Vari-Lite Wash matches Disturbed pyro
Monday, 9 October 2023
disturbed-4‘Lights have to compete with a thousand pounds of propane a show!’
USA - Show designer Scott Holthaus of Happy Machine Design wanted “a big and bright fixture” for metal band Disturbed’s Take Back Your Life tour, and the Vari-Lite VL6500 Wash “checked all those boxes with flying colours”. The large format wash fixture from Vari-Lite, offered “a gigantic source of power” to the Disturbed show according to Holthaus, placed in a direct view position on stage where its high output stood out even against the pyrotechnics and other effects on stage.
“Lights have to compete with a thousand pounds of propane a show!” said Holthaus. “If the lights are not killer bright, leave them in the box.” The VL6500 Wash offers over 50,000 lumens of power, a large 14” aperture and distinctive Dichro*fusion blades, allowing it to stand out in the design. Ten VL6500 Washes were placed against the upstage wall, with four more hung inside automated pods that raised and lowered throughout the show. “The high output of the VL6500s provides a beautiful wash and doesn’t lose its power when competing with all of the fire on stage.”
“With such strong pyro elements and a lighting-dependent show with no video backwall, we needed a fixture that could still command the stage and set the tone for each moment,” explained associate show director Cort Lawrence of Raw Cereal. “However, this fixture also needed to blend in seamlessly amongst all of the other elements on stage. The VL6500s could do just that. The fixtures fit here perfectly amongst the sea of truss pyro and lighting, where their large yet precise output could still shine. They were pretty impressive.”
It wasn’t just the output that helped the VL6500 Wash stand out in the design. “With Disturbed and their genre-bending range, we needed a design that was flexible, and these fixtures were used to literally set the tone for each song,” Lawrence said. “During more emotionally charged moments, like Sound of Silence the lighting shifted to softer and more atmospheric tones with subdued colour washes, slow-moving patterns, and delicate pyrotechnics.
“On harder-hitting songs, the lighting design seamlessly merged with bursts of controlled flames and explosive pyrotechnics with fast-moving beams, bold colour transitions, and dynamic effects synced with eruptions of fire, engulfing the stage in a mesmerizing display of blazing intensity. With their intensity, strength, and colour-blending abilities, the VL6500s were the perfect touch for this show.”
Lawrence added: “The VL6500s come packed with power and versatility, which allows for a diverse array of looks for any show. Their soft wash, depth of colour, and output strength were certainly impressive to me.”
Show programmer and operator on the production was Ken Mitchell. Tour manager was Guy Sykes. Pyro on the production was provided by Bryan Ratay, Joey Herring, Pedro Sison and Tyler Scott.

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