It was still 32 days before the beloved Cubbies kicked off the 2019 baseball season, but as one of the most frigid winters in memory drew to a close, a group of 400 Windy City rock fans jumpstarted summer on the 20th annual Chicago Music Cruise, a weeklong Caribbean excursion on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of The Seas.
Organised by local rock icons 7th Heaven, the cruise featured a group of leading Chicagoland bands and radio personalities. When cruise-goers weren’t walking the ship’s promenade or dining at its restaurants, they were packing its theatre to dance to a relentless procession of rock and country tunes. Keeping pace with the hard-driving music notes was a dynamic and colourful Zach Scott-designed light show, run with a ChamSys Maxi Wing and ChamSys Extra Wing Compact.
“Given that space is always an issue in a cruise ship environment, I wanted something with a small travel footprint that would still give me enough power to run a 22-universe show with no hiccups,” said Scott. “I’ve been running shows with the MagicQ MQ 500 Stadium, but size was an issue here. It was also very important that whatever I used had the ability to be up and running quickly from show to show. Having used ChamSys for a long time, I knew that it would do the trick.”
In addition to his Maxi Wing and Extra Wing, Scott’s system included a MacBook Pro and Elo Touch Screen. “The MacBook Pro running the MagicQ on PC was the core of the operation,” he said. “I received plots a couple of months prior to the cruise, which gave me ample time to build the rig and preprogram the show. The Maxi Wing is great in this regard since it lets me do my programming and playback through real faders, buttons and encoder wheels. The transition from pre-vis to actually running that show on board the ship went very smoothly.”
Scott ran three different shows, two 60-minute versions and one 90-minute variety, during the cruise. He controlled each show live through the playback faders and cue stack buttons on his Maxi Wing and Extra Wing Compact.
“With 12 faders and 12 executable playbacks, the Extra Wing Compact expanded my options,” he said. “It’s a great tool. I counted on its flash buttons to bump up output at key points, and they are always very responsive. I was also able to execute very smooth fades with them. Dividing my rig between the two wings, I was able to run a full production show in a somewhat restrictive cruise ship setting.”
For Scott, the Chicago Music Cruise offered an opportunity to connect to rock fans in his hometown. “When you go to a concert, people see it and then they’re gone,” he said. “On a cruise, people spend days together, so there’s more interaction. I like that – plus this was a great chance to get away from the Chicago winter weather, too.”