For Canadian shows celebrating the 10th anniversary of Protest the Hero’s “Fortress” album, lighting operator/programmer, Michael ‘Herk’ Herkimer, deployed a comprehensive suite of Elation lighting fixtures. Provided by Hamilton-based Soundbox Productions of Canada, the rig was comprised exclusively of Elation ACL 360 Matrix™ panels, Cuepix Battens™, Fuze Pars™ and ZW19s™.
To say Herk maintains a busy schedule is an understatement. In mid-October 2018 he’d been touring for roughly 29 months, splitting his time between Rise Against, Billy Talent and Protest the Hero (PTH). With his previous knowledge of the PTH gig, Herk knew he’d require a lighting rig that was economical and utilitarian, with every fixture offering a high degree of flexibility. In all, the PTH light show consists of roughly 2,300 cues and Herk’s approach is to build intensity constantly, making the show look bigger and more impressive over the course of the night, with very little in the way of repetition.
Tearing heads off in a unique way
PTH are an extremely heavy band made up of exceptional players, but their music, although complex, is also thoughtful and highly dynamic; not the kind of band, Herk insists, that a 90-minute fit of flashing lights with no letup would work for.
“We really wanted to stay away from that. So you didn’t see any strobes or blinders in this rig. Don’t get me wrong, we wanted to tear people’s heads off, but in a unique way: breakdowns with really fast color changes that switch spectrums to get your eyes to struggle with the image, ripping chases to mimic guitar runs, or by dropping all light on stage so it was just the guitar players for three seconds and then ripping back into the full rig to really knock you down.”
With Elation’s LED product line it was easy to achieve this, he says, while also allowing flexibility in rooms ranging from 400-capacity clubs to 2000-plus seat theatres. The range of venues meant the overall size of the rig was a concern. “The challenge on a tour like this is always, how and what will fit in the trailer? And how many circuits of Edison power can you access at any given venue?”
“Soundbox provided great options for that,” Herk continues. “When you’re running off 4 or 5 circuits in smaller clubs the options are limited, but Soundbox has it down to a science for catering to LDs at this and higher levels.
“Keeping the ACL 360 Matrix in their road cases allowed us to get them into smaller clubs with elevators and small doors and gave us a rigging opportunity by using the cases on end. That worked well for us because we wanted a lot of horsepower that would pack down tight for a trailer.”
The ACL 360 Matrixs (10 in total) were used for various high intensity beam effects and low intensity eye candy in a blind position. Herk explains: “We really went the extra mile in creating odd, pixelated looks so you never saw the full square of the ACL’s panel; We also used them to create shapes and images in the lights – X’s and crosses and eyeballs – aiming the lights straight up and then throwing them out at the audience.”
Four Cuepix Battens were also deployed behind the band to backlight them. “They created an immense amount of output and were also effective for that curtain of light, and for filling in the negative space between the ACL 360s, which are also monsters in terms of output. I was really impressed with the refresh rate on the dimming and color. You’re able to get really speedy stuff out of them that a band like PTH demands.”
In all, four Fuze Pars were deployed as side wash and two as light for the band’s backdrop. “I could rave and rave about the Fuze Par. You don’t really get a drop in lumen output as you widen out the zoom, which makes them effective for both to light the band and to use as a backwash.”
In larger venues, he adds, ZW19 LED moving heads were brought in to provide additional side lighting: “The Fuze Par has good output, but once you get up past a roughly 30-foot proscenium and a 30-foot stage that drops off. So we’d bring in ZW19s for extra punch.”
In choosing Soundbox, Herk knew he’d be well taken care of. “I also knew I was going to get into a lot of Elation, which is completely solid. There’s nothing on the market in my opinion that matches the bang for buck of Elation product,” he says, citing previous experience with the brand’s line and the variety of fixtures they manufacture. “There was no product in our floor kit at any point that was not Elation.”