NEW YORK – When Basement, the melodic rock/emo band from Ipswich, Suffolk, UK, added a 21-date US leg to their widely anticipated reunion tour, they didn’t pay much attention to lighting. Captivating crowds with their raw, honest grunge-tinged songs, the group got by with house lights at jam packed performances from San Francisco to Austin to New Orleans. Then as they headed east for the last five nights of their tour, Basement moved its lighting rig up to a new level of visual excitement with some help from the Rogue R2 Wash moving LED fixture from CHAUVET Professional.
“The band wanted to blow out the remaining five shows on the tour in Washington, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Boston and New York with a good light package,” said LD Lenny Sasso. “There was a lot of enthusiasm for Basement in the early leg of the tour, and they wanted to play on this by engaging the audience even more with powerful lighting.”
A Philadelphia-based LD, Sasso was contacted by Basement’s manager and asked to create a new lightshow for the last five stops of the tour. Sasso, who worked with Basement in the past, instantly reached out to Squeek Lights in New York. Together they worked on putting together a quick and easy package that would give the LD the flexibility to jump right in on an ongoing tour, while delivering the power to create instant impact. The end result of this collaboration was a rig consisting of 12 Rogue R2 Washes and another LED fixture, the Shocker 90 IRC par.
“Victor and Steve over at Squeek Lights hooked me up with some great lights,” he said. “This was important under the circumstance, since I was jumping on board mid-stream. The biggest challenge was definitely jumping right into this run without any rehearsal or prep days. So on day one, I basically built a good punt page. Then I programmed what I could during sound check over the next few days.”
Sasso praised the user-friendly features of the Chauvet fixtures. “Setup wasn’t bad,” he recalled. “It usually took me about an hour or two to get up and running. You usually get into a rhythm and figure out how to quickly set up and tear down after a day or two. I didn’t really run into too many technical issues on this run. The entire rig was LED so power was never a problem. The Gramercy Theatre stage in New York City was pretty tight so I had to condense the rig and improvise a little bit. Their power service is up in a loft above the stage and I only had 10′ of feeder, so we ended up having to hoist my distro up a ladder which was fun — ha ha!”
These challenges notwithstanding, Sasso was able build riveting looks that not only reflected the shifting emotional tides of the band’s music, but also grabbed audiences by the gut with their brightness and intensity. The LD explained how he accomplished this feat:
“I side mounted the 12 Rogue R2 washes vertically facing the band on four 10’ pipes, directly upstage behind the band — three fixtures per pipe Then I split each fixture with a pair of the Chauvet Shocker pars. I haven’t seen too many guys do it this way. I guess I did half as an experiment and half just wanting to do something different. It looked really clean having all the fixtures in a straight line, and also, since all the R2s were side mounted facing the band, I was able to get total coverage of the stage, floor, and ceiling. This allowed me to do some really cool ACL and starburst looks straight through the band from deck to ceiling.”
Sasso avoided front washes on his rig, creating instead silhouetted looks to reflect the dark, moody, and artsy mood of Basement’s music. During slower songs, he went with extremely limited movement fixtures and created powerful depth-filled looks.
“I’m all about total immersion with my audience so I usually hit them a lot with light,” elaborated Sasso. “So for songs like ‘Breathe,’ I created a massive sunburst with the R2s and filled the entire room from front to back, with the goal of making the audience feel like they are part of this whole experience and there’s no separation of audience and band. I don’t get too strobe heavy; I tend to view strobes as an added accent or effect that can really heighten a massive section of a song. The most I got on using strobes was with the song ‘Spoiled,’ when I hit just about every guitar bend and squeal in the song with strobe blast.”
All in all, Sasso created between 7-10 different looks per show for Basement. Running his rig on an Avolites Quartz console with the new Titan software, he also created individual positions for each of the band’s five members using different Rogues. Citing an example, he notes, “During the opener ‘Whole,’ in post-chorus two the entire band drops out and Alex Henry plays a guitar part solo, so I drop out the whole rig except for the three Rogues that I built a position on for him. This created a cool highlighted moment and made the lightshow more connected to the music.”
According to Sasso, the zoom capabilities of the Rogue R2 allow a wide variety of new looks to be created quickly. This attribute was deeply appreciated by an LD who had to jump onboard an ongoing tour mid-stream. “The zoom on the R2 is awesome,” he said. “By zooming out, I could completely fill the entire stage and simultaneously fill the room in an audience blind. I’d then be able to zoom all the way in and have a really nice defined beam that looked great for whatever X or V patterns I’d decide to make. The ring control was also really cool on these guys. I was able to work some cool ring effects into a song or two. To have that kind of control on a fixture is great.”
Sasso chose primarily very saturated reds, oranges, magentas, and blues as colors for his Rogue fixtures, with an occasional pastel blue for slower tunes. The white light in the Basement design was provided by the 16 Shocker par style fixtures.
“The Shockers were just punishing at times; they were so intense, which was great,” said Sasso. “I had them individually addressed, so I was able to create some cool rainfall effects for some added excitement. I also had them set up for strobe blasts. I was able to dump the whole rig and just hit the audience with the Shockers and it looked great.’
After the fifth and final stop on the Basement tour, Sasso looked back on the project that came to him unexpectedly with little advance notice. “It was great how everything came together so fast,” he said. “I was pleased and the band was too. After every show the band and I immediately hit to Instagram to check out what people were putting out there. Looking at their comments, we knew that the lighting went over big with Basement fans.”