From London to Las Vegas and everywhere in between, the latest trend with many small to medium-sized concert venues has been “out with the old, in with the new” when it comes to in-house lighting rigs. Whether to entice new acts or simply to keep up with technology, LDs are welcoming the changes, which — pardon the pun — give them a chance to shine.
While the big money is in the monolithic concert tours that traverse the world, these midsized venues are plentiful in major cities and provide a more intimate performance space for acts to play a quick set while on break from recording or touring or to perform for a smaller crowd, which, in turn, gives them the chance to get in touch with fans. These venues also showcase lighting manufacturers' latest gear. Just because the rigs aren't packed up and moved around doesn't mean they don't get a solid work out, maybe more so. Instead of the same lighting scheme in a variety of cities, most of these rigs need to be as versatile as possible for the revolving door of artists.
La Scala in London needed to update its instruments due to an increase in the venue's live music schedule. Originally built in 1920, La Scala was a movie theatre, but throughout the years, it has served as a lively and often controversial space until its current incarnation that was reopened in 1999. La Scala's resident technical manager, Christian Smith, specified the new lights in order to give visiting LDs more options.
The fixtures also add heightened excitement to the club's regular nights, and they save promoters the time and cost of bringing in additional effects. The new fixtures are two Robe ColorSpot 250 automated fixtures, two Wash 250s, two High End Systems Technobeams, and two bars of six CP63 PAR cans for the stage rig. Pre-existing equipment included eight ColorSpot 250s, two Wash 250s, four HES Dataflashes, two more bars of PAR cans, an Avolites Azure Shadow, a 24-channel Anytronics dimmer, and a six-channel switchpack. The balcony houses four more Technobeams, and there is also a full color laser on hand.
The new rig is especially vital in recent months, as the venue has started a new live band night that showcases the next generation of rockers, thrashers, head bangers, and more. Encompassing five levels, La Scala contains a box office, three bars, a lounge, and the performance space. Before the new rig was installed, the in-house LDs, Smith and Charlie Russell, had to take lights off the rig over the dance floor and move them to the stage area, the lighting version of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
“We thought it was worth it to invest in our own kit, so acts wouldn't have to bring their own equipment in to the actual venue,” Russell says. “We've got a good enough in-house kit to run it for any band that comes in here.” He added that there are two flights of metal stairs that have to be climbed in order to get into La Scala, so the bands' crews are especially grateful for the new rig.
Prior to the new fixtures, La Scala was lit strictly as a dance club, Russell says, and then it had six HES Technobeams. “We built a scaffold unit at the back of the stage so we could backlight bands,” Russell says. “Now, we can jump between having a good club light system and a good stage system at the same time, which means less maintenance for us.”
The Robe 250 Washes and Spots have been vital to ensuring that both the dance floor and the stage remain covered, according to Russell. “They're also easy to move about,” he adds, “so if we want to stick them on the floor, we get even more out of them, and we can scan the crowd. Before, it was much more of a nightclub feel, but it's made a huge difference, and now, we have two or three bands in here a week.”