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Chip Self Sets Lighting Course for Pale Divine Show with Chauvet Professional
USA – Are there “right” and “wrong” ways to use a lighting fixture? There certainly are when safety and product integrity issues are concerned, but when it comes to how a fixture is worked into a design and where it is positioned on a rig, Chip Self prefers to follow his own rules. Creativity, he believes, tends to flourish more intensely that way.
“The very first thing I do with every fixture is find a way to use it ‘wrong’,” said the owner of Logic Systems. “For example, I find that traditional, lighting angles get really predictable and boring very quickly, so I strive to be unpredictable. It keeps the audience guessing, and interested.”
Self put this independent-minded design philosophy into practice recently at the iconic Pageant Theatre when he deployed a collection of Chauvet Professional fixtures in distinctive ways to light St. Louis rock legends Pale Divine.
The concert marked the 30th anniversary of the release of Pale Devine’s first album. It also saw the band reunite with its former lead guitarist Richard Fortus of Guns ‘N Roses fame. Self reflected the personas of the artists on stage by accentuating each with unique light angles, casting a rainbow of colours over outstretched arms one moment, then lighting the guitarist upward from the deck the next.
“Extreme angles create extreme shadows,” explained Self. “This can be very powerful in adding texture. In this case, it also maintained a look and feel that reflected the history of a band that I go back with nearly 30 years.”
Unique colour combinations, along with some stark monochromatic washes punctuated by intense shafts of white light also gave the show a singularly edgy mood that pushed past barriers. “The music of Pale Divine can be pretty emotionally complicated,” said Self. “I tried to create a visual in keeping with the mood of each song, but without distracting from it. I find it interesting, and a personal challenge, to see just how far I can stretch a set of fixtures to achieve as diverse a range of looks as possible.”
The fixtures providing Self with his eclectic mix of colour washes were mostly from Chauvet Professional. These included eight Maverick Storm 1 Washes, eight Rogue R2X Washes, and six Rogue R2 Washes. “We had the Storm fixtures in the air and the R2 Washes on six five-foot sections of truss configured as ground pods, which gave us a lot of angle options,” said Self. “We also used the R2X fixtures from the house rig for front lighting, so we could saturate the stage.”
Adding motion and depth to the stage were six Maverick MK1 Spot fixtures flown on the house FOH truss, and another six hanging from the upper grid over the stage, which created rotating gobos on the backdrop and deck. “For me, it’s always about layers and texture,” said Self. “When there’s no video wall, subtle projections on the set or backdrop allow me to add visual layers, and create, or emphasise depth. It can be a very powerful tool.”
Self’s flexible, out-of-the-ordinary design gave the show a sense of spontaneity, which was fitting given the sudden obstacles encountered as it was being brought into being. Originally slated for New Year’s Eve, the show had to be cancelled because of increasing COVID concerns. It was rescheduled for February, and then a major snowstorm closed down the city during the two programming days. Still Self and his team, including Ryan Lilly persevered and brought an inimitable show to life.
Looking at the widespread praise earned by the show, Self expressed gratitude to Pale Divine, saying that he was “grateful to the guys in the band” [Michael Schaerer, Richard Fortus, Dan Angenend and Greg Miller] for the faith they had in him.
“They let me run with pretty much any crazy idea that popped into my head,” he said. Knowing Self as they do, these musicians, like everyone familiar with his work, realized that his “crazy ideas” can lead to some very good places, even if they break a few rules along the way.
photos: Sea Turtle Creative
10th March 2022
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