SUNRISE, FL – 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 lighting designer Matt Collier is providing on its current “Fly With Me Tour,” using a collection of Chauvet fixtures.
“Brothers Gow is a band that makes a lot of transitions, embraces a lot of different styles of music and is always ready to improvise, so being quick is very important,” said Collier. “Having basic and static red or blue lights on stage wouldn’t do this band or its music justice.”
Collier created a light show that reflects the band’s improvisational spirt. At the heart of his rig is a 20’ overhead truss with eight evenly spaced eight SlimPAR 64 RGBA LED par style fixtures from CHAUVET DJ accompanied by an equal number of CHAUVET Professional Q-Spot 260 moving heads. His road-proven rig also includes four CHAUVET DJ Intimidator Wash Zoom 350 IRC RGBW moving fixtures as well as additional SlimPARs. The Intimidators are positioned on the floor, either upstage or downstage, depending on the mood of a particular show; and the SlimPAR 64 fixtures are 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. “The Q-Spots are great because they are bright enough to energize the stage and the crowd in larger rooms and theaters. Yet at the same time, they’re compact enough to use in in smaller clubs,” he said. “I also like layering gobos for cool effects and back wall effects, with the two gobo wheels in the Q-Spots.”
Collier also praised the versatility of the Intimidator fixtures. “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 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. 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.”