The largest free music festival in the nation, the 32nd annual Musikfest drew more than one million people to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in August for ten days of music, art and family fun. For the third consecutive year WorldStage supplied an extensive lighting rig to the Sands Steel Stage, the main stage and only ticketed venue at the festival. (Lighting design; David Zeffren).
Sands Steel Stage audiences enjoyed performances by ZZ Top, The Flaming Lips, Darius Rucker, REBA, Culture Club, Alice in Chains and more. Musikfest is presented by ArtsQuest, a community-based nonprofit. Proceeds from the event, which features more than 500 performances on 16 stages, go to support ArtsQuest's free programming for the region year-round at the Banana Factory community arts center and SteelStacks arts and cultural campus.
"I can always count on getting the latest and greatest gear from WorldStage," Zeffren says. "When WorldStage updates its inventory I get to update the Musikfest rig."
"It's always a joy to work with a lighting designer as professional as David, and this summer's Musikfest was no exception," says WorldStage project manager Alison May. "He always comes with a plan but is able to improvise if needed. As a lighting designer who lights concerts, broadcast and theater, it is clear that David's ability to improvise is truly a valuable one."
Zeffren configured three overhead trusses, using Tyler GT Truss, for all the moving lights and a downstage truss for a dimmable conventional lighting package. In this way fixtures could be pre-wired and pre-hung. "That made changeovers quicker and easier than with traditional trussing," Zeffren says.
Making their festival debut were Clay Paky Mythos fixtures, which delivered the kind of flexible performance Zeffren required. "They can be three different lights, as needed: wash lights, hard-edged fixtures or beams," he explains. He also got multiple looks from a complement of Clay Paky A.leda B-EYE K20s. "They'll stand up to any wash light and also offer a world of effects, layers and kaleidoscopes. No other fixture does what B-EYEs do."
Another first-time Musikfest fixture was Chauvet's NEXT NXT-1 square shaped moving head LED panel, which Zeffren deployed as washes and for their unique animation effects. "I like their very narrow beam, which is good to have as an extra layer at concerts; it adds very nice intensity."
Robert Juliat Aramis followspots drew kudos from Zeffren. "They performed for 14 days with no complaints," he says. "The spots were positioned at least 150-200 feet from the stage and were just great."
Martin MAC Auras formed part of the custom rig for The Flaming Lips. "They were integrated into very elaborate video and VFX to light the band," Zeffren explains. Martin Atomic Strobes also delivered strobe effects in The Flaming Lips package.
A grandMA2 full-size console from WorldStage controlled the rig. "The grandMA2 has become an industry standard; any lighting designer is comfortable with it," Zeffren notes.
"Working with WorldStage is always a good experience, but especially on festivals where things tend to change at short notice," he says. "Whether it's 2 pm or 2 am I can always get someone at WorldStage by phone or email."
"WorldStage's lighting rigs and staff are top-notch," says ArtsQuest Sr. Vice President of Programming Patrick Brogan. "The company's professionalism, flexibility and thorough understanding of any and all the scenarios that might arise during our festival make them a great fit for our event and our main stage. Over 10 days, we may have 10 different lighting configurations, and WorldStage's setups are able to handle them all, helping ensure a dynamic show for our artists and our guests."
At WorldStage Terry Jackson was the account executive for Musikfest 2015.
WorldStage Inc., the company created by the merger of Scharff Weisberg Inc and Video Applications Inc, continues a thirty-year legacy of providing clients the widest variety of entertainment technology coupled with conscientious and imaginative engineering services. WorldStage provides audio, video and lighting equipment and services to the event, theatrical, broadcast and brand experience markets nationally and internationally.