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A$AP Rocky “Injured Generation” Tour

Mike Wharton • March 2019Wide Focus • March 7, 2019

A$AP Rocky photos by Gabe Shaddow

A Tale of Hope Amid Chaos in Three Acts

he A$AP Rocky “Injured Generation” tour, which ran in January and February at venues in the U.S. and Canada, presented the member of the A$AP Mob hip hop collective in a vivid show that might be summed up as “controlled chaos.”

The shows took the audiences through a series of peaks and valleys, from mosh pits to ballads, with A$AP Rocky’s performances accompanied by automated staging, pyro, lighting and on-the-fly video imagery, all inspired, the artist says, by fans who have gotten hurt at previous shows.

The “Injured Generation” show is no cautionary tale; instead, it’s an instruction manual for how to party through the pain and, in a broader sense, A$AP Rocky’s operatic message is one of hope amidst these chaotic times.

And chaos did indeed reign on his stage each night in a well executed production that combined a timecode-triggered lighting design and a pandemonium of live executed video visuals. All that accompanied the artist as he performed on top of, inside and around three cars that rose high above the stage.

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A$AP Rocky tour photo by Gabe Shaddow

Cars Take Flight

The flying cars served as the centerpiece of the set design that show designer Jed Skrzypczak submitted to Rocky, along with imagery from car testing facilities, and Skrzypczak says the car concept was what sold the artist on using this design.

A$AP Rocky and Skrzypczak then spent close to six months refining that set design in the pursuit of a show that would be “mind blowing and completely different from anything else on the road,” Skrzypczak says. “Rocky and I wanted an overall industrial look to the show as well,” Skrzypczak adds — which ties in with the theme of his May 2018 album release, Testing.

The set design includes bright yellow scissor lifts positioned offstage left and right. They are lit underneath and from the platform itself by Elation Arena Par Zooms and Martin MAC Vipers supplied by Upstaging out of Chicago.

A$AP Rockey tour photos by Gabe Shaddow

Gallagher Staging retrofitted an actual vintage BMW, Mercedes Benz and Porsche so they could be safely flown as both performance space and set pieces, with automated movements finessed with a Tait Navigator system.

Skrzypczak leveraged his extensive experience in theater as the show concept took shape, and that theatrical background also influenced the flow of the show — “so much that the show is literally performed in three acts,” he says.

Skrzypczak adds that the featured artist not only articulated the vision for the show as a whole, but also followed through with the details, directing each aspect of the production.

“Rocky is very involved in directing the production team in rehearsals,” and once the tour hit the road, Skrzypczak adds, Rocky also got involved in “what he wants his audience to see and feel,” using interactive signage, video imagery and voice and sound along with the “B” stage to get closer to and engage with his fans.

As such, Skrzypczak worked closely with video director Chase O’Black, lighting designer Michael Mauro and A$AP Rocky himself to collaborate on the show design. Mauro, the lead designer with M99 Studios, had previously collaborated with O’Black for other artists. For this production, Mauro designed the timecode and Notch effects for video. “My goal was to make it look as big as possible,” says Mauro.

O’Black, meanwhile, had already been operating video for Rocky since 2016. “I’m lucky enough to have known all these songs for several years,” he states, “So for me, it’s about placing content.”

Upstaging provided a wide variety of fixtures.

Controlled Chaos

Skrzypczak notes that one of A$AP Rocky’s directives for the shows was to aspire to “that transcendental spontaneity present at a Grateful Dead concert,” and adds that “he never wants to do the same show twice.”

To help achieve that goal, O’Black runs a hands-on live video show. He has a stack of clips that he can call up for each of the songs, allowing him to mix effects, templates and live camera feeds.

Kevin Williams from Screenworks, which provided all the video elements for the tour, serves as the video engineer. For I-Mag, the show uses a jib, a robocam, a truss cam, one camera at FOH and two hand held pit cams. Two wireless GoPro “mosh” cameras on helmets also come into play when Rocky’s performers jump into the crowd.

Michael Mauro designed the lighting

As video director, O’Black receives two separate program feeds from video engineer Williams. One signal runs through Notch, the other comes in untreated. “Kevin chooses what goes on each camera,” says O’ Black, “My job is to blend all that into a show.”

Skrzypczak also credits Victor Reed Sr., noting how the veteran tour and production manager came aboard barely a month before it hit the road. “He did an amazing job, making sure Rocky and my vision stayed intact and molding it into a tour-friendly production.”

The staged chaos is a metaphor for the inspiration Rocky received upon learning how a fan of his, who suffered a tragic accident and lost his legs after a listening party, not only survived but prospered. That is the artist’s underlying message of the whole show — no matter how bad things might seem at any given moment, there is always hope.

The video images were punted nightly

A$AP Rocky “Injured Generation” Tour

Video played into the car theme

Crew

  • Show Designer: Jed Skrzypczak
  • Lighting Designer: Michael Mauro
  • Tour Manager: Victor Reed Sr.
  • Video Director: Chase O’Black
  • Video Engineer: Kevin Williams
  • Lighting Co: Upstaging
  • Video Co: Screenworks
  • Automation: Tait
  • Staging: Gallagher Staging

Shining the high beams. Photos by Gabe Shaddow

Gear

  • 2       grandMA2 Full consoles
  • 29     Martin MAC Viper Profiles
  • 6       Martin Viper Wash DX
  • 32     Claypaky Mythos 2
  • 35     Robe Spiiders
  • 34     Solaris Flares
  • 20     Martin Atomic 3000 LED strobes
  • 32     Chauvet Professional Strike 4’s
  • 64     Upstaging Kabuki Solenoids
  • 6       DF-50 DMX Hazers
  • 8       FQ-100 Foggers
  • 28     8’ HUD Truss (Black)
  • 14     10’ HUD Truss (Black)
  • 43     1-ton chain hoists
  • 17     ½-ton chain hoists

Photos by Gabe Shaddow

 

 

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