Rising rock band Dashboard Confessional hit the road this fall for a six-week tour to support its new album, A Mark, Mission, A Brand, A Scar. The tour was notable for its highly theatrical lighting by co-designers Jack Funk and Warren Flynn.
“They were interested in going to the next level,” says Flynn, who adds that the tour was booked without a significant lighting budget, so lead player Chris Carrabba paid for the gear himself. Interestingly, Flynn says, Carabarra and his bandmates “didn't want flash and trash. They wanted to create a more theatrical look.” To achieve this, Flynn, who has worked as a programmer on such Broadway shows as Thoroughly Modern Millie and Wicked, says he and Funk talked to Carrabba “about the story behind the songs,” adding that his Broadway work has taught him to focus on narrative when designing. Flynn adds that the look of the tour was “intimate — it was as much about the audience as the band. They're so involved — they sing along with them and sometimes they're almost as loud as the band.”
To get the desired theatrical look, Funk and Flynn designed a rig dominated by a series of six towers of varying heights (12', 10', and 8') placed upstage to down. (The towers were covered in frosted Plexiglas®.) On these were placed 12 Martin Mac 2000s, which Flynn calls “the best moving lights on the market right now.” (Christie Lights supplied the gear.) Working with house PAR cans and dimmers in each facility, the designers built their looks using lots of deeply saturated colors, along with some pastels and gobos, covering the band from side and high-side positions.
Flynn is known as an advocate of the grandMA console, from MA Lighting (distributed in the US by A.C.T Lighting). Working on a very tight time schedule, he says he and Flynn programmed 22 songs in two days, writing the cues so they could cope with any rearrangements of the playlist (“The grandMA has enough faders to do that,” he adds.) They rehearsed with the band at a theatre in Port Chester, NY, where they learned just how important the audience was to the band. “They couldn't understand why the Macs wouldn't get out in the audience fast enough,” he says wryly. “They wanted plenty of light on the audience.”
Despite considerable challenges in terms of budget and time, the tour came together quickly, to the satisfaction of one and all. Flynn says “Chris liked how it all came together.” He notes that he and Funk shared all lighting duties; he also cites the contributions of production manager Brian Bavido, and crew members Michele ‘Suki’ Dukes, and Mike Flynn. He's particularly proud of the latter, who is also his son, making for two generations of Flynns in the lighting business. Funk served as lighting director for the tour.
The tour ended in November, but the band has a couple of dates in December and is scheduled to go out again in the spring to play a number of bigger venues.