PHILADELPHIA – Not many Metalcore bands take their names from a fantasy novel written by a children’s writer. But defying expectation seems to come naturally to Atreyu, which began their career as “Retribution,” before renaming themselves after a character in German author Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story. Going beyond the usual snarling metal sounds of their genre, this quintet has a knack for painting pictures with its music. Philadelphia-based LD Lenny Sasso did justice to the group’s imagination in his lightshow on their recent tour using Shocker Panels from CHAUVET DJ, as well as drawing on the zone control and pixel mapping features of sister company CHAUVET Professional Rogue and Nexus fixtures provided by Squeek Lights.
After working on Atreyu’s tour for their sixth and latest studio album Long Live, Sasso described how he went beyond illuminating the stage to reflect the varying moods of the music. “The music of Atreyu can get pretty intense and it evokes powerful images,” he said. “I wanted the lighting to keep up, to reflect this and contribute to taking the audience on a journey. So, for example, when there were sections of songs that were slow and dramatic, instead of doing a random slow dimmer fade between the lights as I normally do, I opted to play with the ring control of the Rogue R2 Wash and it looked really great. It was a neat little contrast.
“Zone control also played a huge role at one of our stops in Boston, where we were not allowed to use haze,” continued the LD. “In this instance I ended up pointing the R2s forward into the audience and used a lot of the ring control on pretty much every song. This gave me more cool visuals, since I wasn’t able to really create beams.”
For the Atreyu song “When Two Are One,” Sasso pixel mapped his Nexus fixtures to create extra storytelling imagery. “The song has a long dramatic instrumental intro, which then bursts into a crazy guitar solo,” he said. “So what we did was create like a drag strip traffic light effect, ha-ha. So when the song started I had just the top LED red. Then, a few measures later, the next LED lit up red. Eight counts before the solo, the third LED lights up yellow. Then after four counts, the fourth LED lights up yellow. Finally, when the band crashes in, the whole Nexus array turns green. We thought it was hilarious.”
Sasso used six Shocker Panels in his rig, as well as six Rogue R2 Washes, six Nexus 4×1 bars and four Vesuvio RGBA LED foggers from sister company CHAUVET Professional and a collection of eight LED pars. Everything in the rig with the exception of the foggers and pars was mounted vertically inline on six pipes. The Rogues were positioned at the top, Shocker Panels in the middle, and the Nexus bars on the bottom. All fixtures were run at 120v.
The poles were configured in a V-shape, with the center poles 6’ in height, the middle ones 8’ and the outside sticks 10’. “The way we arranged the poles gave us a really cool layout, and coincidentally the artwork on the backdrop fit perfectly between the poles,”” said Sasso. “I side mounted the R2s on the poles, because I felt like it gave me more coverage of the stage. I was able to have beams come straight down on top of my drummer and then also fly out and hit the ceiling. Having the R2s kind of sit middle of the space instead of lower to the ground allowed me to kind of create more depth.”
According to Sasso, the V-shaped configuration was particularly well suited for the 500- to 1000-capacity venues that Atreyu played at on their tour. “When I put together a little rig like this, the first thing I usually think is, the majority (if not all) of the venues we’re going to tour through will have a decent number of profiles,” he said. “So I immediately think of adding wash lights to start in order to complement what I know I’m already going to be using at these venues.
“The R2 wash was an obvious place for me to start,” he continued. “What makes the R2 great is its zoom. For most of our shows, these lights were about 7’-10’ from the band members, and I was able to zoom them out and wash the entire deck. Or I could zoom them all the way in and create nice tight beam effects with them. They’re fast and smooth, which is great for this band. Atreyu gets pretty crazy at times, so having a light that can keep up and snap quickly to positions is perfect.”
Since almost all of the fixtures Sasso used were on the six individual poles, it was easy to set up the rig and accommodate different stage configurations. “Our original idea was to have six poles in a straight line, but since we knew that some of the stages would be a little narrow we got creative,” he said. “At most stops we ended up with the outside 10’ poles at mid-stage, the 6’ poles at the upstage edge of the drum riser, and the 8’ poles somewhere diagonally in-between the two. This ended up actually giving an awesome 3D effect.”
Creating a 3D effect was altogether appropriate for Atreyu. Perhaps because they are so adept at creating images with their music, the California-based group has had its tunes turn up on movie soundtracks like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and video games like Madden NFL with impressive frequency. Had anyone made a film of the band’s recent tour, Sasso’s design undoubtedly would have earned great reviews.