LarMac Live Production Manages Silent Gig for Absolute Radio

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London based show and event production company LarMac LIVE created a design and co-ordinated technical production for a 'silent' Scouting For Girls gig on the third floor of The Bargehouse exhibition venue at London's Oxo Tower. They were working for national radio station Absolute Radio and smart car.

Absolute Radio had signed a high profile deal with smart to promote the new smart fortwo campaign. This saw Absolute Radio run a promotion on the high profile Geoff Lloyd Hometime show which culminated in the station staging the silent gig and one lucky listener winning a smart car.

Wanting a funky central London location with a special vibe, the venue - a charismatic stripped-out Victorian warehouse space peeled back to its raw RSJs and original brickwork - was chosen. There was one major logistical challenge - they needed to stage the show without violating the noise restrictions for what is also a residential area.

LarMac Live's Jo MacKay and Ian Greenway pooled their vast experience of festival production management and lateral thinking, coming up with the idea of staging the gig "silent" style - band onstage, no PA, minimal noise, guests able to enjoy the show via radio headsets, resulting in happy clients and residents.

The events team at Absolute Radio, with whom LarMac LIVE has worked on several previous projects including production managing and designing their VIP hospitality areas at the Isle of Wight Festival, were inspired and gave it the green light! Although silent discos and dance events have been happening for a few years, applying the concept to a live band is still relatively rare, adding another dimension of atmosphere and innovation to the whole occasion - which also took place on Friday 13th!

LarMac LIVE's Jo MacKay developed a production design for the space, and they brought in regular technical suppliers including - Britannia Row (sound), Colour Sound Experiment (lighting), Blackout (drapes and dressing) and Show Force (crewing). Their team was headed up on site by Jenny Stogdon.

The location presented many other physical challenges apart from the low noise scenario, including 6 flights of steep narrow stairs for access, one 3-phase 63A power supply which had to be run up from the first floor and shared between all departments, and a low ceiling.

Visuals & Design

The design involved the transformation of the bare room in its raw condition into an inviting party environment which had to be achieved in the space of 10 hours.

The first thing to happen was the installation of a pipe-and-drape system around all the walls and the central pillars, after which all wallspace was clad in black bolton material, which was overlaid with 80 square metres of Chroma-Q ColorWeb 250 LED mesh. Apart from looking fabulous and providing some eye-catching moving effects, this also added some real depth and dimension to the space, giving the illusion of a much larger area.

The back and sides of the stage - positioned at the far end - were draped in sumptuous purple velvet, in keeping with Absolute Radio's ident colours. A dressing room for the band was created in an adjacent room, draped out in rich red velvet fabric. The velvet contrasted beautifully with the rough and ready textures of the building's interior.

A slick finishing touch to the overall visual design was carpeting the main room in one metre wide strips of black, slate grey and purple. This covered the whole floor, went up over the front edge of the stage and ended at the back wall.

MacKay collaborated closely with Haydn Cruickshank from Colour Sound on the lighting design. One of the special effects she specifically wanted was some classic psychedelic kinetics undulating around on the ceiling and floor, which was achieved with a collection of six Solar 250 effects projectors, quality antiques that were dusted off for the occasion and looked resplendent with a selection of vintage liquid oil wheels and other wacky effects.

Mindful of the limited power, Cruickshank's general lighting scheme for the room and the stage utilised a selection of different LED fixtures - GLP Impression RZ 120 moving wash lights, Chroma-Q Color Force 72 battens and i-Pix Satellite 'bricks', over 30 of which were dotted around the room illuminating the seating areas, dancefloor and bar. There was also a set of Sunstrips at the back of the stage.

All the lighting equipment had to be either floor or stand based or clamped to additional pipe-and-drape. Lighting was programmed and controlled via a Chamsys MagicQ console.

The room design was finished off with a series of acrylic panels printed with retro kaleidoscopic patterns, which were back-lit and used for the bar front, to mask the FOH mixing position, and hung above a small chill-out booth in the side of the room on stage left.

A seated area was created at the back of the room, bringing a contemporary twist of silver and black Chesterfields and Ottoman sofas and matching mirrored tables.

MacKay Comments, "I needed the design to work on many levels. The historical ambience of the building was a good starting point and it being an incredible space in its own right. Then it had to be welcoming and vibey for guests, whilst also creating a sense of the unexpected, so they kept encountering surprises, right from when they stepped into the building and went up the stairs, to entering the transformed gig room to being handed the headsets to and getting immersed in the performance".

Silent Sound

In charge of sonic transmission and noise control was Britannia Row's Bob Lopez - also the first time the company had provided a silent system for a band. Two PM5D audio consoles were supplied to mix monitors and FOH, with a left and right feed from the FOH desk going into the radio system that beamed the signal to all the headsets. These came complete with individual volume control and integrated aerials, allowing the 150 guests - all Absolute Radio listeners - to enjoy the full loudness, clarity and dynamic range of Scouting For Girls' jaunty pop - just as if they'd been in a concert hall!

A Sennheiser G2 in-ear monitor system was provided for the band, and the only speakers in the house were those with their generic backline.

Everything went like clockwork on the night, which proved to be a great fusion of new technology in a fabulous old space adapted into a buzzing social environment for a very cool evening.

For more press information on LarMac LIVE, please contact Louise Stickland on +44 7831 329888 or +44 1865 202679 or EMail : louise@loosplat.com.

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