In the early 2011, I was inside a new season in Sala O Tunel Club as lighting designer; the second one. Some good bands dropped by the club these days, and one of these bands was Standstill. Just before the concert starts, a tall guy came and told me "hey, I'm from Pülsar, the band which opens the show. Can I explain you something?" Of course I said yes. He told me the first song would fit nice with a strange mix between green and blue, over a dark mood. "Ok, no problem", I said. "Anything else?" Then, Jose said "absolute nothing else. I saw a lot of gigs here with you on the lights, and you make things work so good. Enjoy the show".
I didn't hear almost nothing about Pülsar before. Maybe some posters in the town, or a lost word in a futile conversation. So I prepared myself to have fun with new music.
Ok, let me tell you something. I was totally shocked with their awesome mixture of alternative post-rock and post-metal, with one of the greatest voices I listened to, Leo Lopez (and a wonderful second voice by Andres too), and all their intense amount of raw sensations. They were in O Tunel to present "Musica para animales" album, published by Radix / Baten Records in 2010. You can listen to the full album here.
They did a great show that night. I didn't know the songs and I had just a few LED lights to capture their music but I really enjoyed the band. There is a nice photo gallery here where you can see some very good pics taken by Elba Fernandez. And you can see, with very bad audio and image quality, the song "Nuestras naves" (a new one by that time) from that concert:
They were also happy with my lights in the show at O Tunel, so when Standstill returned to Galicia in 2012, playing at Sala Capitol in Santiago de Compostela, Pülsar was there opening the concert and I was there too: they wanted me to play their visual show.
First of all, Pülsar was inside a different music style now. Even preserving things from "Musica para animales", they were exploring new paths with the new album "Buen Viaje", published by RadiX Records (2012). They produced the album and everything was recorded by Jose in his studio, so they showed a new musical direction but also a different sound. You can listen to or download the digital album here for free, but I suggest you to buy the physical CD here because of the hand-made album and wonderful artwork designed by the visual artist Leo Lopez Garcia (part of a numbered and limited edition; see how it's manufactured here). This is how "Buen Viaje" sounds like:
"Buen Viaje" is a well done work, so I had to put the visual show in a similar level (that was what I felt) but I had to deal with some difficult conditions. First, this was not our show. It was Standstill' show, and I understood this from the beginning. This means less time to program my show, and less options to make things easy (from having the opportunity to work with my MagicQ console to make decissions over the lighting rig). In the other hand, Sala Capitol is a nice music club (having in mind the level of other galician clubs playing alternative music) but also a pre-rigged one. Unless you're there with a huge band or company (translation: Unless you're there with a lot of money), you can move almost nothing. So when I arrived, I had all these things to deal with, less time than desirable, and just a few minutes with my band on stage, during sound check.
Fortunately, the resident lighting guy Felipe Alcalde is a great professional (and a good friend of mine since that day) and he tried to help me in all the things he could manage. He had to program a lot for Standstill show so I decided to use their Avolites Pearl console instead of mine just to take advantage of my programming time (the managers of the club didn't like so much to install a new board just for the opening band).
Working with a Pearl. This is how I work within an Avolites Pearl. I always think in the possibilities of the rig. In this case, I had six Martin Mac 600 washes, 4 Martin Mac 500 spots, and 4 Martin Mac 550 spots, plus all the conventional lights. I only have ten physical faders when operating a Pearl (and a lot of virtual ones switching between playback pages), so I have to make my live show as easy as possible. I expend two or three faders for the dimmers. In this case, I did this way: Fader 1 deals with front light (which it was a mixture between wash/spot fixtures downside and some conventional profiles rigged 9 meters high), Fader 2 deals with dimmer channel of the spot lights (Mac500 and Mac550) and Fader 3 deals with dimmer channel of wash lights (Mac600). I did this on the first playback page. In the next pages, I mixed different front-light solutions in Fader 1; sometimes I refused to program faders for Mac600 dimmers (because I programmed another Mac600 resources like dimmer or pulse effects in Fader 4 or Fader 5) and this way I had Fader 2 and Fader 3 only for spots (sometimes using one fader for Mac500 and one fader for Mac550, sometimes using one fader for downside fixtures and the other one for the other rigged spots, or combining left-right, odd-even, asymmetrical pairs...). This is very important for the way I operate my shows: I really need physical faders assigned to spot dimmers, because of the great possibilities they gave remarking emphasis through the music.
Normally, Faders 4 and 5 are always assigned to a beam effect for the moving lights. In this case, I can choose a dimmer effect for the spots in Fader 4 (p.e., asymmetrical) and another dimmer effect for the washes on Fader 5 (p.e. from left to right) for one playback page, and use the following virtual pages changing the utility of spots in Fader 4 (sometimes a pulse effect, sometimes an iris effect, or just some other different types of dimmer effects). Faders 6 and 7 are commonly used for me as position effects, with same method: Fader 6 works with spots (programming pan, tilt, circle or square movements, almost always in an asymmetrical way) and Fader 7 with washes (using my favourite movement for wash fixtures: square corner effects or a little offset in a symmetrical pan movement). In some pages I use 4 faders for fixture movements, in this order: tilt spot, pan wash, pan spot, tilt wash. This is useful because you can combine these moments to get pan, tilt, circle or random movements in two types of moving light with just a few time programming. The rest of the faders is used according to the resources left. I always use blinders in last faders, and next to blinders, when possible, I put the ACL's. I do that to get the fast response possible for these intense effects. If I have moving lights in the rig, I try to group all the pars by color in playback faders. So if I have 6 red, 6 blue and 6 green PAR64, I use only two faders per page. The result is a red fader and a blue fader on PB page 1, a blue fader and a green fader on PB page 2, and a green fader and a red fader on PB page 3. I choose wether to use just a dimmer fader or a chase effect for this color on each page, depending on the effects assigned in that page for moving lights.
Pülsar visual show. These guys made a very intense music. No solo parts, and no big feedback with the audience. I translated this into a visual design keeping weak front lights over the whole show, and giving a big importance to colour atmospheres. All Pülsar lyrics talk about naked feelings, and Leo's voice matches this concept creating a frail balance. When operating lights, I tried to represent this first preserving the colour palettes for each theme, depending on the intensity in the music, and second, making big contrast between the musical parts, with sutile effects during verses and violent light reactions during chorus. This is the way I understand a fragile but passionate mind, which is the world Pülsar sails in. I also thought about their wonderful mix of lyric calm and exploding screams of pain and happiness, so I tried to maintain this line with moving lights mixing gobos, prism and no beams, avoiding unified effects. Having in mind I missed some parts and I didn't work in the way I like to, I think we could achieve a very nice visual atmosphere for their music.
Leo Lopez Garcia, the lead singer, is a also a great designer for his own company Estudioalavista and he makes wonderful video pieces, so he thought in recording some songs of the concert to build some clips later. Oscar Gorriz, another great visual professional, did his best photographing the show with several DSLR cams. Now, you can see the results bellow this comments in two youtube videos, which I think matched very nice how the visual concept was.
THIS IS JUST A SUMMARY OF THE ORIGINAL POST. DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS LIGHTING DESIGN? Please refer to Ben Diaz's blog, and find nice photo galleries and more videos:
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Ben Diaz, Lighting Designer FB page: