As the lighting designer for touring country star, Chase Rice, Zakk Bosserman has become a master at moulding a wide variety of house and festival rigs to fit his client’s versatile blend of music.
“I design my floor package to be suitable to every size stage that we play,” said Bosserman, the owner of Nashville-based Retinal Abuse. “This ranges from one thousand capacity rooms to fifty-thousand-plus festivals. The back lighting and other lights in my floor package allow me to get the looks I want without having to rely on what I have above me. I need to do this, because sometimes the flown rig isn’t what it should be, but at other times I get very lucky.”
Fortune smiled on Bosserman recently when his chart-topping client headlined The Blame My Roots Festival, and he found a collection of CHAUVET Professional Maverick MK3 Profile, STRIKE 4 and Rogue R2 Wash fixtures flying overhead, all supplied by Showtime Sound. “This was the first time I ever got a chance to play with the Mavericks, and they were fantastic,” he said. “I found the MK3’s gobo set to be really effective at lighting the audience without making it too abusive to the folks in the crowd.”
Bosserman learned three weeks before the festival which fixtures would be in his flown rig. That’s when he built everything quickly in previs, then programmed the show in his home studio before arriving onsite. “I can spend more time at the show working on little details and really honing positions,” he explained. “Outdoor festivals make focusing significantly more difficult, so I want to put as much time into that as I can on the show day, and have the gobos and cloning and strobe stuff figured out well ahead of time.”
At the Blame My Roots Festival, Bosserman’s show relied heavily on aerial effects, creating “bigness” in the air. There were also some moments when he matched the output/look of spots and washes to create “one big fixture set working together.” Audience lighting from his Maverick fixtures, spots and STRIKE 4 multi-formatted units (arranged in two rows of three) was used often to rev up the crowd.
A key factor in Bosserman’s design strategy at Blame My Roots was to maintain a sense of proportionality on the relatively high festival stage. “Trim height is less of a factor to me than what the actual box of the stage looks like in relation to the guys onstage,” he said. “I want the show to look proportional to itself, so naturally I spread out the trim of the main lighting trusses a little more than I would on a shorter roof.
“All that being said, however, the trim height suddenly becomes very important if the fixtures up in the air can’t look competitive at those kinds of throw distances,” continued Bosserman. “The MK3s really shined in this regard. I could always look up and see a strong beam top to bottom, even when we used the most restrictive gobos. In the past with some flown rigs, I’d end up with other fixtures in the air; then I’d have to pump the room full of haze to get the flown rig to look appropriate compared to the bright LED washes on my floor package carts – but this show was spec’d super well by Showtime Sound.”
The well-chosen festival rig also made it easier for Bosserman to create the variety of looks needed to reflect his client’s music. “With Chase, there isn’t any one variety of ‘country music,’’ he said. “We have significant rock, 90s country, and modern pop influences running through the show. For example, Chase’s new single Key West and Colorado, is country through-and- through, but with a more Americana roots feel.”