What do you get when you put KISS and Aerosmith out on tour together? The power rock concert event of the year. Sure, but the real reward is the opportunity to see not one but two great lighting designs from two great rock-and-roll LDs. Bryan Hartley (KISS, above) and Jim Chapman (Aerosmith, right) took the term “collaboration” to heart, ending up with one well-designed rig and two unique shows.
The most striking thing about this collaboration is any KISS or Aerosmith fan would never notice it; both performances were fully realized and unique to the band. That's because Hartley and Chapman have long-term associations with their respective bands. “It helped immensely,” says Chapman. “We both know what both our acts really needed.” Hartley agrees: “I knew, going in, the staples of the KISS show — we would have the KISS sign and the guy coming down from the ceiling, the drum riser. Jim knew the staples of the Aerosmith show. So from ‘Go’ we had the must-have list for us both. It saved time.”
Another important fact: both acts were billed equally. “We never looked at one being an opening act,” says Chapman. “We created a grocery list. We both wanted to use Martin Atomic strobes, check; we both wanted to use Wybron color changers, check. Then we came up with the diamond setup and focused on what we wanted to hang in the diamond. We did a lot of tabling and discussing for a good six weeks; we just talked things through.'” The single rig, according to Hartley, was indeed a well-informed and collaborative design: “He did a drawing, I did a drawing, and we looked at them both. That's how we came up with the main structure. Then we worked through what kind of lights and strobes and color changers and so on. Ninety eight percent of the rig is used for both shows; we each have a handful of lights for one show only, but it really is a shared rig. It is really wild to see how different the shows look.”
Speaking about the different looks, Chapman says, “We worked very hard to give each other the full system and the ability to do what his band needed. It has worked really well, I have been really happy with the look and the flow of everything. The one rig allows such different styles and looks. It doesn't get repetitious and you don't sit there thinking ‘I've already seen this a few minutes ago.’” Hartley says that the gear, in particular the moving lights, allow for this kind of collaboration without sacrificing individual look or style: “There is a lot to say about the flexibility of today's equipment.You used to have to come up with a design, with trusses, that were unique, but today it is all in the moving lights. It's like a guitar — no two musicians will play it the same.”
Certain choices were made to accommodate the two designers. (Gear was supplied by LSD/Fourth Phase.) The biggest one was to use the High End Systems Wholehog II console. Hartley is a longtime Hog user but for Chapman this was new territory. He called upon the programming services of Dan Cassar. “The great thing about this business,” Chapman says, “is when you get the chance to work with new people — you can be a sponge and pick up a few new things along the way. Dan is really the man; he got me running on the board.” Hartley and Chapman have nothing but praise for the lighting crew. “We use a universal lighting crew, they set up the rig and they know what Bryan needs and is expected and they know what I need and is expected. They haven't missed a beat yet! Great crew, just great,” says Chapman. Hartley adds, “There is one guy who has done the KISS tours before and one guy from previous Aerosmith tours. Just happened to work out that why; it's really kind of cool.”
Chapman always says “The band makes it rock, but we make it roll.” For fans of these legendary acts Hartley and Chapman designed a spectacle that is rock and roll at its very best.