CHAUVET Professional helps illuminate Thundercat’s Summer Happening show

Justin Preston balances looks for Thundercat’s Broad Museum Show with CHAUVET Professional lighting fixtures. Photo: CHAUVET Professional

Visitors to The Broad Museum got to experience the free flowing creativity of Takashi Murakami when Thundercat, a self-described “Japanophile” performed at the institute’s Summer Happening outdoor show in conjunction with Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, a temporary exhibit of Murakami’s artwork.

Supporting Thundercat’s performance, along with that of opening act Ginger Root was a lively and colourful busked lightshow by Justin Preston that featured 39 CHAUVET Professional fixtures from Preston Productions own inventory.

“From a busking standpoint, it is always fun, but a little nerve-racking, working on bands with a jazz, or jam aesthetic,” said Preston, owner of Preston Productions. “It’s  one thing busking a standard pop song, but Thundercat especially can be a little more musically complex. We were given a pretty wide range by the artists as far as our lighting design was concerned. Thundercat’s team’s only request was that we stay away from green.”

Abiding by that proviso, Preston and his team, programmer Marcus Mathews and master electrician Lucas Garrity, nevertheless created a dynamic rainbow on the show’s outdoor stage.

“We had fun playing with a wide variety of colour looks, since the music of both acts lent itself to cutting loose with creative expressions,” said Preston. “There was one point where we tried a cyan and a purple/yellow and a red/white look that really  popped. Definitely something that I will keep in my memory bank.”

Helping Preston create this colourful panorama were 17 Color STRIKE M motorised strobe washes. He positioned six of these units on upstage truss, six on mid stage truss and five on the upstage deck. Availing himself of the 14 controllable sections of pixel mappable RGB LEDs on the fixture’s face, he conjured up a variety of captivating background looks to reflect the complexity of the music being performed on stage.

The bright output of the Color STRIKE M allowed Preston to create a vibrant aura on  stage early in the show even with the ambient light from the California sun. Later, when it got dark, he was able to run the fixtures at only five to ten percent, thanks to their brightness.

Preston also used eight STRIKE Array fixtures as audience blinders, and seven Maverick Storm 1 Wash units for front light. Like the rest of his rig, these fixtures were arranged on a self-climbing truss structure supplied by Felix Lighting.

“Since the rig was up for a few days, we wanted IP 65 fixtures,” said Preston. “However,  given the truss structure we had on stage we had to be careful about weight, so these units were perfect for us.”

With the show taking place in the middle of downtown LA, Preston also had to take care not to have his light shine into the windows of nearby buildings. “We wanted our light to be dynamic and supportive without being intrusive,” he said, noting that, like great art and complex music, a good light show is all about achieving balance.