Tickets for the first  iHeartRadio ALTer EGO concert of 2022 were gobbled up by eager fans within 20 minutes of going on sale. A thrilling response, no doubt, for producers Diversified Production Services, Firehouse Productions, and All Access Staging and Productions, as well as everyone else associated with the event, but one that also necessitated some adjustments to the stage design.

“Upon hearing that tickets sold out so quickly, we immediately realised that we were going to have to expand the production experience to a much wider audience, as there would be even more seating areas opened for extra ticket sales,” said Patrick Dierson of The Activity, which created the lighting rig for the Capital One sponsored concert, featuring artists like Coldplay, All Time Low, Imagine Dragons, Måneskin, and more.

To accommodate the larger crowd, the design team began angling each of the production elements to create a more rounded look to the overall production at the LA Forum. “We wanted to ensure that every seat in the house received a high visual value for their ticket purchase,”  said Dierson. “Ultimately we configured the rig to provide good views to everyone seated within a 270-degree radius of the stage We even opened more seating by compressing the FOH area.”

Dierson and his team called upon an impressive collection of lighting fixtures, video panels and scenic elements to fill the big venue with visuals that would immerse all fans in the performances, whether they were sitting in the audience or watching via livestream.

Playing a key role in this mix was a collection of CHAUVET Professional Maverick and COLORado fixtures, which, like the rest of the rig, was supplied by 4Wall Entertainment.

Rigged gear was arranged in multiple rows, starting at 11-feet off the stage deck up to heights of  48-feet above the floor.  This arrangement not only provided the desired wide viewing angles, it also reflected the scale of the star studded concert and filled vertical space.

Layered throughout the truss system and used as the main wash light were 21 Maverick MK3 Wash fixtures. “It’s no exaggeration to say that the Mavericks were our workhorses,” said Dierson. “We really do get a lot of mileage out of those units in a very easily controlled package.  Narrow, wide, pixelated effects… the Mavericks do it all –and they do it with a lot of punch. I’m thankful to the folks at 4Wall for introducing us to them.

Also playing a critical role in the lighting design was the COLORado 2 Solo.  “We spec’d them en masse,” said Dierson. “They gave us extra utility units for various tasks.  These ended up doing a bunch of work as scenic up light for various extra set pieces, such as our guest DJ booth, as well as a general area work light for the backstage space.  The latter of which is critical to a production — and traditionally is unplanned for in many designs.

“One of the things we do once we’re past the artistic process of the design is start to lay in these utility needs,” continued Dierson.  “This show moves incredibly fast with a 48-foot turntable that creates set changes in less than 60 seconds.  That means that there is a constant state of backstage set change work happening during each performance, and those teams need to see what they’re doing without it distracting from the on stage performance.  The Solo pars have also been our go-to unit for tasks such as these, amongst many other things, thanks to their versatility.”

Not surprisingly, pulling off a show this large and complex requires a sky-high level of  team work. Dierson praised the close coordination between The Activity, 4Wall and C2W Rigging as an example. “There is an absolutely massive team of people that go into doing these productions, but on this show in particular we especially have to commend our friends over at C2W Rigging: Carsten Weiss and Jack Blacketer,” he said.  “The C2W team have been instrumental in working with us throughout the pre-production process to ensure as smooth a load-in as possible; the work that they put in creates constant dividends once on site.”

Regarding his own team, Dierson said: “The Activity always comes to the iHeartRadio and DPS projects with a strong team to ensure that the expected quality level of delivery is maintained, and this show was no exception.  John Ellar is our overall project manager and oversees all of the minutia items as well as ensuring that follow spots and moving lights are correctly balanced for cameras.  Justin Cheatham and Manny Conde always come with their A-game as lighting directors for these shows. Manny was also handling LD duties for Imagine Dragons, so he was going to be with us whether we liked it or not, so it became a wonderful fit.  Justin Cheatham traditionally gets the entire show file and rig sorted so that it’s ready for the guests. This  year he also handled LD duties for our special guest, Avril Lavigne.”

Then, there was the venue itself; it also came in for praise from Dierson.   “I’m a big  fan of lighting the venue,” he said. “When you’re lighting a show that’s televised, lighting the venue gives the audience at home a good sense of the space the concert is taking place in.  The Forum in Los Angeles is definitely one of those iconic joints where you want to celebrate your moment in time for livestream viewers. Plus, letting light play through architectural elements ensures that there is never a dead moment (or space) during a broadcast’s wide shots. This is especially true at The Forum, which  has a beautiful ‘star light’ effect built into the house light system.”

As for the other kind of “stars,” the myriad ones appearing on stage during this show (plus their gifted LDs), Dierson and his team worked hard to give the rig the flexibility needed to reflect their diverse musical styles and onstage personas. To do this, they ensured there was a good mix of high powered, versatile fixtures with room left for an artist’s supplemental gear, as at any festival.

“It’s a nice challenge to create a rig for such a varied lineup,” he said. “The reality is that you’re never going to nail it for every artist’s exact needs, but it’s fun trying.”

And on this Saturday night in January, Dierson and his team at The Activity, not only had fun trying, they also “nailed it exactly,” as close as humanly possible for every act on stage.

September 2023 issue

2023 A1 Buyers Guide