On a sultry August evening, Matchbox 20 lit up the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey with the Vari*Lite(R) VL7(TM) automated spot luminaire and an innovative set incorporating everything from curved truss to video projections. This tour marked the concert debut for the instrument.
The VL7 offered Matchbox 20 many of its most prominent features: a completely variable zoom, the flexibility of combining a fixed gobo/color wheel with a rotating gobo wheel, striking color mixing while changing focus, and dynamic movements in every conceivable direction. Vari-Lite programmer Chris Nyfield used the company's Artisan(R) Plus console to create effects ranging from stage washes in bright and vibrant colors to rotating gobos softly illuminating the projection screen backdrop. All gobo selections were made from the Vari-Lite catalog; custom effects included combinations of static and rotating units, including a wave-type gobo rotating with a static prism on the white background.
Originally designed by LD Joel Reiff, the Matchbox 20 tour used specially edited "video wallpaper" as a backdrop for the band, with the stage washed in sepia tones (the washes and strobing showcased the Osram Sylvania HTI 600W arc lamp). The backdrop was framed by large circular columns and VL7s in front of the projection screens. Other VL7s were mounted on curved truss at the extreme stage left and right positions. Overhead truss supported a variety of ellipsoidals, PARs, and scrollers. Dramatic use of gel included Lee 017 (Surprise Peach) for the sepia tones, Lee 115 (Peacock Blue) for romantic imagery, and Lee 27 (Medium Red) for a warm look.
All theatrical lighting instruments require maintenance from the rigors of touring, fast set-up, and even faster strike. While the wind carried off most of the smoke effects, the VL7s moved in sync and on cue. At the beginning of their use on this tour, there was one software bug, but that was resolved with a software revision deliveredovernight. This patch, combined with careful maintenance of the units by Ron Beal, enabled a smooth performance before an approving crowd. On a related musical note, the VL7 also made its European debut this summer at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Europe.