The long, hot summer of COVID-19 saw live music safely come back to Chicago’s lakefront with the new Lakeshore Drive-In venue. Artist management company AudisBliss spearheaded the project working with LEC Event Technology (LEC) to transform a parking lot just west of the Adler Planetarium into an in-person concert venue that keeps the safety of the attendees, artists and employees in mind.
LEC provided Ayrton Perseo-S fixtures for the stage, the first compact, multi-function luminaire with an IP65 enclosure rating developed for intensive outdoor use. “The Lakeshore Drive-In is one of the most respected drive-in operations in the country and the only sustainable drive-in model in Chicago, which is operating very successfully within COVID-19 guidelines,” said Matt Brotz, Owner and Director of Operations at LEC. “LEC took on the role of hardware provider producing the event under a strict budget and with no room for failure. We’ve been very happy with the Ayrton Perseo fixtures and so has the client.”
“With the Lakeshore Drive-In we’ve given our guests the closest experience to a normal live show,” noted Adam Weiss, co-founder of AudisBliss. “We put on these concert events to bring gigs back to the community and give people the opportunity to enjoy live music safely – and see the best views in the city. Chicago needed this.”
The parking lot accommodates about 200 socially-distanced cars; guests can leave their vehicles to set up chairs within the boundaries of their parking spaces. Delivery of food and artist merchandise is available. The venue has hosted a minimum of three shows per week this summer with headliners including Lil Yachty, Mic Jenkins and Ric Wilson, Peekaboo and Autograf.
“LEC was asked to design a stage for the Lakeshore Drive-In that would highlight the talent, adapt to social distancing regulations, and be robust and sustainable for the run of the shows,” Brotz explained. “The stage had to be both impactful and practical standing up to weather along the lakefront.”
Twenty-four Ayrton Perseo IP65-rated fixtures are in the lighting rig with 12 pre-rigged on the truss, six positioned on the ground and another six available to supplement the truss-mounted units. LEC invested in an inventory of Perseo units earlier this year.
“We chose Perseos for the venue for their robust performance outdoors,” Brotz said. “We didn’t want to constantly set and strike rigs.” He noted that, “Perseo is brighter than any light in its class. The LED unit is cost effective, and its gobo set and optics are phenomenal. It’s also lightweight so no special engineering is required.”
According to Brotz, “many of the lighting designers coming through who are using Perseo for the first time just love it. They always compliment its flat field and the sharpness of its optics through the air – Perseos cover a lot of territory.”
“LEC has been a dedicated ACT Lighting supporter over the years and with their early adoption of the new MA3 platform and recently released Ayrton IP65 Perseo fixtures along with a growing inventory of MDG Atmospheric machines their continued investment in cutting edge entertainment technology exemplifies their commitment to excellence,” said ACT Lighting Regional Sales Manager, Aaron Hubbard.
During the coronavirus pandemic setting up a safe live music venue certainly has been a challenge. “The failure of other drive-ins reminded us what not to do,” said Weiss. “Stress is high, but it’s all worth it when you see the positive fan [reactions].” And the same has been true with performers. “No artists have walked off stage without a smile on their faces,” he reported.