Like every lighting designer, Erwin Van Lokeren was cut off from live tours during the COVID-19 lockdown. At the time it started, he was beginning work on an upcoming tour by his longtime client, Dutch rock stars, Racoon.
With the world of touring turned away from him, Van Lokeren had time to think about design and what he sees as one of its core meanings, how to reflect his clients’ music. It was, he now says, a time to allow “creativity to run free and build up.”
This April, the result of this creative incubation was revealed during Racoon’s arena show at Rotterdam Ahoy, as Van Lokeren and his Co-designer and Systems Technician, Bert Ploegh transformed the stage with an evocative, mesmerising light show created with the help of CHAUVET Professional Maverick, STRIKE and EPIX fixtures supplied by Splendit.
“For this show because of the COVID-19, we had a lot of time to create and try new things,” said Van Lokeren. “There is a new set list with new songs, which calls for a new design. I always want to translate music into visual components; it is a big part of my role as a designer.”
Just as music weaves its way through different contours and changes its mood often during the same song, so too did Van Lokeren and Ploegh’s lighting design evolve and flow with every note. At the start of one song, for example, there are no front lights; instead a dark, emotional mood is created with UV light from the top and a red band of low light running across the upstage deck, Then, when song opens up, there is a rush of specials from the rig’s Maverick MK3 Profile, MK2 Spot and STRIKE 1 fixtures.
The designers used 93 Maverick MK1 Profile fixtures, relying on them for a variety of functions, including key lighting. “They were perfect with a lot of output,” said Van Lokeren of the 820-watt LED fixture. “This was a big point for us in this venue, especially with cameras. We needed a good fixture that could easily control the colour temperature.”
A group of 50 EPIX Strips also contributed to the distinctive looks on stage. Arranged on the stage floor in a square around the band, they provided up-lighting in addition to making the entire stage glow. “For fans seated in the upper level of the arena, they provided an amazing look,” said Van Lokeren.
The geometric effect on the stage deck was only one of the unique touches Van Lokeren and Ploegh added to this design. They also created a captivating sense of dimensionality to the overall stage panorama by positioning his video panels behind a transparent backdrop.
“For this stadium show I wanted to do something with a backdrop in combination with video,” said Van Lokeren. “I’m not a big fan of video panels being out there in the open when they’re not being used. So for this show we placed them behind the backdrop. This way they’re out of sight when not on, and we have the full use of the backdrop throughout.”
The video/backdrop arrangement “perfectly suits this show,” said Van Lokeren, who notes that it represents a “new kind of thinking” for him.