, crazy or huge requests that seem too big to handle at first. We have built some bizarre requests in our time as a business, and it is always a blast to figure them out. Each person in the company really has a strong suit and is incredibly creative. For Brondo, though the combination of a short timeline and amount of foaming that needed to be done proved a bit overwhelming at times.”

Klassen believes the Brondo Bass Jungle project best represents what Rythm EFX is all about, because for the event the company was in total charge of all things visual. They are a company driven by creativity that strives to provide their clients a unique experience and are driven by creativity whether it is building a huge set like Brondo, video production, special effects or full production. “We are not your typical production company,” he says.

Platinum beams and lasers in action

DJ Brondo’s Bass Jungle

Summit Music Hall, Denver CO, May 11, 2019

Crew

  • Designer: Zack Klassen, Kayzha Shepard
  • Set Builders: Sam Cranshaw, Josh Williams, Justin Bashor, Cameron Navarrete
  • Set Dressers: Kayzha Shepard, Yvette Henry
  • Scenic Painter: Michael Gorgan
  • Lighting Designer: Zack Klassen
  • VJ: Cameron Navarrete
  • Special Effects: Josh Williams, Yvette Henry

Gear

  • 1       Chamsys MagicQ 100 console + wing
  • 8       Elation Platinum Beam 5R fixtures
  • 24     Martin MAC 101 fixtures
  • 50     Oracle Black Widow HD-9 Panels
  • 4       Sigma CO2 Jets
  • 4       Sigma 3” Confetti Gerbs
  • 3       3W ProX/Kvant lasers

For more information on Rythm EFX, go to www.rythmefx.com.

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