Mavericks join Pigeons Playing Ping Pong live
Monday, 17 May 2021
pigeonsplayingpingpongPigeons Playing Ping Pong at the Avondale Brewing Company (photo: Kendall McCargo)
USA - The outdoor stage at the Avondale Brewing Company was smaller than the ones Pigeons Playing Ping Pong normally plays on, probably not much more than 30ft in length. But adaptation is the order of the day as live music gradually returns throughout much of the USA.
The popular jam band improvised their way through two upbeat sets filled with unbridled energy, antics and original musical turns when they played the Birmingham, AL venue.
Flowing with them on this freewheeling journey was their longtime lighting designer, Manny Newman. Described by the quartet as “the fifth member of the band”, Newman also proved that limited space is no obstacle to limitless ideas. His expansive show filled the stage and the entire venue with visual delights that included swirling custom gobo patterns and colour combinations that moved from dreamy pastels on white, to bold edgy mixes.
Helping him achieve these looks were the 18 Chauvet Professional Rogue fixtures in the band’s own touring rig. He arranged six Rogue R1 Spot fixtures across a 16ft truss as part of the ground package, and hung 12 Rogue R1 Wash units on four Global Truss Quick Grids. Working this road package with the house rig, he unleashed a stream of looks across the stage’s backdrop that invited imagination.
“Usually during the second set I like to do psych looks on the back wall for certain jams,” he said. “At Avondale, I did this with light and gobos rather that video, because I don’t like to shoot media in people’s faces. I want people to create their own mental image of what a song means to them.
Newman also made liberal use of white during the show, sometimes using it to envelop the band in a brilliant fan of light. “During peaks of jams I tend to go all white,” he said. “I like to look at the progression of brightness like the fret board of a guitar. As the musician is going up in the fretboard, the notes get higher as well as brighter. For me, I like to complement that from darker to brighter with dimmer and colour. So, white is the natural choice for the peak of the jam.”
“Playing” his lights this way to go with the music, improvising all the while to run with the band, Newman felt good to get back to doing what he loves. Now, he says, he’s looking forward to lighting Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at Domefest - Party In The Pods in Ohio later this month.

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