Billy Strings in space (photo: @actennille)
USA - Grammy-winning bluegrass artist Billy Strings was inspired on a European tour bus with the idea of placing ‘UFO pods’ above the heads the musicians on stage.
The artist discussed this concept with his LD Roger Grant, who drew up some sketches. That’s when Matthieu Larivée and his team at Lüz Studio came in. “Billy and Roger present these drawings to us and that was the starting point,” said Larivée. “This idea kicked off our creative process.”
The ultimate result of that process is a production that is adding a captivating and immersive dimension to Billy Strings’ current North American arena and amphitheatre tour. With its brilliantly illuminated circles above and below each of the five musicians on stage, as well as its free-flowing curved background patterns of light and video, the transformative design evokes a sense of infinite movement and freedom, a perfect accompaniment to this gifted star’s music.
Contributing to the power of the design is a collection of 70 Chauvet Professional fixtures supplied by Bandit Lites. Featured most prominently in this group are 40 Rogue Outcast 1 BeamWashes, which were flown in the UFO pods above the band.
“They were our main wash light,” said Larivée. “Being compact and bright enough to create an impact for solos made them ideal for this show. We were also able to use their halo feature, which is similar to the pod ‘s halos.”
Elaborating on why the pods worked so well in this design, Larivée noted: “Bluegrass is very unique, because it’s all about music. There are no drums and there are many, many solos. Each song can have multiple band members doing solos. So, by having one pod on top of each band member, we could highlight each of them separately, creating multiple looks as we went. We had a great support from Dizzy at Bandit in developing these tailor-made pods.”
The impromptu, jam-band nature of bluegrass also led Larivée and the Lüz team to divide their show into blocks, rather than try to create distinct looks for specific songs. “We needed to create looks that accompanied the audience on a journey,” he said. “Sometimes those looks have to last 30 minutes.
“There were no side screens in this show,” Larivée continued. “So, the video designs had to be flexible enough to created subtle looks in addition be to being bold when need. We also had to give our IMAG enough bells and whistles to work with the musical flow.”
Helping to make the IMAG images come off effectively were the rig’s 10 onAir Panel Min IP fixtures. “They were great compact footlights,” said Larivée. “We used them to get enough key light for the IMAG. Their good CRI and soft diffusion made them a perfect fit for this purpose.”

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