Lighting designer Emmanuelle “Gigi” Pedron has taken Elation Professional’s broadcast market KL Panel XL IP™ LED soft light and transformed it into a high-impact, aesthetic rock ‘n’ roll light for Queens of the Stone Age’s “The End Is Nero” tour. After playing European festivals throughout much of the summer, the band launched their North American leg August 3rd in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
“I wanted to do a color field type show in the style of an abstract painting, minimalistic in form with a sense of open space,” Pedron explains of her design. “I want people to see what I see in my head when I hear the music—like Chromesthesia—and I needed a light that could express that with color.”
Pedron says the idea behind using the KL Panel XLs on the tour came about during the pandemic when the designer was working in TV and film. “You see special types of fixtures for TV and special types for touring and usually those universes don’t mix,” says the California-based designer who has been a touring LD now for 25 years. “I noticed on a TV or film shoot that light panels were really underutilized; the white correction and intensity were used but not much else. I thought, what if I could use those on a rock show but really use their full features and color ability. And instead of just using 10, what if I used 70 of them to light a rock stage, what would that look like?”
Eight lights in one
Pedron’s curiosity led her to the Elation headquarters in Los Angeles earlier in the year, where she saw a demo of the KL Panel XL. “I liked what I saw and brought a unit back to my office and just thought it was fantastic,” she said. “It’s a great light. Actually, it’s not just one light, it’s eight different lights. One panel has eight different segments and because the show has 68 KL Panels in the rig it’s actually like having 544 different lighting fixtures. That’s how I treat it. I couldn’t wait to see how grandiose it looked on stage.”
Pedron has been with the band since 2016 and is a big QOTSA fan from way back, so she has known the band’s music “since day one.” Her design for “The End Is Nero” centers the attention on the performers with no video, no pyro, no confetti, balloons or dancers – “no distractions” as she puts it. “It’s all about the visual art while keeping the focus on the band.”
The main form of the setup is a pyramid, a type of stage within a stage that captures the audience’s attention while serving as the focal point beneath which all the action unfolds. The KL Panels are located in every dimension of the setup and used dynamically for intensity, vibrant color and keylighting. They are suspended on the downstage truss, forming a first layer of a multi-layer look, and also function as pivotal keylight sources from side positions. They front the stage, are positioned beneath a diamond-shaped riser and are also positioned behind and above the band, completing the immersive visual experience.
“It gives the set a bit of a TV studio vibe without really being treated that way,” the designer says, noting that 90% of the lighting on the show is static. “Usually a rock show is all about directional lighting but this is something different – nondirectional, soft light but still very bright and impressive.”
For Pedron, who is a specialist in the use of saturated colors, color mixing was extremely important and the KL Panel’s RGBW +Lime + Cyan LED array covers the full spectrum. “I believe that color itself can convey a deep emotional experience,” she says, “and since my idea was to create a color field for this show, for a color freak like me, the KL Panels are just perfect. They mix really well and I really like the Lime emitter. It gives me a proper white but also a nice acid green,” a color she says doesn’t really exist in the natural world but appears several times during the show.
KL Panel XL
The KL Panel XL, which outputs a blistering 40,000 lumens, features multi-zone control which the designer takes advantage of for a mesmerizing array of eye candy looks, for example in a song where she cuts the stage in two and keeps the middle panels in blue and orange. The song “Better Living Through Chemistry” contains another of her favorite cues with the KL Panels. She explains, “There I change between green and red really fast and it goes on for two minutes at full brightness with just the color change. It creates an optical effect and provokes a transcendent sensation and by the end you don’t know what color you’re looking at. You don’t know what’s happening, if you are inside or outside, you’re just hypnotized. It’s a bit brutal but it works very well with the KL Panels.” Pedron also says the fixture is great as an audience blinder on the front truss, “a nice change from using a typical 8-lite.”
The rig incorporates other lighting as well including 49 Elation Smarty MAX™ hybrid moving heads chosen for their speed and impressive beam characteristics. The Smarty’s work with the KL Panels, along with pixel strips, from the same positions. Within each layer of the 45-degree forced perspective approach which the designer uses to achieve a captivating pyramid effect is a combination of these three types of lighting fixtures.
Pedron handled lighting programming and also operates the show on tour, which she says keeps her on her toes as the show is different every night and changes are made on the go. Lighting supply for the tour in both Europe and North America is by Christie Lites. “They have similar inventory on both sides of the ocean and since Queens of the Stone Age play worldwide, it’s great to have that consistency and know that we’ll have the same fixtures wherever we play,” she said.
“The End Is Nero” tour plays North American dates through mid-October then it’s back across the pond in November for more European dates. “It’s been a blast and I’m lucky to get to tour with such a great band,” Pedron concludes.
Lighting Designer/Director/Programmer/Operator: Emmanuelle Gigi Pedron
Lighting Crew Chief: Gary Rees
Electrician: Simon Howarth
Lighting Tech: Shawn Organ
Head Rigger: Gianluca Ganapini
Carpenter: Michael Coules
Production Manager: Rob Highcroft
Photos: Will Stockwell