Firmly embedding themselves into the fabric of the modern day Colorado music scene, electronic dance duo, Big Gigantic, hosted two sold out shows at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheater as part of their Rowdytown concert series. The ninth installment saw drummer, Jeremy Salken and saxophonist and producer, Dominic Lalli thrash through their back catalogue of electronic, hip-hop, and jazz tracks, supported by impressive 3D visuals, production and show design.
Lighting Designer, Ricardo Rojas, was parachuted in to assemble a team of talented technicians and creatives able to execute the collective vision of Rowdytown IX. Donning multiple [hard]hats – as equal parts creative director, show designer, and production designer – Rojas was responsible for directing all creative aspects of the show from lighting, video, and lasers to content.
Rojas turned to the technical expertise of trusted vendor, Clearwing Productions who provided an arsenal of lighting and video kit and crew; 2n Design for video content; All Access Staging for two hydraulic riser lifts, while Pyrotecnico equipped Rowdytown with lasers.
“I surrounded myself with hard working and talented people, which led to a wonderful show,” Rojas began, praising the hardwork and dedication of the workforce. “We all came together to create a special couple of nights.”
With COVID-19 ever present, the organisation of the production was geared towards making a safe space for the performing artists, crew and audiences. “We were excited to work on the shows, but everyone did a great job of understanding the reality of the climate. We were tested at various points during the project, before interacting with each other. We also wore masks on site and followed general COVID-19 protocols,” Rojas outlined. “There were probably less in person meetings than pre-COVID. We adapted quickly, and did what we had to, to ensure the project was a success.”
One of Rojas’ main challenges was creating a design that was modular enough to provide a unique experience during both nights. “We wanted to create two different looking nights without having to entirely swap out the production design,” Rojas explained. “I achieved this by playing with different trim heights and moving elements from the floor package around the stage. This allowed us to make both sold out nights feel different and keep things interesting for the crew and audience.”
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Clearwing Productions-supplied rig featured 48 GLP impressions X4 Bars and 26 JDC1 strobes, 24 Martin by Harman MAC Axiom and 12 Viper Performance moving heads, six 2-Lite Molefay blinders, 60 ROE Visual CB8 blow through LED screen panels and 12 hazers providing atmospherics. 2n Design built stereoscopic 3D content, provided custom media servers, and live camera effects.
The event marked the first time that Big Gigantic has featured lasers at Rowdytown shows, with Pyrotechnico providing 14 Lightline 4W crowd scanning lasers and four Kvant high-powered 20W lasers.
“I wanted to add lasers to allow us to integrate a fresh creative element to add depth and dynamics to the live show. This allowed us to immerse the Red Rocks audience in lasers, which I feel resulted in the shows feeling more intimate,” Rojas said, praising the work of Laser Programmer, Tyler Barbone and the wider crew.
“It was gratifying to see the sleepless nights and long meetings pay off,” he continued. “We worked on this show for months and seeing the audience reaction made it all worthwhile. Live music is one of the few activities in society that encourages us to be present, while being surrounded by strangers. I don’t think any of us understood how much we valued being in the presence of others, for a common cause, until the pandemic ripped that away from us.”
As well as experiencing his renders turn to reality before his very eyes, thanks to a talented workforce, Rojas was grateful to be afforded the opportunity to create spectacles at a time of mass uncertainty for the sector.
“There were and still are some very talented people who have not had a chance to share their immense talents with the world again due to the pandemic. I was definitely aware that we were very lucky to be working on creative projects again. While the job is demanding and challenging, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
This article originally appeared in issue #267 of TPi, which you can read here.