SUNRISE, FL – While the Grateful Dead celebrated their 50th anniversary last summer with five “Fare Thee Well” stadium shows, true Deadheads knew that in real life “The Music never Stops.” This has been demonstrated loudly and clearly by the sold-out shows being put on throughout the fall and holiday season by Dead & Company, featuring original band members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann. Playing to sold-out audiences, the 10-stop coast-to-coast tour is serving up some tasty new arrangements of classic Dead songs with renowned rock guitarist John Mayer brilliantly filling the role of the departed Jerry Garcia on the guitar and vocals.
Contributing to the immersive experience is a beautiful lightshow anchored around a collection of Nexus 4×1 linear fixtures from CHAUVET Professional provided by Upstaging. Jon Pollak designed the lighting rig, but all the looks were fabricated by longtime veteran jam band LD Chris Ragan. The lighting rig features two off center unsymmetrical arches lined with the Nexus 4-cell COB RGB LED fixtures. When brought to full intensity, the Nexus panels easily illuminate entire arenas on the tour, which included a Halloween stop at Madison Square Garden.
Divided equally between the two arches, the Nexus units lend an added sense of depth to the area over the stage. The arches that the COB LED fixtures are affixed to draw closer to one another as they rise and eventually cross paths. When this happens, the relative position of the arches to one another changes, with the lower unit suddenly becoming the higher one. Having the brilliantly illuminated Nexus fixtures on the two crossing arches makes this perspective-altering effect all the more intense.
The vibrant color output of the Nexus fixtures and a group of COLORado par-style fixtures (also from CHAUVET Professional) clustered around the base of the arches change to match the centerpiece of the stage, a huge “Steal Your Face” 3D sculpted skeleton head logo with a circular projection screen mounted in the forehead. Flanking this immense structure are two massive vertically oriented walls, which display IMAG images of the band.
Lighting designer Ragan, known as the man behind the lighting looks of bands moe, Government Mule and hip hop star Common, was brought in to run the lighting just a few short weeks before Dead & Company (which includes Allman Brothers’ Oteil Burbridge and Ratdog keyboardist Jeff Chimenti as well as Mayer) started touring. Using a grandMA2 console, he is creating stunning looks that blend vintage Dead psychedelia with eye-popping modern technology.
PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Guthrie