Smaller is better. At least, according to LD Jim Pettinato, when describing the different lighting systems he designed for the Indigo Girls' latest tour. "They're out as a duo now; they dropped the band," Pettinato explains. "We changed the system a lot because with the band we had a considerably bigger rig."

The LD's first design included 15 sections of pre-rigged trussing with PAR cans, which were augmented by Vari*Lite(R) automated luminaires. "It was a decent-sized rig, but when they said they were going down to the duo, I figured it could be cool to design a concentrated rig around them."

So Pettinato shrunk the system down to eight sections of pre-rigged truss with PAR cans, eight Vari*Lite VL2C(TM) spot luminaires, eight 6x12 profile spots, and a Vari*Lite Artisan(R) console for control. "It's the smallest rig I've ever toured with, and I'm having an absolute ball with it," he says. "We did a little box right over the Girls. They stand about 3' to 4' apart onstage, so we built a two-section, per side box and turned it on a 90 degree angle so it's like a diamond. Each side of the diamond has a section that is dropped down 3' from the other one. Half of the diamond is suspended under the other half, so we pick it up on four points on two opposing sections. We number them 1, 2, 3, and 4 in a clockwise formation, so sections one and three are picked up with motors, and sections two and four we underhang with black spansets. Once it's all up in a theatre against a black backdrop, and we put truss toners on it (we do that once or twice a night), it looks like it's just floating there."

Pettinato has been more than pleased with the results. "All the corners are soft now and everything moves or is flexible," he explains. "It has a very free-form look. From a creative standpoint, their music is very rewarding--there's a lot to work with there," Pettinato continues. "They give me a set list every night, but they usually don't adhere to it. It's been very much like working with the Spin Doctors and Joan Osbourne, which is so much fun. You certainly don't get into a rut."

To ensure his ability to create always-different visual dynamics, the LD relies heavily on his favorite luminaire. "I love the VL2Cs--I have yet to run out of effects to try with them," Pettinato says. "I really use them more like ellipsoidals on this show, although obviously I can reposition and change gobos and colors on them. The Girls don't move a whole lot, so static looks work really well for them--you don't need to have a lot going on. The truth is, they don't even need a light show--I am disposable. The audience's attention is completely riveted on them."

Helping Pettinato on the road is crew chief Rod "Red" Gibson. "Red's been with the band and he's just amazing," says Pettinato. "He knows the band so well, he was really good to bounce ideas off." Lighting Technologies is the tour's main lighting contractor; Mike Walko is head electrician. The tour's spring leg ended last month and the Indigo Girls will once again be joining the Lilith Fair this summer.