Before heading out on a world tour that launched in mid-March in Australia and stretches though August in the US, The Fray performed 12 shows in small venues like Webster Hall in New York (where they filmed the show) earlier this year with a rather unusual lighting rig of over 50 assorted floor lamps, table lamps, desk lamps, and chandeliers with 50W and 100W household bulbs. Joel Wojcik, touring manager for inovation productions, devised the lighting. “The idea started with having a more intimate feel and warmth,” he explains. “I was trying to get away from the LED/moving light package that most bands at this level would bring to a venue this size. Also, aside from being an actual light source, the lamps also acted as a set and helped add depth.”
Wojcik says his team has often used standard light bulbs in some way for designs, originally on a show in the round where they couldn’t bring in a full touring rig. “We then opted to buy tons of zip cord and 60 lamp sockets to hang bulbs all over the stage,” says the designer, who started working with The Fray in the fall of 2006. “Oddly enough, I had done some advancing on a show for them earlier that year and had heard through the grapevine that they were going to finally have a tour with a lighting designer. One thing led to another, and here we are today.”
For this tour, Wojcik says his design idea spawned from a music video for “Promises” by singer/songwriter Badly Drawn Boy, where he is in a studio playing a piano surrounded by table lamps, rope lights, and fluorescent tubes. Both Wojcik and the band members felt this kind of approach was great, especially with the venue sizes. “This really isn’t something you see in a touring application,” he says. “If you look at YouTube, there are a million videos of people having this sort of idea in some form or another. Is it original? No, but it definitely goes against everything that people would expect in a live show.”
The theatrical fixtures augmenting the lighting included six ETC Source Four ellipsoidals as frontlight and another six from the back, along with five Martin Professional Atomic 3000 strobes fitted with lampshades. For the show at Webster Hall, Wojcik added 15 Mole-Richardson 2,000W Sky Pans for a back wall, with control via an MA Lighting grandMA console, an ETC SmartPack 12-way dimmer pack, Leprecon HP distributed dimmer packs, and Spectrum MLD Distro. “The bitmap effects engine on the grandMA was great to program the household lamps,” says Wojcik.
For the filming at Webster Hall, Wojcik notes, “We had lights everywhere to help make the shots work and produce something that, in the end, looked and worked great. The best part for me comes down to the fact that we did it with the tools that we find in our living rooms, dining rooms, desks, and office spaces. I am not trying to offend the moving light and LED manufacturers of the world. I’m just taking a dare as far as one can take it.”