Graeme Flegenheimer, owner of El Club in Detroit, Michigan, fell in love with music at a young age. That may explain his diverse taste in music and the wide variety of acts that play at the popular live music venue, which has featured a customizable Elation Professional lighting rig since opening in 2016.
“I pride myself on El Club having an eclectic calendar,” says Flegenheimer, who has a background as a music publicist. “There’s not a typical night here. It’s always changing and Elation is able to meet every requirement of the artist coming in here and capture the vibe of the evening.”
Since opening in May of 2016, El Club has arguably become Detroit’s hottest nighttime venue with a mixture of acts that is attracting a wide audience. “It's really an amazing room that's giving a massive high-end light show experience to underground artists in a 300 capacity venue,” stated Adam LaBay of Future Weapons Laser & Lighting Design, who chose the Elation lights for the venue. “There's nothing quite like it and it has a very unique aesthetic.”
Built in 1950 as a banquet hall with an adjacent bar that dates from 1921, Flegenheimer renovated the space by restoring much of the interior and exterior of the building then completed the project by installing a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system.
El Club’s Elation lighting rig is as diverse as the acts that play beneath it: 12 ACL 360 Bar™ LED moving bar effects, 12 compact ACL 360i™ beam effects, 8 Elar Ex Quad Par HP™ LED lights, 6 Sniper 2R™ effect lights, 6 Colour Pendant™ LED color-changing downlights, and 8 Protron 3K™ LED strobes, all run from a HedgeHog 4S lighting console. An Antari HZ-350™ hazer and Antari Z-500 II™ fog machine provide the mid-air projection canopy and fog effects.
“The goal of the lighting of the space is a reflection of the whole club,” Flegenheimer says. “I wanted everything to have an artistic statement.” When building the club, the owner worked with Adam LaBay and Taran Allen, who had built him a number of custom lighting rigs over the years in LA for special events. He invited them to build a custom rig for El Club and gave them free reign on the design. “I wanted to make a statement with a versatile rig unlike anything ever seen in a club this size,” he said. “I wanted something beautiful and they delivered.”
After the lighting was installed and Flegenheimer saw the rig in action on the first show, he says he was sold on the quality and versatility of the system. So are the various artists who play there. “When bands see what we have in the rig they’ll often leave their lighting in their truck, or just bring part of it in and plug into the system,” he said. “To me that speaks volumes about what Elation lights can provide. They can eliminate the need for a touring band to bring up their full lighting rig.”
Acts that play El Club are also pleased with the customization of the system that LaBay and Allen have designed, Flegenheimer says. “It really allows for a freedom that they’re not used to. For bands to walk into the space and have a lighting rig that has the customization we provide, they’re thrilled because it just enhances what is being presented through their music or art on stage. The amount of flexibility the Elation lights have provided in terms of creating a moody, gothic vibe to a full-on strobing dance floor party to an epic rock 'n' roll show, is incredible. I’m super pleased.”
Flegenheimer states that press reviews and social media comments on the lighting have been good, but even more than that is the energy the lighting system brings. “There’s a lot more symbiotic nature between the audience and the artist on stage and I think the lights really tie that all together and really create that vibe,” he concludes. “I’m happy with what we have. It does everything we need and more.”