US rapper Childish Gambino recently wowed audiences at a one-off 02 Academy Brixton gig, with lighting designer Sarah Landau delivering a stunning show design. In testament to their longevity and robust technology, the design was complemented by the classic yet versatile Philips Vari-Lite VL2000 Spot and VL3000 Wash luminaires.
Landau worked alongside touring lighting director/operator Christian Lincoln to specify 18 VL3000 Wash luminaires and 16 VL2000 Spots. Supplied by Siyan Ltd, the luminaires performed key roles within the design and crucially worked well alongside the extensive visual element.
“Childish Gambino’s show is very theatrical, not a typical rap concert,” explains Landau. “The visual design is focused on projections – four 20K projectors mapped onto an upstage screen, a downstage scrim, side columns, and stage set pieces. The Vari-Lite luminaires illuminated the artists without obstructing or washing out any of the projections, as well as matched their colours and textures to create a cohesive environment onstage.”
For Childish Gambino’s US tour, Landau and Lincoln had originally specified VL3500 Wash luminaires, chosen for their framing capabilities. However because the one-off Brixton show clashed with Reading and Leeds festivals, the team had to use the VL3000 Wash instead.
“The VL3000 Wash luminaires cloned over perfectly and by just editing the fixtures’ pan/tilt we could avoid the projection surfaces,” says Lincoln. “We also love that the VL3000 Wash luminaire’s dimming is extremely consistent regardless of chipset numbers and 0-30% actually exists.”
Six VL3000 Wash luminaires were rigged on a downstage truss, with another six on vertical floor towers to the left and right of the stage, and six on the ground. The VL2000 Spot luminaires were rigged on the upstage trusses, with Lincoln choosing them to match sidelights, work as a wash, and also key light the band with spot lighting during solos.
“Again the dimmer curve allowed me to keep these fixtures at low level but still read on stage and not wash out the video. I also copied over movement and intensity effects from the VL3500 Wash luminaires to the VL2000 Spot luminaires, which was very consistent,” says Lincoln. “Overall, I’m extremely impressed by the versatility of both the VL3000 Wash and VL2000 Spot. They can be used both subtly for more theatrical moments, aided by the wide zoom, precise colour mixing and dimmer curve, or boldly, in typical rock concert mode, utilising the fast shutters, bright optics, and smooth movements. Childish Gambino’s show incorporates both of these atmospheres in its visual design, so the Vari-Lite luminaires were an easy choice. I’m also impressed by how they are from older product lines and yet are still incredibly adaptable tools.”
Childish Gambino’s tour continues this autumn with dates throughout the USA.