Celebrating 311 Day (photo: Gentle Giant Digital)

USA - In 2024, rockers 311 from Omaha, Nebraska, celebrate 34 years as one of America’s most popular indie bands with a massive ‘cult following’. The band celebrates biennially with a ‘311 Day’ concert event - two nights of ‘unapologetic 311-core music’. Since 2018, this has been staged at The Park Theatre at Park MGM, Las Vegas.

Lighting designer Bobby Grey of Notan Creative has been working as their production designer since 2018. But before then, he had completed his first ever 311 tour as a fresh-faced fresh out of school lighting tech, back in the day when Joe Paradise was pushing the buttons.

The 2024 event featured a completely new production design – which will be followed up by a heavy touring schedule – and Bobby took the opportunity to spec nearly 200 Robe moving lights – a mix of Fortes, Esprites, Tetra2s and MegaPointes – for his rig.

With lighting, video and a substantial automation system under his visual discretion, Bobby built a multi-layered design that could be textured, built up and stripped back as appropriate to the different dynamics and sections of the show.

The band is keen on being close to their audience – literally and metaphorically – and maintaining and reinforcing these strong bonds is a requirement of any production design.

“The music is extremely nuanced,” described Bobby, and with 90 different songs performed over the two nights, adaptability was key to delivering the show everyone wanted. The design featured a large upstage video screen, and structure and form were also integral to the stage look.

A hexagonal shape – made up of six trussing sections split in two automated sections of three truss pieces – was flown above centre stage and surrounded by eight 20ft long trussing ‘pods’ with two more pods in the centre making 10 in total. Each pod was automated and populated with four Esprites, with the other eight Esprites divided between the two sides of the hexagon.

A 30ft diameter circular truss – also kinetic – surrounded the hexagonal truss pieces and the two central 20ft pods, and this sphere was rigged with 24 x MegaPointes and 36 x Tetra2s.

56 Fortes were then rigged on 12 offstage side torms, six a side staggered at three different heights to bring more depth to the performance space, with the lights blasting super bright beams across the 120ft-wide stage.

Another eight Fortes lined the upstage truss for powerful and dramatic back light and effects.

MegaPointes were his trusty workhorses. “They were easily the best choice for the moving circle truss with their nice tight aperture for crisp clean lines of light and the near infinite choice of effects,” he commented.

Bobby also managed all the show’s video content – his company Notan Creative was founded to specifically deal with this aspect of visual design – and video is part of the visual equation that he has consistently built on since stepping into the design hot seat in 2018.

When 311 are touring, Ryan Alexander is the lighting director and operator on the road, but for 311 Day events, Bobby will operate himself, with Ryan calling follow spots. All the lighting kit – together with rigging and automation for the 2024 311 Day was supplied by 3G Productions, Las Vegas, account managed by Eric Cruz.

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