In Australia to headline Splendour in the Grass, Childish Gambino played a handful of arena shows for those not lucky enough to get to Byron Bay. Cory Fitzgerald was the Creative Producer and lighting design was by Sarah Landau.

The show featured little in the way of video except for the six rolling floor pods which were custom made by the lighting supplier Chameleon Touring Systems as there was no time to ship the originals over. These pods each contained six Claypaky Mythos, two TMB Solaris Flares, two lasers and a fog machine on one side and on the other, wrapping around the structure a little, there was video covered in smoked Plexiglass to create a different surface to regular video screens.

“The video content we do use on the platforms is minimal,” added Sarah. “Plus it’s more about highlighting the structure of these moving pieces more so the actual content on the screen. In festivals we utilize the full upstage video wall and have content running on that but for arena shows, the artist prefers a more open and stripped back look. In Sydney, we didn’t even have a black backdrop to hide the seats behind the stage.”

Above the stage, staggered down to the upstage, were four trusses, each holding nine x Robe MegaPointes, four x Martin MAC Viper Performances and 12 x GLP JDC-1 strobes. Together they formed a stunning back wall of lighting with Sarah remarking that the MegaPoints are her new favourite fixture.

“I always preferred the Pointe over the Sharpy because of the prism and I liked the colour wheel colours,” she said. “Now with the MegaPointe, there’s colour mixing, the beam is that much brighter and the optics that much better, so it’s really a spot/profile fixture and a beam fixture in one.”

Sarah commented that the MAC Viper Performances were an adequate stand in for the specified BMFL Blades, adding that the gobos in both the Performances and Blades have the nicer organic options and animation wheels, compared to the profile and spot versions from the same manufacturers. As for the JDC-1s, she says they are the best strobe on the market.

“The JDC-1s carry a lot of the more rhythmic and percussive hits and pops in the programming, then we run them in the 68-channel mode with every pixel individually controlled to get some really organic effects and make them look less like bricks of light,” Sarah elaborated.

Four short side trusses were added to the Australian design to help light the band who were on risers that were significantly shorter than the rolling video pods so were often difficult to see. However there were a couple of sections in the show where the pods swept to the side to allow a good view of the band.

These downstage side trusses were great for side lighting the dancers that performed at the front of the stage. Each truss held three x MAC Viper Wash DX plus the two downstage side trusses also had a Robe RoboSpot on each to side and back spotlight.

The thrust was lined by GLP impression X4 Bar 20s with Sarah saying they are great for side lighting the artist who spent 90% of his time on the thrust, as well as the lift. The X4 Bars played an important role providing colour and light around him as well as eye candy. A handful of X4 Bar 10s constructed a circle of light on the lift.

Three trusses out front also held MegaPointes, MAC Viper Performances and GLP JDC-1 strobes, as well as two more RoboSpots, to deliver a cohesive look. There were no followspots out front in the house and Sarah says the RoboSpots changed her life for sure.

“The RoboSpots are great; they’re fast, the colour mixing is beautiful, they’re super easy to balance for colour temperature with the separate CTO wheel and they are simple to set up,” she said. “I take control over everything except intensity and iris which is left to the operator. I can override effects and make them strobe or do dimmer chases on top of what the operators are doing. Obviously I can set a master level that is the correct brightness for camera from the console and I just need to worry about telling an operator when to fade up or down. I really like that I can set the exact colour that I need rather than relying on specifying gels, using substitutes, calling frame numbers and so on.”

Integrated into the lighting rig were many laser positions, with the laser show designed to look good wherever you are in the arena. Spreading out those termination points to give it different layers is key to why it looks so cool. The laser show was designed by Marco Posevic with Genius Laser Technology providing 18 of their GENLAS 30W lasers to the tour.

The light show was programmed on an MA Lighting grandMA2 by Davey Martinez with Sarah commenting that he was instrumental to the whole process and great to work alongside.

“I can describe something in vague sounds and hand waves and he gets it!” she laughed.

The show used copious amounts of smoke with Sarah revealing that Childish has never once complained about there being too much smoke - in fact he encourages it.

“So we really went for it!” she said “We had plenty of smoke and haze from Look Solutions Unique 2.1 under the risers and in the pods, JEM ZR44s and DF50s. You can never have too much smoke when lasers are involved!”

An important element is the live video that showcases the intricacies of Childish's performance which was directed by Damien Gravois. Live Show Director Danny Purdue called all the cues, and programmed/ran the media servers.

“The Chameleon lighting team, headed by Graham Walker, was excellent,” added Sarah.

Photos: Troy Constable

This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine Sept 2019.
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