Demonstrating the rising popularity of non-English speaking artists on the global stage, Karol G – the first female artist to reach number one on the Billboard 200 with an entirely Spanish album – recently wrapped up a sold-out stadium tour of North America, backed by an impressive production.
Lighting Designer, Ignacio Rosenberg of Lightswitch began working with the artist in 2021. Despite Karol G’s rapid rise to fame and the ever-increasing scale of her live shows, Mañana Será Bonito feels very personable to the LD.
He elaborated: “It’s a very communal environment, to the point where we did the show and one of the big concerns for her was that she was going to be so far from the audience, and since I tend to design with the idea that people attend an event, not just go see a show, I always try to bring the show into and towards the audience, so lighting the far areas behind FOH seemed like a natural solution to both our approaches.”
Strobes were a recurring highlight of Rosenberg’s lighting design. “The introduction to the show is very big – one of the first lighting cues is every strobe on. We wanted to set the bar for the audience showing them how big and ‘in your face’ the show is,” Rosenberg explained. “From opening acts to 200 strobes on is a pretty big jump and I think that really informs the level of energy the show is going to have. Personally, I love it, it is such a simple cue, but it works so well for the audience to be slapped in the face with the scale of the show.”
The reggaeton-inspired track list provided a unique set of challenges for Rosenberg, who chose to illuminate sections of show based on each track’s melody, as opposed to the beat, which he described as “really fun”.
The story design came from Karol G, with scripting and storyline development by The Squared Division, placing the show in three sections beginning with blues as a mermaid takes centre stage, then onto magenta and following on with a final burst of colour.
With just under two months to debut the show, finding a firm that could provide 700 moving lights in time proved challenging. Step forward, PRG. The lighting rig featured 190 ‘powerful’ CHAUVET Professional Color STRIKE M fixtures, which Rosenberg describes as his ‘workhorse’ fixture. “We’re battling with LED screens: everything that isn’t lighting is an LED screen. These fixtures are powerful enough to punch through the brightness of the LED.”
A further 110 Robe MegaPointes; 45 Vari-Lite VL3600s; 134 GLP X5 Bar IPs, 50 X4S and 48 JDC1s; 32 Martin Professional MAC Ultra Washes and eight Performances; 12 SGM G7 BeaSts; eight Ayrton Domino LTs; 13 TMB Solaris Flare Q+s; 22 Astera AX5s and a pair of Astera Titan Tubes made up the lighting package. Atmospherics came in the shape of eight MDG The One hazers, all controlled by an MA Lighting grandMA3 full size console in MA2 mode with a grandMA3 Light for backup.
Rosenberg often strives to maximise the potential of a show while being budget-conscious: translating this to Karol G’s production by putting on a scale of the show that the artist desired. To this end, Rosenberg was closely involved in everything from the previsualisation stages to the build of the show. He noted that if this had not been the case, and he had waited for production rehearsals to begin, he would not have had enough time to programme and light the show.
Using Syncronorm Depence software during the previsualisation stages cut the amount of time the crew needed with the physical rig. “I had a programmer making changes so I could be out doing rehearsals with Karol G, make notes and go back and forth with programmers,” Rosenberg stated.
The collective nature of the show is important to Rosenberg, who summarised: “I think we’ve created some interesting, subtle and theatrical looks, which is hard to construct with a reggaeton show. Karol G is to the audience how she is to us, she is very genuine on stage and that is a big part of the final design – she really loves her audience, the songs strike a chord and ultimately, it is a giant party, which is what she wanted.”
Words: Alicia Pollitt
Photos: Scott Harris