Creating Space for Breaking Benjamin And Alice in Chains

Posted on December 6, 2022

Photo: Todd Kaplan

A Bandit Lites supplied rig anchored by 40 Rogue R2X Wash and three COLORado Solo batten fixtures did double duty for two iconic groups as they toured 30 cities together. In the process they demonstrated their flexibility, as they contributed to shows by Breaking Benjamin and Alice in Chains. Here is how they did it:

Breaking Benjamin
Fans didn’t stay in their seats for long when Breaking Benjamim took the stage on this tour. The multi-platinum rockers from Pennsylvania opened their show with a bang, or make that a blaze, when they appeared against an intense pyro display and broke into a full throttled rendition of “Blow Me Away,” their thunderous and menacing hit from Halo 2.

“Blow Me Away” away spoke for itself,” said Tyler Veneziano, who designed the band’s lightshow. “I wanted this song to look moody, with dancing pixel patterns for the verses and pre-chorus, then suddenly become explosive and bright for the chorus.”

Photo: Todd Kaplan

Helping Veneziano create this level of energy for the opening song as well as the entire 16-song set were CHAUVET Professional Rogue R2X Wash and COLORado Solo Batten fixtures, which, like the rest of the rig, were supplied by Bandit Lites.

Veneziano used the same rig for Breaking Benjamin as lighting designers Scott Holthaus and Cort Lawrence (along with VD Leif Dixon), worked with for Alice in Chains. However, the two design teams created distinctly different looks thanks to the rig’s versatility.

“Scott’s rig had fingers staggered with video panels that was quite low on the upstage end, which they used to incorporate some very beautiful looks into their show,” said Veneziano. “Their stage was also enclosed by beads. For my set we matched all of the fingers at the same height with a slight rake up on the down stage end. Our upstage trim was much higher than it was for Alice in Chains. This gave us room for our floor pods upstage left and upstage right. Carter Hopkins, the Bandit Lites crew chief, and Samuel Morgan, the dimmer tech, along with lighting techs Kristen Armstrong and Benjamin Boney, deserve a lot of credit for making this versatility possible for both design teams.”

Photo: Todd Kaplan

Supporting Breaking Benjamin with what he described as “big and bold looks,” Veneziano had a three-tiered torms, each with nine beams create crossing patterns over the stage, and direct light into the crowed. “This band likes to see the crowd singing along, so there was an ample amount of audience lighting,” he said.

In keeping with the raw power of Veneziano’s overall look, he backed the band with intense lighting and an up lit metal mesh covering that he covered with Breaking Benjamin gobos. “We didn’t go with a big video wall on this show,” he said. “Our vision was to go with a more industrial backdrop with the mesh covering and bright lights. I think that was more suited to what this show was all about.”

Photo: Todd Kaplan

Helping to add an extra pop to the stage’s background were the rig’s 40 Rogue R2X Wash fixtures. The RGBW movers were mounted on six floor pods and arranged in two evenly divided rows, which they shared with moving beams. Drawing on the Rogue units’ wide (7.3ﹾ to 64.3ﹾ) zoom range, Veneziano was able to vary his background looks.

Alice in Chains
Alice in Chains hadn’t performed a live concert in three years when the band took the stage on August 10 at The Star Lake Pavilion; but as the fans outside Pittsburgh discovered that night, it was well worth the wait.

This was obvious right from the start, as the multi-platinum quartet jumped right in with a head-banging rendition of their iconic early hit “Again.” They wasted no time in following up with stinging guitar solos, wah-wah pedal licks, and crunchy, grungy tube-amp sounds running through their 15-song set.

Photo: Todd Kaplan

Keeping pace with them, and capturing their sounds visually, was an intense, multi-faceted lighting design by Scott Holthaus with assistance from Cort Lawrence. Like the music it supported, the Holthaus-Lawrence lightshow started out with a bang. Moments after AIC walked on to a darkened stage, illuminated only with hints of deep blue light, the rig erupted, led by the five raked LED video fingers over its center. Rising as they went from upstage to downstage, these fingers served as intense illumination sources in their own right, in addition to being used to display a wide variety of images and breakout, patterns. Content was created by Surround and run by VD Leaf Dixon.

At times, these images moved across the video fingers, as if they were keys on a piano. This not only reflected the beat of the music, it also helped create a sense of time and space over the stage.

“The fingers were our main design concept,” said Holthaus. “Our video director and content creator deserve a great deal of credit. We relied on the video fingers to create a forced perspective vanishing point. Also, I really loved how the fingers delineated space and how they and the stark simplicity of the lights supported one another. Working the fingers and the lights, we created simple lines of repeating patterns.”

Photo: Todd Kaplan

Contributing to that light were the rig’s Rogue R2X Wash and COLORado Solo Batten IP65-rated fixtures. Arranged behind and to either side of the video fingers, the RGBW moving washes helped to create a blow-through effect backdrop, their wide zoom range (7.3ﹾ to 64.3ﹾ) allowing coverage areas to be changed for varied looks.

Throughout the show, Holthaus kept the color scheme simple, sticking to white with bold splashes of a single hue. “Power in simplicity,” he said. “We never had more than two colors at once. There was a much greater impact this way.”

Adding a sense of proximity between the band and the audience, which added to the impact of the show, was the stage’s beaded curtain. To accentuate this critical scenic piece, Holthaus had it lit with three COLORado Solo Batten IP65 linear fixtures. “We found them to be the perfect choice for lighting the curtain,” he said of the RGBAW washes.

Photo: Todd Kaplan

The design team also enhanced the mood on stage through the adroit use of dark spaces and shadows. “It was so important to create dark space with this band,” said Holthaus. “Their music commands darkness between the light.”

Of course, the metal tinged grunge that defines Alice in Chains also calls for some searing intensity that fills the entire venue. They got both on this tour, and then some.

Photo: Todd Kaplan