Both performance stages at this year’s Black Joy Parade celebration in California were illuminated primarily by ADJ fixtures, alongside a handful of additional units from sister company Elation Professional.
IP65-rated fixtures were chosen by Islay Events for this event, which took place in the heart of downtown Oakland, CA. 18P HEX IP LED Pars illuminated the performers on stage, while Hydro Beam X2 moving heads created piercing beam effects that shot out from the stage over the heads of the huge crowd. The mainstage rig was controlled from an ADJ LINK, while the PA system for the second stage utilised the Imperio mini line array system from ADJ’s Avante Audio brand.
The Black Joy Parade is a celebration of the black community’s influence on cultures past, present and future. This year it involved a parade that started at 13th Street in downtown Oakland just after noon and made its way down Broadway to a four block ‘Celebration Site’ around 20th and 21st Street that was filled with vendors, attractions and two performance stages. The roads of the site were closed for the day and the party ran throughout the afternoon up until the 7pm finishing time. Across the Main Stage and Diaspora Community stage, a continuous lineup of DJs and performers entertained huge crowds, building up to a headline performance from RnB singer Ashanti.
Technical production for both stages was the responsibility of Islay Events, a full-service event planning and production company based in Buellton, CA. The company, headed by industry veteran Jeremy Cable, also took care of production for the last Black Joy Parade event in 2020, which took place just weeks before the global pandemic brought the events industry to a grinding halt.
The parade wasn’t able to run in 2021, but Cable and his team were invited back for this year’s event based on the professional service they provided to the organisers back in 2020. Islay Events’ in-house Lighting Designer, Lazer Freidman, was responsible for the design, programming and running of the main stage rig, which had scaled up production for this year’s show due to the calibre of the headline artist.
The main stage rig’s staple fixture was ADJ’s 18P HEX IP, which is a robust IP65-rated LED par featuring 18 potent 12W six-in-one RGBWA+UV colour mixing LEDs. A total of 20 of these units were deployed, serving double duty as both stage washes and audience blinders. Six fixtures were rigged to an upstage Global Truss F34 truss and six more were hung on a similar downstage truss, which together provided an even wash coverage for the stage. In addition, eight fixtures were positioned on upright trusses at either side of the stage, four per side, to bathe the crowd in vibrant swathes of colour. Finally, six more of the fixtures were also used to wash the smaller second stage, running from an Elation Professional SDC12 compact DMX controller.
“The 18P HEX IP is perfect for large stages and outdoor use,” commented Lazer. “They are rock solid units; we’ve had them outdoors for a month straight, they’ve been kicked, had drinks spilt on them, and come back covered in dust and dirt. I clean them up in the shop using compressed air and they’re as good as new! Operationally, the colour mixing is really good and the output is awesome. When we did this event in 2020, we used twice the number of fixtures to wash the stage, but we found it was overkill. They have a nice beam angle and are extremely bright, so the 12 fixtures we had up on the overhead rig this time were plenty sufficient to get a nice even coverage of the stage.”
Alongside the wash fixtures, eight of ADJ’s IP65-rated Hydro Beam X2 moving heads were also utilised for the main stage lighting rig. Four of these luminaires were hung, one at either side of the front truss and another pair in a similar configuration on the rear truss. The remaining four units were positioned on road cases running across the back of the stage.
“The Hydro Beam X2 is as bright as hell!” stated Lazer. “It’s pretty epic, you could see the beams in the sky from literally miles away. Once it started to get darker towards the evening, I started to use the GOBOs and prisms to create some really nice effects in the air and out into the crowd. It is definitely a beam, not a spot, so the beam angle is very narrow. However, on a big rig like this, the flown fixtures were far enough away that I was able to use them to get that spot kind of effect in the middle of the stage for the headline performance.”
Completing the main stage lighting rig, the Islay Events team also utilised eight of Elation Professional’s ELED Strip 50 RGB LED batten fixtures, which – despite long since being discontinued – are still going strong. These were placed in a line across the front of the stage to provide eye candy effects that completed the framing of the performance space with lights on all sides. Two ADJ Fog Fury Jett Pro LED-lit vertical fog machines were also put to use on the production. During the warm-up acts they were placed on their side for use as conventional smoke machines to shoot beam-enhancing fog across the stage. Then, for Ashanti’s set, they were flipped on their sides and positioned in the middle of the stage to create intense columns of fog to add impact to the headline performance.
To control the main stage rig, Lazer used the ADJ LINK. This unique hardware/software system combines the wireless connectivity, processing power, and multi touch screen of an iPad with lighting-specific tactile controls and a four universe DMX interface to deliver a unique control solution. Powerful and user-friendly, the LINK fills the void between small single universe DMX controllers and large format lighting consoles. It is designed to simplify control for lighting designers, small-to-midsize production companies, churches, community theatres and performances spaces, providing a new connection between lights and creativity.
“We first used the LINK at San Francisco Pride last year, but that wasn’t really a big flashy kind of show, and there haven’t been a lot of concerts happening recently, so this is definitely the biggest show we’ve used it on,” explained Lazer.
“I’m still learning everything there is to know about the LINK, but I really like it. It’s easy to generate nice effects, and the touchscreen of the iPad and the hardware controls pair really well together and make for a very usable control solution. Because this show had to go in and out on the same day, I had to do the programming on the fly during the day while the warm-up acts were performing. The Master Dimmer then came in really handy, as some of the effects I programmed during the day were a little too bright when the sun went down! Another thing I like is that it is supplied with rack mount hardware, as we were able to make a nice, neat rack case for it ahead of this event. Overall, despite being compact, the LINK was more than capable of running a show of this size.”
For the second stage, Islay Events also relied upon a sound system from ADJ’s sister company, Avante Audio. They utilised eight of the Imperio compact and versatile array modules, which are each loaded with a pair of small woofers alongside six high frequency inverted dome tweeters. These were deployed, four per side, in a ground-stacked configuration and combined with four of the Imperio SUB210 sub bass enclosures. Each of these units incorporate a pair of 10” woofers and utilise a 6th Order Bandpass design to deliver punchy low frequency response with a high SPL. Both models feature internal Class D amplification and can be used together in multiple combinations to build systems suitable for a wide range of different purposes.
“The Avante Imperio system performed phenomenally well,” enthused Cable. “It sounded really good; crisp and clear, with a nice even coverage. Although we were pushing it pretty hard, it was comfortably up to the task. The stage was set up across the street, which had two lanes on each side, plus the sidewalk, so we’re talking around 40’ in total. For the first 100’ in front of the stage the volume was very loud, beyond that it started to taper down pretty evenly, which is exactly what we wanted. It’s also a very easy system to set up and strike. By the time I got over there at the end of the event, the one tech who was running the stage had already packed everything up on his own!”
Coming back from its COVID-19 pandemic induced hiatus with a bang, the 2022 edition was the biggest Black Joy Parade so far. Upwards of 80,000 people participated in the event in some way, either by watching the parade or visiting the Celebration Site, or both! The various performances on the two stages provided many highlights throughout the day, while a huge crowd filled two whole city blocks for headliner Ashanti. The organisers were extremely pleased with the service provided by Islay Events, with the team ensuring everything went without a hitch. Meanwhile, for their part, Cable and his crew couldn’t fault the performance of the ADJ and Avante Audio equipment which provided the tools they needed to deliver a stellar production.