The Pride Parade in Long Beach, CA, was followed by a two-day festival featuring a variety of performance spaces and interactive activations in August 2022. Lighting for the whole event, including the two main stages headlined by hip hop star Iggy Azalea and Spanish singer-songwriter Natalia Jiménez, was supplied by Islay Events.
The company has an extensive stock of ADJ fixtures and deployed a variety of models across the festival site, including Hydro Beam X2 and Focus Spot 4Z moving heads, multifunctional Jolt 300 washes, and almost 100 of the IP65-rated 18P HEX IP LED par fixtures.
Following dialled down celebrations during the pandemic, the 39th Long Beach Pride event aimed to ‘set a new standard for Pride festivals everywhere’. It kicked off with a parade on the morning of Saturday July 10th, which led to a festival site at the city’s marina. This occupied the long thin green space known as Marina Green, which sits between the Marina and E Shoreline Drive, as well as the Rainbow Lagoon Park and Convention Center parking lot across the road. It featured two main performance areas, located at either side of Marina Green, the Urban Soul stage and Fiesta Caliente Stage as well as multiple smaller performance spaces, activations and attractions.
The festival was produced on behalf of the Long Beach Pride association by global creative agency Cogs & Marvel, with San Francisco-based strategic event services company BD+20 providing the event and production management. Having previously worked on various other projects with Cogs & Marvel, lighting specialists Islay Events were brought in to cover all the festival’s lighting requirements as well as custom fabrication of many of the décor elements used for the various activations. In addition to two matching main stage lighting rigs, Islay Events also provided smaller lighting systems for other performance spaces as well as accent lighting for the whole site.
“When I first found out that Cogs & Marvel were producing the event, I hoped they’d use us to light one of the stages,” explained Islay Events’ principal, Jeremy Cable. “However, our involvement kept growing and growing! We’ve done some big events in the past, but this was at least twice the scope of our previous biggest project, when you include all the smaller décor and activation elements we provided alongside the stages as well as the site lighting! Our whole team did a great job of putting together the event and managing it on site, I’m very proud of everyone involved. I know our client was very happy and we’re really hoping to get the contract to do the show again next year.”
Around 18 18P HEX IP LED par fixtures were deployed on each of the main stages, while 60 more were used throughout the site, rigged to truss totems and vertical pipes. These units were used to bring the whole green to life after dark with vibrant splashes of rainbow colours, which both enhanced the event’s aesthetic and visibility for patrons moving around the site. Finally, six more of the fixtures were used to light the Country Stage, which was housed in a large tent and featured live country music performances and line dancing.
“We didn’t have an operator for the Country Stage,” explained Islay Events’ in-house Lighting Designer, Lazer Friedman, so just set those 18Ps on a static red, white and blue wash. It was very effective, just six fixtures filled the whole 20ft by 60ft tent.”
Lazer took care of designing, programming, and operating the Urban Soul Stage throughout the weekend, while LD Kian Hamilton was brought in to handle the Fiesta Stage. “I thought it was interesting that Lazer and I both had pretty much the same fixtures on our stages, but by deploying them in different configurations we created two very different looks,” commented Hamilton.
For the Fiesta Stage, he decided to deploy two of the 18P HEX IPs at the front to wash the crowd, six more on the front bar to light the stage and the rest on an upstage truss for backwash. “For the stage wash I mostly just kept them on white, with a colour temperature that gave nice facial tones to the performers on stage, then I used the audience facing and rear units for the colour,” he explained.
On the Urban Soul Stage, Lazer deployed his 18P HEX IPs split evenly between downstage, mid-stage and upstage trusses to provide an even wash coverage. “I really like the UV element of the 18P HEX IP’s LEDs, which I used a lot of the time for the stage wash,” he commented. “It really made the stage pop with that neon day-glow kind of look, especially when there were dancers up there.”
Each stage also featured four of ADJ’s Hydro Beam X2 large format, IP65-rated dedicated beam moving head luminaires. In both cases, a pair of the fixtures were mounted to the upstage truss, with the other pair flanking them standing on the floor of the stage. “I used the Hydro Beam X2s to create some nice static beam looks, ballyhoos and strobe effects,” stated Hamilton. “And, man, those things really are powerful. I was programming the night before the show and had them set to a fixed look for a while when someone came over and suggested I might want to move one of the beams as it was hitting a hotel five blocks away and lighting up like 20 windows as if it were daylight!”
