NF embarks on US tour with versatile lighting rig

Creative Director, Chris Denholm and Lighting Designer, Clay Joiner specify Martin by Harman VDO Sceptron and MAC Quantum Wash fixtures, provided by Solotech, for rapper, NF’s tour. Photo: Harman

Rapper and songwriter, Nate Feuerstein, more commonly known as NF, embarked on a massive amphitheater tour this past fall that showcased Martin Professional by Harman VDO Sceptron and MAC Quantum Wash fixtures with P3 system control, provided by Solotech.

The tour’s lighting crew aimed to create a rig that enhanced and heightened NF’s energy for arena-sized venues while also maintaining an aesthetic use of shadows and darkness. To achieve this balance, Creative Director, Chris Denholm and Lighting Designer, Clay Joiner selected Martin by Harman VDO Sceptron LED video battens and MAC Quantum Wash lights.

“We tried to figure out how we could carry a show with just one guy on stage and how to put together a rig that would lend to Nate’s performing,” said Denholm. “Nate’s very physical onstage; he runs around and ping pongs from place to place, so framing him properly has always been an important thing to do. Also, he’s a no-front-light artist; it’s all silhouette and sidelight with him. So we really needed a powerful fixture for the sidelight.”

“We wanted something very symmetrical to reflect the style of his music,” added Joiner. “He raps a lot about mental health and his journey through OCD, and so with that in mind, we wanted to create this space that wrapped around him and that looked bigger than it was by smashing everything together into a small zone and putting everything in boxes. When we were thinking about how we can do that framing, we immediately knew that the Sceptrons were a great choice for that.”

Denholm, Joiner and the lighting crew used the Sceptrons to create a series of boxes above and alongside the stage with each box housing a group of wash and fixture lights, resulting in a heightened sense of scale.

Sceptrons’ mapping and programming abilities provided the lighting crew with enough versatility to follow the setlist’s emotional cues, whether through intense washes and strobes during high-energy moments or near-blackout shades for the more contemplative points.

“I know it sounds funny but having a lateral texture as well as vertical texture like the square Sceptron boxes has so much more of a feel to it,” said Joiner. “When you’re running content behind them like lights and video, you get so much more impact than if you’re just running straight lines and there’s no connection point. The whole rig feels so much more alive with those boxes, and there are a lot of moments that I love personally when the Sceptrons steal the show.”

The lighting crew placed the Quantum Washes side stage and used them in lieu of a front light in order to keep Feuerstein silhouetted while also providing enough power and coverage to make him visible even from the furthest seats in a given venue. Martin P3 visual control software also allowed the crew to control the Quantum Washes with ease.

“Nate’s kind of a mythical figure – if you see images from the show, you rarely see his face,” said Denholm. “But at the same time, you have an amphitheater, or in some cases arenas, and you’ve got those fans that are sitting far back on the lawn. That’s the 7,000th or 8,000th ticket purchased. They need to be able to see Nate even without front lighting, and so the Quantum Washes were the perfect way to make that happen.”