– By the Lighting India Content Team
‘The Brothers: Celebrating 50-years of the Allman Brothers Band’ was a show staged at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden just before the state went into lockdown in a massive effort to halt the spread of Covid-19. Lighting Designer – Chris Ragan utilized over 100 Robe fixtures paired with dynamic design for the four-hour performance. The Brothers’ were known for their dynamic fusion of blues, jazz and country with their distinctive rock music have stayed relevant long after their first period during their days of glory. To give insight into the lighting aspect, Ragan has numerous connections, the members, many of whom have been clients to the lighting rental vendor BML-Blackbird Theatrical Services. The Robe count included 44 x Spiider LED wash beams, 20 x BMFL Spots, 26 x MegaPointes and 12 x PixelPATTs, all supplied by BML-Blackbird.
As soon as the event reached the design stage, the show was sold in a 360 format, and Chris was well-aware of what was needed in terms of sightlines. He said: “We all wanted to involve the look and style in the show,” while speaking of a substantial visual challenge.
Chris sketched a “large mushroom” that would hang above the band onstage – adding a projection surface surrounded by lighting. The mushroom was originally adopted by the Allmans as a psychedelic orientated logo that had transcended the history and various line-ups of the band. To add effect, a 20ft by 30ft mushroom was created using an assortment of 12-inch truss circles. They then added four LED walls positioned at each corner of the stage to provide IMAG and to show custom show content created by Johnathan Singer, Marco Ferrero and Steve Pavlovsky. Adam Paul was the IMAG / camera / stream director.
Once all this was determined, Chris positioned his lighting fixtures. The Robe BMFL Spots were rigged on the upstage and overhead trusses; the Spiiders were also on these two trusses and downstage on the deck; the MegaPointes were on the upstage deck and overheads, and the PixelPATTs on a series of upstage truss towers at different heights. BMFLs are Chris’ ‘go-to’ powerful profile fixture. MegaPointes were chosen for their renowned speed and a diverse range of features which proved great for framing the stage and providing a prism effect. The Spiiders and PixelPATTs were used primarily as wash lights, together with their jazzy and dynamic pixel ‘tricks’ and the Spiiders doubled for “very effective” painting of the audience utilizing their flower effect.
“I love having the ability to mask pixels, it gives so many combinations and looks from one type of fixture and all of this helps keep the show fresh!” stated Chris.
As you can imagine, four hours, with one interval – a major challenge was evolving and growing the visuality and atmosphere and ensuring that there was always something interesting and dramatic to look at. Also, the MSG rig were some profile moving lights for keys, plenty of strobes and approximately 100 lights dedicated just to audience illumination.
Time was a massive challenge on-site as they had only one day to load-in and get show-ready. After that, the next challenge was the length of the show. The 90-minute sets were punctuated by a 30-minute interval and this was followed by a 30-minute encore timing in at approximately four hours. Chris was inspired by many variables whilst working on this landmark show.