The band Barenaked Ladies spent most of 1999 touring to support its latest release, Stunt. Featuring the monster hits "One Week" and "It's All Been Done," the CD propelled the Canadian band to the top of the US pop charts.
LD Brent "Ski" Lipp has been with the band for the entire ride, beginning with the theatre dates early in the year. Though the first leg didn't have a specific theme, once the band began its summer shed tour, the show's looks grew along with the venues. Using the clown image from the cover of Stunt as a starting point, the tour obliquely touched on a carnival-like atmosphere.
"We had a wide and quite downstage set, and for three quarters of show, it's 10' high," Lipp explains. "So I designed the lighting rig with this setup in mind. The backdrop was pretty straight-ahead, but downstage of that is a 6' riser that spans the set. Then we had a carousel in the center that was done on the band's request just to get a carnival feel going."
Tour manager Craig Finley came up with the set design. "We were both involved with it, but Mr. Finley loves to do the set work and then he leaves the lighting to me," Lipp says. "That works out great."
Finley also came up with the huge BNL marquee sign. "The band truly loves that sign," Lipp says. "Ian Gordan (of Westsun) and myself put it together using all MR-16 bulbs. You can do all kinds of different chases with it, which is good, and it's very bright. We only use it two times during the night and then get rid of it. It makes more of an impact that way."
In keeping with the circus look, the lighting rig features some colorful lanterns. "They have one 500W incandescent bulb each with a diffusion gel all the way--it's just a white frost, really. It's all very low-tech, but they work just fine. We tried to use those as little as possible as well. We flew a couple of them in and four of them were behind one of the kabuki drops."
Helping Lipp out on tour are lighting crew chief Mark Olesen, FOH programmer Todd Martin and dimmer technician Jennifer Bernard. Westsun was the tour's main lighting contractor.
"I chose to use Cyberlights and Studio Colors as the main light sources because I don't use color wheels at all," Lipp says. "I always color-mix, so even on a quick change, I'll never use a color wheel--even if it's in the light."
While the band is known for its onstage antics and hilarious improvisations, the members are also very interested in all aspects of the show's design. "The band is absolutely involved with the show's look," Lipp says. "They like to know what's going on and they always come to me if they have a special cue they'd like to do. That's great; I really like the interaction."
Otherwise, the LD stuck with a fairly pastel palette. "That'll probably change next tour just to get into something new," Lipp says. "We also have some CityColors for our cyc wash and they worked out quite well for the four different backdrops we had in the show."
The band is scheduled to tour through the beginning of January.