On Saturday, November 14, metalcore band August Burns Red celebrated 15 years since release of their debut studio album ‘Thrill Seeker’ with a special livestream performance of the full recording at Rock Lititz Studio near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lighting designer David Summers turned to the wide effects options in Elation’s small yet mighty DARTZ 360™ narrow-beam mover to light the event. New York-based rental company Squeek Lights supplied the fixtures.
August Burns Red is a Grammy-nominated metal band that has shown over the years that aggressive metalcore music and positive messaging can indeed coexist. Though filled with heavy guitar riffs and howling vocals, the band avoids the doom and gloom of many metal bands and instead urges listeners to better themselves and the world around them.
Following two days of rehearsals at the Squeek Lights shop, production moved to the Rock Lititz Studio and its state-of-the-art facilities, custom fit for touring professionals. Not only did Summers have to familiarize himself with an album that is 15 years old (he’s worked with the band for three years), he had to design for a multi-camera shoot rather than the more familiar live audience.
“There were five or six cameras plus a few GoPro’s so there were multiple shot angles to consider,” he states. “It’s very different doing it for cameras instead of a live audience. Many of the looks you are used to making for a live audience don’t translate well on camera. On a livestream, if not every light is aimed towards the camera then you’re going to miss most of the effects. I practiced with new lighting positions and ended up with positions I wouldn’t normally use on a touring show. It was a different approach but it turned out great.”
Summers placed 20 DARTZ 360 fixtures outrigged on 10 pipes on the ground, forming a semi-circle around the band. Fixtures worked from the top and bottom of each pipe, its 3-degree aperture forming an array of thin beams high and low for classic ACL looks. Summers comments: “The DARTZ were the meat and potatoes and really the star of the show. As a programmer, when you get to the 12th or 15th song, you’ve generally had the light do everything possible, but with the DARTZ you have a handful of other tricks you can use that most lights don’t have so it makes programming a bunch of songs so much easier.”
The LD points to the fixture’s continuous 360° pan and tilt rotation as an ideal feature for an aggressive band like August Burns Red. “I can put 10 fixtures in an infinite pan to make a wide encompassing circle and then I’ll put the other 10 in a different staggered position with an infinite tilt. It’s a simple trick but that look alone is something that not many other fixtures can create.”
The designer dug into the fixture’s feature set to access other effects. Although he’s not usually one to incorporate much gobo shaking in his designs, he found the gobo shake with the DARTZ “satisfying,” an effect he used frequently during down-tempo moments, “even with the frost thrown in and focus zoomed all the way out.” He created another unique look by dropping in a small gobo to produce multiple “needle beams” that look like a spider web. “The DARTZ allows me to get those more intricate looks so you don’t feel like you’re looking at the same light for 15 songs. To have a fixture that is that dynamic and at that price point is incredible. I rented one set of lights but it looked like I had rented two!”
When it comes to color pallette, Summers says he is basically given carte blanche by the band but does get occasional input from guitarist JB Brubaker on visuals. “The DARTZ’s color mixing can create such unique colors like mint, a light lavender, a light amber. The color control is great. I can create different shades that I mix to make looks unique so I don’t have to repeat the same color combo on any song.” He adds that he incorporated ADJ Hex Panels as dedicated drum lights for drummer Matt Greiner, saying that anyone deep in the stage can get buried, like a drummer, especially on a livestream.
Like many in our industry, Summers has had little work on his plate since last March and says he has taken the downtime to reset mentally after years of being on the road. “It’s been an opportunity to be home and really be present after working at full speed for many years.” Still, he was glad to be working again. “Working the livestream show made me very hungry to get back to it. Every day was a 16 or 18-hour day and I loved it!” Summers expresses his gratitude to Squeek Lights, who he says executed brilliantly on the project, especially lighting tech Steve Kosiba who did all the backend programming for the event.
The “Thrill Seeker” Anniversary Livestream sold so well it has prompted the band to hold a “Christmas Burns Red” livestream on December 12, a show that Summers promises will be even bigger. Tickets are only $15 and can be purchased here.