Universal peace may not be the first concept one associates with heavy metal, but Disturbed is a unique band. Vocalist David Draiman puts his beliefs into his lyrics and preaches them during the show, the band's Music as a Weapon 2 tour, in support of its second album, Believe. The set, designed by Paul Busch, resembles an ancient temple or a medieval church, with staircases on each side of an upstage platform all made to look like hewn stone, a red crushed velvet drape across the back, and a large metal sign that combines symbols of four of the world's major religions.
Hailing from Chicago, the band stormed onto the metal scene with their first album in 2000 and toured for almost two years. Last year, the band's manager, Dougie Thompson, was scouting lighting designers and caught Rob Zombie's show, designed by Sonny Satterfield and Thom Roberts, collectively known as The House of Blue Lights.
For this tour, Satterfield and Roberts “wanted to build a show that let the set be the focal point,” Satterfield says, “yet have the light show exciting enough to enhance everything. There's just three straight trusses and a couple of side trusses, but we programmed a lot of advanced chases.” Satterfield also notes that Thompson and the band contributed ideas. “Dougie was the bass player for Supertramp, and he got involved with their production and lighting design. Also, Dan Donegan, the guitarist, and David, the singer, have input, so it's a ‘family’ thing.”
The rig features a mix of moving lights from different manufacturers because Satterfield feels “it gives a lot of depth to the stage, a lot of dynamics to the show.” Roberts says, “There's times when you have to whip the lights across the stage to pick up a guitar solo or a bass lick, so we put three [High End Systems] Cyberlights® on each side of the stage.” They are using Martin Professional MAC 2000s as the primary hard-edged light because “it's extremely bright and it seldom has a problem,” Satterfield says. “The MAC 2000 wash light is great because it'll do a wide wash but will also narrow down to almost a ray beam, so that's a big advantage,” he adds. The High End Studio Color® is one of Satterfield's favorites “because it strobes really well, it's got great color, and it's just a reliable light.”
In addition to the automated workhorses, there are hidden instruments that accent the set. Coemar Panorama Cyc Powers on the floor upstage enhance the symbol. There are Thomas 9-lights for audience lighting and Pro-Can 8-lights under the runway and drum riser with Wybron Coloram II color changers. Plus, “there's a ring of PAR-36 ACLs mounted in the drum kit, and they shoot up little bars of light,” Satterfield says. “That was one of Dougie's ideas.”
This tour marks the first time Satterfield has used the MA Lighting grandMA console. “I've been an [LSD] Icon operator for about seven years, and I enjoy the Icon Console a lot. I grew up with an Avolites board. The grandMA is the best of both worlds: It runs the show like the Avo, but you can set it up like the Icon. It's a smart board; it thinks for you. You give it a command, it knows what you're talking about. With other consoles, you have to edit every cue in a chase to change a color, but with the grandMA you can merge it in with the push of a button.”
Upstaging is the tour lighting supplier. “The [Tomcat Swing Wing] truss system is amazing,” Satterfield says. “We've had zero problems with lights. The system goes up very quickly: Ron [Schilling, crew chief], Soline [Jorge Velasquez, electrician], and Jason [Bullock, lighting tech] are very professional; they get the system up and it looks great every day. The company is fantastic; they have great technical support. I just couldn't be happier,” Satterfield concludes.
Other equipment includes Martin Atomic strobes, Diversitronics strobes, Altman MR-16 striplights, Reel EFX DF-50 hazers, High End F-100 foggers, and ETC Sensor dimmers, plus a grandMA light as backup. Disturbed toured the US with opening acts Unloco, Taproot, and Chevelle into early May, after which they did a handful of European shows. They will tour with the Ozzfest this summer.