Tablo, DJ Tukutz and Mithra Jin, the trio that make up South Korean hip-hop trio, Epik High don’t just connect to audiences through their music and onstage charisma, they also welcome fans into their world, by sharing heartfelt stories and experiences. The crowd eagerly accepts the invitation with their warm, enthusiastic (and often loud) response their heroes.
“My biggest challenge was protecting my ears from the sound of the fans around me,” laughed Aaron Sweatt, the LD and main programmer on the trio’s recently concluded global All Time High tour, which featured a lighting design by Julien Reux. “The emotional connection between these artists and their fans is really very remarkable.”
Given this connection, Reux, of Black Lantern Creative, made sure to include ample options for audience lighting in the rig he designed by beefing it up with 24 CHAUVET Professional STRIKE Array 2 fixtures. He valued the output of the two-pod blinders for crowd lighting, as well as the photo friendly glow of the tungsten-like light.
“The amber tones in this show were great for that audience shots,” he said. “Our tour photographer and media, Bobo, loved the tungsten look for catching the audience in big moments.”
Sweatt added that the audience lighting also benefitted the performers on stage. “It’s a hip hop show, so when the artists start yelling, ‘Hands Up!’ you want them to be able to see the audience’s interaction,” he said. “The amber tungsten looks work great on the crowd. They’re something that feels right to me and how I choose to visually represent the song to the audience.”
Reux positioned the STRIKE Array fixtures behind blow-through video wall. This arrangement was useful in helping the show to start out small and end with a flourish. “I really wanted to reveal the Strike Arrays in a big way that the audience wouldn’t see them while waiting for the artists to go on,” he explained. “Instead, we decided to use them around the halfway mark when the energy started to escalate.”
Going beyond amber, the show was energized by a wide variety colors, as befits Epik High’s versatile sound, which can pivot in a flash from the chill vibes of “Strawberry,” and “On My Way,” to the raw intensity of songs like “Fly.” Colors were selected to compliment the content created by video director Eddie Perez, who, along with production manager, Jesse Mancillas, and L2, Jacob Wick, contributing to the tour’s success.
In all cases, music was the overriding consideration when selecting colors. “For me, color choice has always been something I felt inspired to do when hearing the song. This is more important than trying to connect or tie it back to artwork from the artist,” said Sweatt. “When I hear a song, a color palette immediately comes to mind — and that’s where the programming for each song lands. When songs are bright and upbeat, I love rolling with a CMY looks.”
For Sweatt, a favorite moment in the show during the hit “Rosario,” when the house spots slowly fly out over the audience, strobes kick in, and then the stage goes black right as the floor lights point out towards the audience and do a super fast gobo spin into the chorus of the song.
Reux , on the other hand, was particularly impressed by the last encore songs. “We really turned it up and made it felt like an EDM concert to send the end of the show on a high note,” he said, adding that an Epik High show is all about making memories… recollections that will later be shared on a deeply personal level, exactly the way Epik High would want them to be.