Robe in the Clouds with ИF
Friday, 12 November 2021
robe-nf-clouds-the-mixtape-tour-1‘The design process for the tour started with the idea of a bold definitive look’ (photo: Eddie Diaz)
USA - Rapper ИF toured his Clouds (The Mixtape) album in October with a raw and stylish production design created by Chris Denholm (also musical director) and Clay Joiner (also lighting designer).
To capture the narrative flow and massive energy of his music on this first ever shed tour, Chris and Clay chose over 200 Robe fixtures as the ‘lead luminaires’.
The lighting rig included 64 Robe Tarrantula wash beams, 128 Spikies, and 16 BMFL Spots plus two BMFL FollowSpots on a RoboSpot remote follow spotting system.
Chris and Clay have both worked with the rising star artist since early days trawling 300-capacity clubs with a passion, and have seen him fast-forward in presence, popularity, and credibility to now regularly play amphitheatres and arenas. The two also have a natural creative synergy and have been production collaborators for some time.
The design process for the tour started with the idea of a bold definitive look, architectural in form but functional as well to assist in the dramatic delivery of a hyperactive set.
The ‘big box’ geometry featured a large upstage screen, and the lighting both maximized the space and enabled it to be broken down into tightly concentrated areas.
With storytelling at the heart of the show, when drummer Rico Nichols – Kendrick Lamar associate and other major artists - was added to the touring line-up, the dynamic shifted slightly, so Chris and Clay introduced a modular riser system with the drum kit in the middle. A small thrust at the front enabled ИF to get out into the fans, and a toaster lift at upstage center added some cool entrances and exit magic!
ИF had multiple paths and runways to traverse the space and a clean, uncluttered symmetrical environment that could be big, small or whatever was needed.
With a heavy emphasis on upstage and back lighting, two pods of 4x4 Tarrantulas were positioned upstage left and right - four in total, flanking the screen.
The 128 Spikies were deployed in eight raked Svoboda-style pods - again in the 4x4 format - above the stage.
14 BMFL WashBeams were equally spaced out along the lowest section of the upstage truss, with the two BMFL FollowSpots in the centre for backlighting ИF.
Clay has worked with Robe products for many years, and they are a ‘go-to’ moving light brand for the “versatility, speed, output and clarity and the excellent range of fixtures that Robe keeps developing,” he enthuses.
The Tarrantulas were picked for their sheer output. “That extra ring of colour and LEDs (one more than Robe’s standard Spiider wash beam) is fantastic,” comments Chris, adding that it was the first time he’d used them at the suggestion of lighting rental vendor, Solotech.
“It’s a great fixture to programme and the flower effect is also excellent,” reckons Clay. Combined with the Spikes to produce over 200 flower effects onstage gave them latitude to create some fabulously rich multi-dimensional looks.
The two upstage centre BMFL FollowSpots were chosen for backlighting ИF for practicality and ease of use. “The overall RoboSpot control footprint is really small, so the BaseStation sat at dimmer beach and was run by one of our techs,” explains Chris.
As the console programmer & operator, Clay had control of all RoboSpot parameters via his grandMA2 apart from iris and zoom which were tweaked by the operator as needed, and having these two spots follow him everywhere was essential for the show. Also on the rig were LED pixel strips, blinders, and strobes.
Clay pre-vizzed the lighting for 10 days in Solotech’s Nashville office using Vectorworks and imported the show into Depence2 via MVR.

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