Known for their electrifying shows, Queens of the Stone Age toured Australia in support of their latest album, Villains, bringing with them a blistering, eye searing lightshow that pushed the boundaries of conformity.
The lighting design was created by Emmanuelle “Gigi” Pedron, an enthusiastic French lady who now calls Los Angeles home. Her background in photography and her love of the arts is highly evident in her work.
Her lighting design portfolio includes Jack White, Ryan Adams, Tegan & Sara and Jimmy Eat World but having been an avid fan of QOTSA for years, they were top of her ‘to light’ list. So remember, dreams can come true.
It is probably because Gigi began her career as a live-music-loving art student who never had any ‘proper’ training, that her lighting is so unique and in this world of time-coded perfection, very refreshing.
“From day one I have always just been behind a console starting with ska / punk rock band in my French home town when I was eighteen years old,” she commented. “When I design and operate a show, doing the lights has never been about plugging, patching and focusing. In my head, I want certain shapes and colour at different times in the songs, I don’t care how it’s achieved I just want it. Having said that, I don’t always have my team with me and I can set up my own rig, I’m just very messy at it.”
Before Gigi was hired to work with QOTSA, they had LeRoy Bennett design a ‘mood board’ for the show and he came up with the idea of GLP X4 Bars on poles as side lights.
“The band decided they liked the idea of vertical lines so I kept that and scratched everything else to start my own design,” she explained. “It took a couple of weeks to get it how I wanted as I went on tour with them as soon as I got the job.”
Gigi’s lighting is inspired by artists such as James Turrell, and is quite brutal with sharp angles. It is intense and mostly monochromatic with each song dominated by one colour.
The stage set up in Australia was smaller than in the US and Europe, mainly missing a pod system, with four trusses holding asymmetrically rigged Claypaky B-EYE K20s follow where the band position is onstage, with lines of GLP X4 Bar 20’s across the trusses, floor and back.
“I have 70 GLP X4 Bar 20s to create lines and frames all over the stage,” said Gigi. “They deliver a solid wall of light which I really like and they have great colour mixing. They contrast well with the B-EYEs which are round and beamy. The X4 Bar 20’s are really sharp, like a guillotine, and I like that!”
Whilst the B-EYEs and X4 Bars were Gigi’s main fixtures, she also had 30 Martin MAC Quantum Profiles which she described as a great, small, light and bright fixture. These were complimented by 10 MAC Quantum Wash, and 10 RUSH MH10 Beam FX (one on top of each tower) making an all LED rig.
“I needed a blasting strobe too so I went with 12 TMB Solaris Flares as they’re so bright, solid and reliable,” Gigi added.
Unique to the stage are the custom, interactive LED poles which the band punch and kick throughout the show adding a fresh element of moving light as they bounce back into place. Built by Upstaging, they are lined with LED tape with the poles attached to a spring which, in turn, is mounted to a 27 kilo base.
“They like to play with things so we made lights they could play with and hopefully they’ll leave the other gear alone!” commented Gigi.
Out front Gigi has a very unique MA Lighting grandMA2 console highly customized with tape and Marvel images.
“I’ve been customizing my console for a long time now,” added Gigi. “I change the theme and colour according to the tour design. It’s E-Tape art.”
The first console Gigi ever operated was an MA Lighting Lightcommander 24/48 and she has faithfully stayed with the MA platform ever since.
“I’ve used them all, from Scancommander to the latest grandMA2 running the most recent software versions and very soon I hope to utilize the grandMA3!” she commented. “I like to operate the MA2 as if it’s a keyboard with a fader per effect. The band like that I ‘play’ along with the music.”
Time code is a dirty word on this tour with Gigi stating that she would never, ever use it with such a powerful, live rock band.
“My programming is so messy I’m the only one who knows what’s happening and I’m the only one who can operate the show!” she laughed. “I change it every day anyway because the band perform differently from day to day and every venue is unique. There are no cues per se, it’s just me and the band doing what we do best, so each show is different for every audience. We do have a set list but they rarely follow it. They have a large catalogue of songs to draw from so they do whatever they want!”
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine October 2018.
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