Lighting Designer and Director Ethan Weber chose a large complement of versatile Ayrton Domino luminaires for Grammy Award-winner John Mayer’s Sob Rock Tour 2022 in support of his eighth studio album of the same name. ACT Entertainment is the exclusive distributor of Ayrton lighting fixtures in North America.
The 23-stop arena tour kicked off in March in Las Vegas and wrapped in Boston in May. The North American schedule featured multi-day concerts in six cities. Weber, perhaps best known for his work with The Rolling Stones, obtained the Ayrton Dominos from Upstaging in Sycamore, Illinois, the lighting vendor for the Sob Rock Tour.
Apart from using Ayrton Magic Panels on some festivals, Weber began using Ayrton fixtures in earnest last year. “Dave Ridgeway and Fraggle from Neg Earth suggested we swap some rain- vulnerable fixtures out for Perseos on the fall Rolling Stones tour,” Weber recalls. “We also did a couple of shows at the Hard Rock in Fort Lauderdale with Ghiblis, Boras and Khamsins. I was very impressed with their intensity, features and reliability. I didn’t know about the Dominos until I talked to John Bahnick at Upstaging about Ayrtons for John Mayer.”
Upstaging’s Dominos “have been in great demand: They’re the Cadillac of high-end fixtures,” says Chuck Spector, in the Upstaging lighting department. “The Dominos’ IP rating has contributed to its success combined with fantastic optics and color mixing. We’ve also invested in Ayrton’s IP-rated Perseos. It gives me peace of mind when clients use Dominos or Perseos for arena shows or festivals – I know the fixtures will be fine no matter where they’re used.”
Weber explains that Sam Pattinson/Treatment Studio designed John Mayer’s set with a slat roof and two angled upstage/stage left videowalls. “Video plays a large part in the show, so my goal was to light John, the band and fill the space without encroaching on the screens,” he says.
“I wanted some lights to shine through the slat roof. The lights would need to trim at close to 50 feet and swapping them out would be pretty rough. The brightness and reliability of the Dominos made them a great fit.”
Weber spread out 32 Dominos on four trusses about 10 feet above the roof. “I was hoping they would help light the upstage band members, but also found, when zoomed out, that they lit the roof nicely and, when tightened up, we got some very nice shafts of light coming through.”
Although the tour was in arenas where the Dominos’ IP65 rating didn’t come into play, Weber says, “I feel very strongly that lights should be built to work outdoors: I’ve spent far too much time over the years covering lights after late-night programming sessions and have lost far too many lights in rainy shows. We’ve now swapped more lights out to Ayrtons on the upcoming Stones’ tour because of their IP rating.”
He reports that he “really enjoyed using the Dominos” for Mayer’s tour. “We only had two failures in four-and-a-half months; they were bright with good colors and a good set of gobos. I thought Domino was the perfect light for the job.”
Weber notes that “Aaron Hubbard at ACT has been a huge help” as he’s moved to using more Ayrton fixtures. “When we first switched over to some Perseos on the Stones, he sorted out getting fixtures sent to Upstaging twice – once just as the pandemic hit and then again last fall. I think that was a bit of a feat as there weren’t many available in the US at the time. Aaron also offered his support when we were starting up John Mayer, but we had almost no issues, so all was good.”
Spector notes that Upstaging has a long history with Ayrton, being an early adopter of Magic Dots and Magic Panels, and with ACT. “ACT has been really great to work with in getting fixtures we need on time. Where other vendors have been making excuses about the supply chain, ACT has remained faithful to who they are and made sure we got the Dominos we ordered on time.”
Weber says he’ll “definitely use Dominos in the future” on shows. “I still have some old favorites that are hard to move on from, but I have wanted to transition to LEDs and think that Ayrton has cracked it – good-looking fixtures, bright, reliable, with a good fade curve and IP65 rating.”
Spector says Upstaging’s Dominos “won’t get cold” sitting on the shelf between jobs. “After the Sob Rock tour they won’t be in the shop more than a week before going out again.”