David Summers creates two looks for The Wonder Years Tour with CHAUVET Professional

Photo: Kelly Mason

In 2010, The Wonder Years released The Upsides, followed a year later by Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing. Reflecting on the battle against the loneliness and isolation too-often found in modern life, the two albums not only cemented the band’s reputation as creators of thought-provoking music, they also influenced the entire pop punk genre.

As the tenth anniversary of these seminal albums approached, the band intended to celebrate with successive tours. COVID-19, of course had other plans. With the pandemic lockdown putting a crimp on live music, The Wonder Years had to hold off until this spring to mark the release of the two important LPs with a coast-to-coast US and UK tour.

For the band’s legion of fans it was well worth the wait, as the six-piece band fills venues with its raw, intense power and animated stage presence. Supporting them every step of the way is a David Summers light show featuring CHAUVET Professional fixtures supplied by Squeek Lights.

True to the spirit of a tour that celebrates not one, but a pair of albums, Summers’ design has two distinct personalities. “Dan Campbell, the singer of The Wonder Years, told me he wanted to do a unique set up for their double album anniversary tour,” said Summers. “In essence, his idea was to have a split stage that would pay homage to each of the two albums the band was performing”

The “first stage personality” is characterised by traditional rock tour looks with plenty of atmospherics, and audience washes as well as intense side lighting from Rogue R1X Spot fixtures positioned stage left and right. “I kept a prism in them to help them spread across the downstage,” Summers said of the 170-watt LED spot fixtures. “We created a lot of gobos with them too, which was great for the band’s melodic parts.”

During those intervals when the show was turned over to the music of Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing, the stage took on a different, more theatrical air, as attention shifted to a scenic backdrop of suburban house set against a city in the far distance.

This backdrop played a key role in defining changes from one album to the next, fading during The Upsides portion of the show, either as the result of dimmed lights or blinders covering it, then coming alive for the suburban sections with intense colorisation.

Adding to the visual power of the scenic design is the light from seven COLORado 1 Solo fixtures that emanates from the windows of the centre-stage “houses.” Summers relies on the RGBW washes to conjure up this effect.

To create a sense of depth that allowed the stage to accommodate dual looks, Summers worked with Victor Zeiser of Squeek lights to arrange three rows of four Nexus 4×1 linear fixtures across upstage, mid-stage and downstage positions.