While New Year’s Eve is typically a night of expectancy for the coming year, lighting designer Paul Hoffman had a different kind of anticipation at the event: the set list selection. With a repertoire of over 350 songs, Widespread Panic’s concerts can go many different directions musically.
“I don’t get a set list until maybe five minutes beforehand, so I have to interpret the music in real time and set the lighting to it on the fly,” said Hoffman. “It is kind of an unusual way to run lights. The material ranges from dark and moody, to ballad-like, to whimsical, to full on raging rock – and sometimes those transitions happen very fast – so you need lots of things at your fingertips.”
The equipment at his fingertips included Vari*Lite 3000 spots, a fixture Hoffman describes as his “workhorse.”
“There are brighter fixtures on the market for sure,” said Hoffman, “but I’m still in love with the optics, colors and patterns.”
Other equipment used included GLP Impressions, the new GLP Impression X4s, GRN LED Pars and GRN LED Battens from Bandit Lites, Clay Paky Sharpys, Maxedia Video Servers, Mirage Video Panels and GrandMA2 Consoles.
To add to the energy of the New Year buzz, Hoffman used video, a new addition to Widespread Panic concerts.
“It’s how you use it that determines whether it will be a success,” said Hoffman of the new medium. “I didn’t want people coming and staring at a screensaver the whole show, so I used the circular video wall to display static imagery, and a small countdown animation. The trusses running the length of the arena also help me get the audience ‘involved’ in the looks, and I tend to think that helps with the overall energy. Lastly, I integrated my front truss into the thematic design more than I have in the past; I believe that made a big difference.”
In addition to the new video medium and spontaneous set list, Hoffman had both a tight deadline to battle this year, as Widespread Panic took a hiatus for a majority of 2012, and a new console to start from scratch with.
“I had no “lead up” to this show as I normally would,” explained Hoffman. “We are on a severe time crunch at New Years to make everything happen, so I usually bring in and augment my rig from the preceding fall tour. No ability to do that this time as we didn’t tour in 2012. In addition, I changed consoles to the GrandMA2 series, so 4 years of programming went out the window and I started from scratch.”
The result was a stunning show from start to finish, with beams of light shooting from all round the circular truss and the stadium truss into the audience.
“With Widespread taking the best part of a year away from touring, Paul had a huge task to come in cold with a huge New Year’s Eve show,” said Bandit client representative Dizzy Gosnell, “and add to that using GrandMA 2’s this year from the Mk1’s on previous tours. He really pulled off a fantastic looking show, which, as is Paul’s style, looks far bigger than the sum of its parts: enormous bombastic visuals that include every punter into the show, and not just the front row. In fact, some of the best looks can be seen from the nose bleed seats. We at Bandit get a great deal of pleasure looking at photos and YouTube clips taken by some of the friends of Widespread afterwards, and just like the band themselves, they never disappoint.”
“I have to give Bandit Lites incredible kudos for their performance throughout the process, said Hoffman, “starting with Client Rep Dizzy Gosnell on the CAD, engineering, and budget side, Don Lockridge as Project Manager on the construction of the system, and of course, my incredible Bandit crew of Shawn Beaulieu, Wayne Lotoza, Rick Munroe and Brent Maxon who worked solidly and steadily; never getting frustrated and even remembering to smile and laugh sometimes. They got it done in style, under pressure and on time.”
About Bandit Lites, Inc.
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