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Queens of the Stone Age “Villains” Tour

by Steve Jennings (Photos and Text) • in
  • April 2018
  • Wide Angle
• Created: April 12, 2018

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Solaris Flares light the audience. Queens of the Stone Age photo by Steve Jennings

Queens of the Stone Age are touring in support of their newest album release, Villains, bringing high energy to the stage in a lighting design that is also programmed and directed by Emmanuelle “Gigi” Pedron, who has also crafted looks for Jack White, Ryan Adams and At The Drive-In.

Gigi Pedron took Leroy Bennett’s concept and made it her own. Queens of the Stone Age tour photo by Steve Jennings

Before Pedron joined the tour to design, the band had asked designer LeRoy Bennett about concepts, and he came back with a plot containing GLP X4 Bars on poles as side lights. The band liked that idea very much.

When Pedron was brought in for the design, she was told — and she quotes — to “f**k it up [and] make it mine.” So she came on as designer, programmer and director.

“It’s a work in progress, too. There’s not a leg of the tour that’s the same as the one before it. It is very convenient and safe to keep the same design over the months, but the band and myself like the challenges, the changes, the evolution and freshness night-to-night. It’s the edginess that make Queens of the Stone Age one of the biggest rock bands in the world, and we want to keep that… our tour is called Villains, after all.”

Upstaging’s Sabers adorn the stage. Queens of the Stone Age tour photo by Steve Jennings

After a few weeks of the tour, Pedron decided to add GLP X4 Bars on the floor, on the back behind the band and on trusses. “It’s a great fixture for color freaks like me, with a beautiful and flawless color mix and great velocity. The band wanted danger on stage — they wanted unusual placements, obstructions, interaction. After a few of my X4 Bars broke because of being thrown on the floor, we quickly reached out, and Upstaging were able to come up with a solution — custom-made LED strips on a spring. It looks simple, but a lot of engineering was involved in it. The band can now play with the lights, lean on them, drag them across the stage as they please.”

The Sabers are spring-loaded. Queens of the Stone Age tour photo by Steve Jennings

‡‡         Sabers on Springs

Upstaging has been looking after the lighting for the Queens for several years. When called upon to design something that would allow band leader Josh to shove lights in any direction and have them re-erect themselves, they came up with the ideal solution. They built custom poles and lined them with their own Saber light fixtures, a dual row of LEDs lining a strip of metal in 10mm increments, like video LEDs. They attached these poles to a spring which, in turn, is mounted to a 60-pound horseshoe base. (See image at left.)

LED fixtures make up the majority of the rig. Queens of the Stone Age tour photo by Steve Jennings

The Queens tend to tour all over the world with little two week runs mixed in with festival performances and one off events. For the band’s recent West Coast shows in the U.S., they obtained the overhead touring system from VER, due to the locality of these shows. The Upstaging spring units fly to every gig.

Budget is always a fight, notes Pedron — but she tries to not let that affect her designs. “‘Less is more’ is as true now as it ever was. I have multiple small fixtures on my rig. The Magic Dots are the tiniest, brightest, fastest lights I’ve ever seen. Ayrton is releasing LED products every year that are top notch quality. I also have Solaris Flares… they’re so bright, solid and reliable.

“During our European tour, I’ve achieved one of my biggest lighting fantasies by having a full LED rig,” Pedron adds. “I had the Quantum Spot from Martin Lighting and I really, really loved it. Talk about a great, small, light and bright fixture.”

Martin MAC Vipers silhouette the stage. Queens of the Stone Age tour photo by Steve Jennings

‡‡         Timecode…NOT

There is no timecode on the show — “No way, not now, not ever… everything is live and I like to change it up every day depending on my mood and the venue. There are no cues per se, it’s just me and the band having a blast! It’s art in vivo, a live canvas, and the result is different for every audience.”

Pedron says that Queens of The Stone Age is one of her all-time favorite bands. She knew every song, their back catalog and side projects, way before joining the tour. So in that respect, programming was a piece of cake, and if the band want to change the set list mid-show, it’s not even a problem for her. “I mostly punt it like I’ve been doing it for the past 18 years since I first started behind a console.”

Speaking of, Pedron says the grandMA console is her favorite. She first started lighting with an MA Lighting Lightcommander 24/48 eighteen years ago, then moved to the Scancommander and then to the MA1, then MA2… and soon to the MA3, which MA Lighting will feature at Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt this month.

“I have a great relationship with MA Lighting and would never change my console,” she says. “It is the industry standard for a reason! Every single user can configure the console and use it as they please, what a fantastic tool. It’s also is a very fun console to customize as I like to change the color of my console accordingly to the tour I’m lighting.”

Queens of the Stone Age Villains Tour

Crew

LD, Lighting Director & Programmer: Emmanuelle “Gigi” Pedron

Pre-Tour Lighting Concepts: LeRoy Bennett

Lighting Cos (U.S.): VER, Upstaging

Lighting Crew Chief: Colin Craig

Lighting Techs: Matt Bulter, Matt Partch

Tour Managers: Alexis Lower. Kevin Carter

Production Manager: Rob Highcroft

Stage Manager: Jack Dunnett

Custom LED: Upstaging

Staging: All Access

 

Gear

1               grandMA2 console

64            GLP X4 Bar20’s

40            Claypaky B-EYEs

19            Martin MAC Vipers

14            Elation Cuepix WW2’s

10            Ayrton MagicDot-R’s

12            Solaris Flare LED strobes

 

More Queens of the Stone Age tour photos by Steve Jennings:

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