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Cody James and Chauvet Professional Fast Moves for Killswitch Engage Atonement Tour
USA – It’s a fundamental truth: for a lighting design to work, it has to be in step with the music on stage. When lighting Grammy nominated metal masters Killswitch Engage, this means slamming your foot down on the accelerator and never really letting up. Just ask Cody James!
The long-time designer for KSE, James describes the process this way: “Killswitch on stage has no brake pedal. Even during tuning breaks, it's a full-on experience the entire time. The lights have to reflect that. When the band is coming at you at 100mph, so should everything around them on stage.”
James got to reach these speeds and then some, when lighting the band’s recently concluded 32-city Atonement Tour 2022. Powering his Chauvet Professional anchored rig with a ChamSys MagicQ MQ250M and extra wing, he unleashed a torrent of rapid fire lights in support of the hard-driving quintet as they played songs that spanned their 20-year career.
Innovative strobing played a big part in James’ design vision for this busked show. Reflecting the band’s intense sound, he conjured up a varied mix of bold strobing looks, mixing in different colours and coming at the stage and audience from every conceivable angle with bright bursts of light.
“Strobing comes with the territory when you light this group,” said James. “Strobing in colour is really out of necessity if I were to go to white every time I wanted to strobe during the show, I might as well build the entire show in full open white. I strobe from different directions, because I want everyone in the building to experience the show the same way. whether they’re standing directly in front of the stage, or on the side.”
Sometimes, it seemed as if James was strobing every fixture in his rig, a collection of lights supplied by JDI Productions that included eight Maverick MK1 Hybrid and an equal number of MK1 Spot fixtures, as well as 12 Rogue FX-B units, ten Rogue R1 BeamWashes, and eight Strike 4 multi-format fixtures.
“I had a single MK1 Hybrid and MK1 Spot in a five-foot HUD Truss on either downstage corner of the stage that I used for side light,” detailed James. “The 12 other pieces of these fixtures were upstage in three double stacked eight-foot HUD Truss sections. The MK1 Spots rode in the bottom row and the MK1 Hybrids ran across the top. I used the six spots for a lot of back light looks and the six Hybrids did most of the aerial work.
“As for the Rogues, I had the FX-Bs mostly upstage to please the crowd with eye candy,” continued James. “The R1 BeamWash were in every spot I could fit them. I used them mainly as my stage wash to make sure I always had a decent amount of color saturation.”
On the subject of color, James went from bold mixes, such as purple and turquoise to smooth monochromatic looks, sometimes split open by brilliant shafts of white light. With the band’s newer hits, he went with more stark colour combinations, while sticking with more classic two-tone looks for the older songs.
From his own perspective, James was especially pleased with the white flyout he created for the show’s last sing along, “End of Heartache,” every night. Another special moment came at the end of “Signal Fire” when called up a gobo scroll, one of the few such patterned looks in the show.
The gobo patterns stood out all the more, because they were rare and unexpected,” said James. “I try to keep things fresh. This reflects the spontaneity of the band.”
One of the great things about busking a show by Killswitch Engage notes James is that “you never know where they’re going to go.” But one thing can always be counted on, wherever they’re going, they’ll get there very, very fast.
18th March 2022
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