Summer Tour 2019, Part Two: Designing Goo Goo Dolls

OtherAugust 20, 2019Livedesign

Popular American rock bands Train and Goo Goo Dolls, known for Billboard hits like “Drops of Jupiter” and “Iris,” respectively, recently wrapped up their co-headlining Summer Tour 2019 with special guest Allen Stone on August 17 Xfinity Center. Check out an in-depth look at Train's production design by Robb Jibson of So Midwest, Inc.

Dan Hardiman, Goo Goo Dolls’ UK-based lighting designer for the past nine years, met with Jibson last fall to discuss workflow and equipment needs so that he could work it into the overall lighting, video, and audio package, provided by LMG Touring. Once Jibson and Train finalized their design in spring 2019, Hardiman modelled it in wysiwyg and produced renderings to show Goo Goo Dolls how they would integrate with Train’s design.

Related: Summer Tour 2019, Part One: Designing Train

Since Goo Goo Dolls performed first, often beginning their set in daylight, the design had to look intentional. “Our design had to load in and out in as short a time as possible, and it couldn’t look as if we were playing in front of another band’s show,” explains Hardiman. With a fast changeover time, everything had to be pre-cabled on dollys. Truck space was also necessary to enable all lighting fixtures to permanently live on risers that could roll straight off stage into the truck.

Hardiman needed a stage design that would make Train’s plexiglass dance floor look part of Goo Goo Dolls’ set. The result was a clever fabrication by Gallagher Staging where BullNose risers overhung the dance floor by two feet and a central riser platform connected to Train’s floor, seamlessly interrogating the two designs into one scenic element. “Gallaghers was sent several of the LED blinders by LMG, so they could fabricate touring mounts for the underside of the BullNoses,” explains Hardiman. “We spent a couple of days in tech rehearsals mounting all the lights to the risers and skids.” Everything rolled straight onto the stage.

“The design also had to look as good in ambient light as it does in darkness, hence the [Vari-Lite] VL6000 beams, which look great just sitting there,” says the lighting designer. “I did also enjoy using the color wheel oscillation modes in the VL6000 Beams as this created exciting aerial effects without resorting to strobing fixtures. The lights have to produce a visible point of light on a stage floor in the mid-day sun or else we can’t focus. That was achieved with the [Robe] Mega-Pointes.”

Hardiman had time with the floor light package in the US, where he also used wysiwyg to show the band what Train’s flown rig would look like. However, he only had one day with the full lighting rig before the first show. “The main challenge for Amphitheatre touring is focusing. So I spent time interrogating the programming, so that just the essentials are focused each day, using an iPad on stage. That way, it can be done in direct sunlight and can be achieved in the 30 minutes we have for line-check daily.” In addition to the Vari-Lite VL6000 beams, the floor package featured TMB Solaris LED Flares for wash effects to match the flown blinders and strobe effects and LED 2-light blinders for chasing effects and to emphasize the bullnose risers. Hardiman manually triggered all lighting and video from a High End Systems Hog 4 console.

The video looks were designed to replicate real set pieces and special effects. The pre-show began with a virtual red curtain dropping into place and billowing in the wind. When the band entered, a kabuki drop revealed the lighting trusses and a '50s Vegas style Goo Goo Dolls logo sign. “The early show looks are bold, using a restricted color palette, so that they can react in daylight,” says Hardiman. “Later in the show, as the sun sets, more subtle combinations are used. During ‘Iris,’ we use CGI Pyro to blend with the lighting and atmospherics.”

Melt Creative created the bulk of the video content, working closely with Hardiman to storyboard the visuals. “The video was created in loops that are triggered at appropriate points in each song,” says Hardiman. “I sent Melt Creative a spreadsheet of all the lighting cues, so we could work together in assigning content to cues. I re-lit the show to match the video stills they sent, so there were minimal changes needed once we were in band rehearsals, as the final footage was delivered.” LMG provided two Barco Catalyst media servers, with Catalyst Software running on trash-can Macs with Matrox TripleHead2Go DP display adaptors synchronizing the outputs. “The TripleHead2Gos are really clever, as they synchronize multiple DVI outputs so there is no visual lag when mapping a single surface across multiple outputs.”

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