Brothers Gow has done over 500 live shows since the quintet was formed in Flagstaff, Arizona in late 2007, and it’s safe to say that no two performances have ever been the same. Fans never know where this popular jam band is going to take them musically as it seamlessly blends rock, funk, jazz, reggae and other genres in fresh new ways.
Such music calls for a lightshow with the speed and suppleness to wrap itself around the band’s free-flowing sound, which is exactly what LD Matt Collier provided on the group’s current Fly With Me tour with some help from some Intimidator Wash Zoom 350 IRC RGBW moving heads and SlimPAR 64 fixtures from CHAUVET DJ.
Collier created a lightshow that reflects the band’s improvisational spirit. At the heart of his rig is a 20’ overhead truss with eight evenly spaced SlimPAR 64 tri-color LED par-style fixtures accompanied by an equal number of Q-Spot moving heads from our sister company CHAUVET Professional. Adding a heavy dosage of light cannon power to the show are four Intimidator Wash Zoom 350 IRC RGBW moving fixtures positioned on the floor.
The Intimidators are located either upstage or downstage, depending on the mood of a particular show. Adding more impact to the rig are a group of SlimPAR 64 fixtures used as accent and truss lighting.
Working together, the collection of fixtures gives Collier the movement, color, image-making capabilities and audience engagement required to support the musical twists and turns that make up a Brothers Gow performance. Collier gives a shout out to the Intimidators because of their big time presence and versatility. “They can be used very well to add punch and passion to the show as upstage or downstage lighting,” he said. “Positioning them behind the band is super effective and looks great. We also use them as audience blinders.”
Color changing is critical to Collier’s design philosophy because of its power to reflect the wide range of feelings that ripple through the music of Brothers Gow. The LD takes full advantage of the color rendering capabilities of his Chauvet rig to mirror the emotional flavor of each song. “I like to change up color based on the mood of the music,” he said. “I tend to use a lot of cyan and L.Blue, purple tones, warm and cool fades, plus solid colors for specific points in a song. An all red or blue can also be a very powerful IMO. I like pastels and CMY combos as well.”
The Fly With Me rig is more than just fast on stage, said Collier, it’s also quick and easy to set up and tear down, an essential attribute, given the group’s touring schedule. The truss at the heart of his rig is made up of 5’, 10’ and 5’ sticks to accommodate stages of different sizes, while still allowing Collier to keep a symmetrical design. “I pre-wired the truss and zip-tied to cords to it,” said the LD. “This makes setup a lot easier and cuts the amount of time required in half.”
Collier’s start as an LD mirrors the free flowing see-where-this-takes-us spirit of his jam band client. When asked about his history with Brothers Gow, he said, “I met the guys right when they started the band in Flagstaff. Originally I was just there to hang out and take pictures, and it kind of transitioned into doing sound and then lighting. I was very taken with lighting from the beginning, and over the last five years with the band we have slowly built up our lighting inventory and programming knowledge.”
Talking about his own approach to lighting, Collier says, “I like to create an environment that enhances the music and allows the live music goer to have a visual connection with what they are hearing. The lightshow is there to enhance what should already be a good live show. It gives the audience something tangible that they can see, and impacts them much more than five guys standing under some red, green and yellow gelled flood lights.”
Anyone who’s had the privilege of seeing Brothers Gow perform knows that Collier has succeeded in taking his rig beyond the bread-and-butter level to create a real visual delicacy.