In addition, both stages also featured a pair of Focus Spot 4Z LED-powered moving head spot fixtures, mounted at the front of the stage. “Considering how light and relatively small they are, the 4Zs are surprisingly punchy,” commented Hamilton. “They are super powerful lights that really held their own on the rig. I used them to create neat cross looks with the beams, GOBO effects shooting out into the crowd, and also to spotlight the DJ position.”
Lazer also utilised his Focus Spot 4Z fixtures to illuminate performers, but at the front instead of the back of the stage. “Unfortunately, the budget for the show didn’t run to spot towers, so we didn’t have any front light for the thrust,” he reported. “But I was able to swing the 4Zs round to hit Iggy Azalea as side lights, which worked out pretty well.”
Ahead of the event, Islay Events expanded its rental stock by investing in 12 multifunctional Jolt 300 LED-powered strobe / wash / eye candy fixtures. These were split across the two stages, lined across the top of each rig, pointing out towards the crowd. “The Jolts are cool, very punchy and extremely versatile.” enthused Hamilton.
“You can create some really neat pixel chase effects by breaking the colour LEDs into multiple zones and the white strobe bar in the middle is super bright. I used them as audience blinders and strobes, but also to add interest to the stage with more subtle sparkle and colour chase effects. Most of the time I used them as ‘eye candy’ lights to add an extra visual dimension to the stage, but then on drops I’d do a big red flash or blast them with a white strobe, which showed just how powerful those lights are. I was also really impressed with how lightweight they are, yet they still seem to be very robust,” he added.
“The Jolt 300 has been on the company’s shopping list for a while but some of the artist riders for this event specifically called for that type of effect, which provided the impetus for going ahead with the purchase,” Cable noted.
Lazer, who heavily influenced the fixture choice, added: “I’d been bugging Jeremy to get some Jolt 300s for a while, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed! They are incredibly bright and punchy, in fact – because my stage had a lower trim height – I couldn’t have them on anywhere near full power or they actually would have blinded the audience!”
Another recent addition to the Islay Events inventory is the Ultra Hex Bar 12 linear LED fixture. Prior to this project, the company invested in six of the units, which were deployed as footlights on the Urban Soul stage, while older ELED Strip 50 RGB fixtures from ADJ’s sister company Elation professional were utilised on the Fiesta Stage. “We love the Elation bars, which have been rock solid, but the technology has really moved on over the past 10+ years we’ve had them, so we knew it was time for an upgrade,” commented Lazer. “The Ultra Bars are noticeably brighter and offer a much richer colour palette from their HEX colour LEDs.”
To control his rig, Lazer utilised ADJ’s innovative LINK control system, which combines the processing power, wireless capability and multitouch interface of an Apple iPad with a dedicated hardware device loaded with tactile buttons, faders, and rotary encoders as well as a 4-universe DMX interface.
“For the Jolts, I used the LINK’s built in colour FX and found it really easy to create some great looking scrolls which made full use of the pixel zone control capability of those fixtures,” he explained. “One particular rainbow chase I had running from side to side across all three zones of each of the six fixtures looked really nice. I also made use of the wireless feature, because during the day I could walk round with the iPad to get my focus without having to have anyone help me. This was also important as my FOH position was actually off to the side, so to get a straight on view of the stage I had to walk away from my desk, but the LINK allowed me to keep programming over there using the iPad.”
In addition to the main stages, a series of dome structures were erected along Arena Green, each with a different performance area or interactive attraction. In the Drag Makeup Dome the Islay Events team hung a Global Truss America 3m circular truss loaded with eight 12P Hex Pearl LED wash fixtures with white cases to blend in with the fabric of the dome. These added atmosphere to the dome during the day but really made it pop, glowing vibrantly, when the sun had gone down in the evening. Meanwhile, in the Silent Disco Dome, over 70 ADJ mirror balls of varying sizes were attached to the roof to create a striking display, while a stage set was built using custom flats attached to Global Truss America GT-Stage decks and covered with reflective Mylar film, stapled to the flats, to create a textured finish.
“The products that ADJ have come out with over the past few years are all really solid and offer a great combination of reliability and output, as well as all the features we need, and a price that works,” concluded Cable. “When we’re working on events like this, with touring artists and riders, we do sometimes come up against brand snobs during the pre-production stage. But nobody ever says anything once the gear is on the stage – when they see it in action they are instantly convinced.”