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Eric Cathcart Thinks Big for Greta Van Fleet with Chauvet Professional
USA – Hung on five 30’ truss fingers that rise at a 30 degree angle as they go from upstage toward the audience, the Chauvet Professional Nexus Aw 7x7 fixtures at the heart of Greta Van Fleet’s lighting rig suggest the feeling of a plane taking flight. It is an apt metaphor for the hard rockers from Frankenmuth, Michigan, who have risen from obscurity to the heights of stardom with the speed of supersonic jet.
Eric Cathcart, the band’s lighting designer, has a firsthand appreciation of this dizzying trajectory. The owner of Bigtime Lighting Design, Cathcart was with the quartet on some of their earliest touring a little over a year ago. Back then everything, including lighting, audio gear and the backline (not to mention the band), fit on a single bus and trailer. Today, a Grammy Award win and a slew of No. 1 hits later, the band’s caravan is considerably larger at five vehicles.
Cathcart’s rig, with its 100 Nexus panels, which, like the rest of the fixtures, were supplied by Primer Global Productions, sprang to life with the kind of sudden intensity that’s reflective of the band’s career path as well as its power driving music.
“Honestly, the Nexus 7x7s were the first piece of the puzzle in this design,” said Cathcart. “We were set to roll with just an augmented version of the floor package that we used last year, when at the last minute I was told that the guys wanted to do a complete redesign. They had seen the Chauvet Nexus somewhere along the way, and the lights kind of caught their eyes.
“After looking at pretty much the same thing for a year, I was all for a complete redesign,” continued Cathcart. “Once this was agreed to, I wanted to do something bold with the panels, so I decided to use them to create straight lines of white lighting running from 10’ off the ground upstage to 30’ high downstage. Once I settled on that concept, the rest of the design fell into place.”
Playing the narrow warm white beams of the Nexus panels off against the dark space around the band members, Cathcart is creating an exciting sense of expectation on stage. “I didn’t want to use the truss just to hold the lights,” he said. “My goal was to come up with a geometrically interesting structure that would engage the crowd. A lot of negative space is included in my design; this allows me to get some stadium-sized looks even at a mid-level amphitheatre show.”
Greta Van Fleet’s March of the Peaceful Army tour, which began 7th May in Miami and runs to 15th October in Philadelphia (with sojourns to Europe and Australia in between), is stopping at its share of amphitheatres, as well as arenas and festivals. Cathcart is adjusting his rig accordingly. “The finger trusses are raked in arenas and sheds,” he said. “When we do festivals, I chop 10’ off of the fingers and hang them vertically behind the house rig.”
Cathcart is also mounting Nexus Aw 7x7 fixtures on the four 10’ towers he positions between his truss fingers. He uses these units to create evocative aerial effects that complement the core truss structure, making it seem even larger.
“I am carrying an entire lighting rig this tour, as opposed to the entire last year with the band,” said Cathcart. “This allows me to program what is in the air and tie it together with the floor package, which opens up a lot of creative options. I’m also very lucky to have Greg Haygood, Jason Wakefield and Tyler Scott, three great lighting techs, out there with me. They’re doing a fantastic job, even on those days when we have to shoehorn the rig, move things around to make as much of the rig fit as possible.”
Although he is out with the band running the boards on its current tour, Cathcart plans to step away temporarily after Greta Van Fleet’s summer run in Europe. “I will be handing their reins over to a lighting director for a bit when we come back from overseas so I can work on another project,” he said. “However, I will be back! This is a great group of people, and it’s been an amazing ride, so we want to keep it going.”
21st June 2019
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