Pretty Lights, Primus in Production, Plenty of People News

by Debi Moen
in Designer Watch
Pretty Lights 2017 tour. Photo by Greg Ellis
Pretty Lights 2017 tour. Photo by Greg Ellis

Lighting designer Greg Ellis, out with Pretty Lights, says a lot has changed in the band’s live show on this tour. While he’s simplified the lighting a bit from past designs, he has expanded the visual production “way beyond anything we’ve ever done before,” he observes. “I am currently running all aspects of the show including one of the most advanced laser shows out there. Also, I’ve got live analog video synthesis along with live camera feeds and a custom built touch designer server.” The U.S. tour started in early August.

‡‡         Primus and The Neighbourhood in Production

LD Graham Rolak is in the midst on a new design for Primus’ new tour, which starts in October. Rolak explains, “Primus are releasing a new concept album soon built around a children’s book, The Rainbow Goblins, which will heavily influence the stage design. I am taking a heavy theatrical attitude toward the design including set pieces and some transformative elements, which will create the story line for the entire ‘evening with’ tour.” Rolak will also tour with it as lighting director.

Rolak is also involved with The Neighbourhood (a.k.a. Nbhd), a rock band from Newbury Park, CA. The Nbhd is on the cusp of releasing a lot of new content including a new album.

“I will heading out on some small runs this year with them, building toward some larger tours for 2018 and 2019. I’m just starting to get new designs set up for flow with the new material and rollout schedule,” he explains. “Slimming down the band’s footprint on stage, we will be losing a lot on stage backline equipment, going for an emptier, cleaner stage and moving in a more alt-pop direction.”

‡‡         Death in the Family

Linkin Park LD Céline Royer was two days away from the North American tour leg when the band’s frontman, Chester Bennington, took his own life. “It definitely was a shock for the whole camp,” she says. And with the quick tour cancellation, she adds, “Linkin Park was all about family spirit, so we are all missing each other.” (See “1000 Words,” page 60, for more).

She has now moved on as LD with Incubus’ tour. However, in mid-September, she will hand the operating reins to LD Graham Rolak to cover for her on the South American tour while she runs a show for Jennifer Lopez in Las Vegas.

‡‡         Quick Cues

Martina McBride is touring festivals and fairs with a pixel-mapped rig. Photo by Andre Huff

LD Andre Huff recently headed out with a completely pixel mapped rig for summer/fall fairs and festivals for Martina McBride. “It was specifically designed to be modular and flexible for the many different situations we would be facing this summer,” Huff says.

Paul “Arlo” Guthrie designed Buckingham McVie, the touring duo of Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie. Chris Lose is out as lighting director. The North American tour started in June and runs to Nov. 16, performing original music penned for their new album, while weaving in some FMac favorites. Guthrie also designed Nine Inch Nails’ summer festival shows.

Myles Mangino is the middle of the Pixies’ 2017 tour, telling us he’s celebrating his 32nd year as their LD. The tour runs to Dec. 10 in the U.S. and Canada.

LD Eric Cathcart has designed the production for country artist Dallas Smith’s trans-Canadian tour, Oct. 12-mid November. Westley Palmer is helping Cathcart program and will tour as lighting director.

LD Chris Pekar started up again with Die Antwoord, a South African hip hop group, on their 2017 world tour. They’ve already spent a month run in Europe, and recently hit the U.S./Canada leg.

LD Matthew Greer is working with both Lord Huron and The Head And The Heart on their separate tours.

LD Ed Warren had a special Father’s Day, welcoming a new baby daughter four months ago, and that’s not the only thing keeping him busy this summer. He’s back designing Mumford & Sons’ summer festival shows as well as shows for U.K. bands Metronomy, Circa Waves, The Horrors and The Kooks (and their new video, Broken Vow).

LD Carl Burnett has spent the summer touring with Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, which returns to the U.S. in September-October.

Dara Guiney says he’s in Europe with Band of Horses for a month, filling in for their usual LD Ben Marx. “Lots of festivals and good times,” he says. LD Hal Deiter is, in turn, covering Ben Harper shows for Dara while he’s away.

Every now and then, Designer Watch is asked about the whereabouts of former PLSN editor Justin Lang. Lang tells us he is freelancing in the world as lighting director and programmer around the country and near his home base in Washington, DC. “It’s great to be back in the heart of production, making people and things look good,” he says.

‡‡         Creative Arts Emmy Awards

The Television Academy’s 69th Emmy Awards take place Sunday, Sept. 17 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, airing live on CBS. Many of our industry’s lighting and production professionals nominated will receive their awards Sept. 16 in The Creative Arts Emmy Awards, honoring outstanding artistic and technical achievement. Too many to list here, all nominations can be viewed at emmys.com/downloads. Good luck and congratulations!

Keep Debi posted with your late summer/early fall gigs and projects. Reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..