March 20, 2011

Bodies in Motion

Phone photos of a dance group performing doesn't yield any details. I didn't expect it would. But I did become intrigued by the images. The blurred movement causes limbs to seem to bend in odd ways. They become like stick figures, apparitions skating on jet streams.

March 06, 2011

Elton John show at the MACC

Like most technicians in the entertainment industry, the local Maui techs are a nefarious group of unique individuals. Somewhere between cowboys and pirates, they're thick-skinned, bruised and scarred, loud, gruff, and known to go wild on occasion. Here's my ol' buddy Mike who came to help load in the band gear. He enjoys annoying you all day long until you finally snap.

Summer was on the lighting crew and ran a follow spot for the show. Ever see a follow spot operator climb a spot tower in a dress?

Elton's Yamaha piano was uncovered and positioned downstage while the rest of the band gear was placed behind and plugged in.
Drummer Nigel Olssen has a beautiful flame coated DW drum kit with sub-kick extensions attached to the kick drums.
I also noticed that he had a mixing console on his riser that he personally uses to mix his own in-ear monitors. Propped up on the console he had an Oscar Mayer wiener mobile toy and a cute Ashley Force doll.

When the show began I wandered out to see how it looked from the two Grandma lighting consoles at the front-of-house. The Yokouchi Pavilion was bursting with color from the moving lights and led strips. As a smaller outdoor venue, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center offers a good close-up seat for nearly everyone in comparison to most concert stadiums on the mainland which are sometimes 10 times the size. And the weather is perfect.

I made my way through the crowd to see the pavilion at a 45 degree angle. The view was great and the IMAG video screens on each side showed the musicians up close. The glass roof glowed in various colors. The opening numbers energized the crowd with Funeral for a Friend leading into Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting.

Heading backstage I spent most of the show over on stage right and could watch Elton from behind as he played, which he did for nearly 3 hours straight. The audience blinders would wash over the people at the end of each song. All the conditions were right... weather, sound, lights, the place, the energy, and of course, the music.

Every once in a while he would stand, bow, walk around the stage or stand up on his piano bench, which just made the audience go nuts.

At the end of the show he hopped up and sat on the piano. As he slid himself off with open arms I snapped this picture of him with the adoring crowd cheering for a Hana Hou encore. What an amazing night that made the exhausting week all worth it...

March 03, 2011

The Yokouchi Pavilion and Elton John

Here at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, the 13 million dollar construction of the Yokouchi Pavilion has been completed and was recently christened by two nights of music by Sir Elton John and his band, thrilling all who came out to see the show.
The huge glass pyramid roof sparkles like a diamond in the sunlight and has literally turned the MACC into the Jewel of the Pacific.

As the chairs were carefully being laid out on the lawn for the upcoming Elton shows, I took a picture from the roof of the Castle Theater's stage house. The open walls of the structure and intimate setting among palm trees make it a perfect venue to see concerts, especially when the sun sets into Iao Valley and a full Maui moon appears above.

Stage platforms were connected and several lighting trusses filled with moving lights were hoisted up into the roof.
There's a catwalk that was constructed up in the roof which I requested for access to the lighting rig. Early on, as the catwalk was being designed, I was asked in a 'by-the-way' manner, how tall I was. A little more than 5'7", I answered. That was passed on to the architect and now when I stroll the catwalk, the I-beams clear my head within an inch. It's a cool bit of trivia that I can brag about... but those I-beams are actually pitched and I've been reminded several times how hard that metal is compared to my fragile noggin when I've strayed from the center of the catwalk to one side.

The view from up there was much better before they suspended some padded acoustic panels from the beams of the roof but it still provides adequate access to my lights and circuits.

There is a secret room that was built below the concrete floor which we call the "vault" which contains dimmer racks, amplifiers, wiring, breaker panels and 2 large conduit tubes that travel underground and connect to the (FOH) front-of-house mix position. Sound, lighting and power cables are pulled from the vault through the tubes and out to a trap door in the ground at the tented mix position on the lawn where the lighting and sound consoles are placed. Backstage, these cables get connected to dimmers and speakers.

In the photo to the left you can see the hatch doors open to the air-conditioned vault below the concrete floor located behind the stage. This is pretty cool to have quick access to equipment should a problem arise.

When dimmers and power distros are brought in for a show, the area designated for the dimmer racks are sometimes called "dimmer beach" and coils of cables will often pile up there in a very orderly way but because there are so many, they may look like a mass of spaghetti. Here's a close-up of the pasta pile for the Elton shows.
Empty road cases are stored upstage behind the backdrop.

The line array sound system is hung from the downstage corners of the pavilion and the band gear will be placed onstage tomorrow. Video screens are setup on the lawn left and right of the stage that will show close-ups of Elton during the show.

The view from the sound console shows how everything is shaping up as the sun goes down on me. Hey, that's an Elton song, isn't it?