Photo: Peter Wintin

The Fort Gate at Fort Canning Hill in Singapore provided a stunning backdrop for the 2018 City 65 Music Festival. The location, renowned for its lush greenery and expansive lawns has become a hub for cultural and creative activities and a venue of choice for many outdoor events. Craig Burridge was asked to co-ordinate the Main Stage production and lighting design for the one day event by organisers Michael Spinks and Rachel Mason from City 65 Music Pte Ltd. The main stage line-up featured five diverse bands, three playing in daylight and the final two in the dark, for which Craig used 50 Robe fixtures – 24 x Linees, 10 x ColorStrobes, 6 x PixelPATTs and 10 x LEDWash 600s – positioned prominently on the rig.

Photo: Peter Wintin

The venue is managed by the National Parks, and there are some strict rules and regulations designed to protect the environment. No production elements can be within 2 metres of any tree, so the 9 metre wide by 8 metre deep stage was allocated a space between two, right in front of a ‘heritage tree’ which “made a fantastic backdrop” explained Craig. He had a free creative hand with the design with a few important prerequisites including that it was a functional and practical space for the bands and audio / backline crews to achieve quick changeovers. This meant leaving the stage floor relatively clear.

In addition to this, his aesthetic goal was to provide three distinct but related visual themes that would work for the diverse genres of music covered by the final three bands on the bill – hard rock / metal, indie jazz and progressive rock respectively. Power is also a consideration on the site as they have to use generators, so being able to use LED fixtures allowed the generator size to be smaller, and conserve diesel – a bonus for the environment and the show budget! The strong natural tree setting also played a part in the look of the stage. Craig wanted to keep the sides of the stage uncovered and feature the intricate branches and leaf formations, pulling them into the picture. This approach also helped the stage to appear much bigger!

Photo: Peter Wintin

The 4-legged ground support was trimmed at 7 metres to maintain rectangular form to the stage, and 2 and 3 metre drop bars were used on the back ground support truss and 2 metre ones on the mid ground support truss, which enabled lights to be more dynamically positioned. Each drop bar was rigged with two Robe Linees and one pixelPATT. Three LEDWash 600s were on both the mid and front trusses, with two more each side on the downstage edges of the floor, utilised as the main band washes. Four Robe ColorStrobes on the front truss made highly effective blinders and Craig positioned two more on the ground behind the stage to illuminate the heritage tree and make it pop out.

Chosen for these tasks for their brightness and superior colour mixing facilities, they are also waterproof!  The spectacular tree measures 7 metres wide at the base – with multiple trunks – and 20 metres high and is very dramatic. Being able to light it with just one fixture a side meant that all the shadows and its intricate form were beautifully illuminated.

Four 2-metre sections of vertical truss on the deck were each populated with three Linees and a ColorStrobe.

Photo: Peter Wintin

The flown Linees and the pixelPATTs were all hung on 2m & 3m drop bars, and used for eye-catching effects. LEDWash 600s are one of Craig’s go-to luminaires. He covered the essential stage positions effortlessly with the ten fixtures and the was able to zoom in or out and highlight the musicians with the floor based ones, as well as wash out and saturate the stage with colour. Linees were selected as a non-standard fixture! Rather than use ‘traditional’ beams which Craig feels have been done to oblivion, he instead used the Linees in full pixel mode 3 but programmed as a light source rather than video mapped). He likes the „blade“ look of the Linee beams when they are all in a tight zoom, giving a “wide flat slice of light that is very different from a typical round beam”. His favourite Linee effects are a pan / rotate with a single pixel beam, and having the fixtures at angles where the wide swath of light is created by all the cells being in a sharp zoom. Another one is a wide zoom look for total saturation of the air on a stage or in a space.

The Linees worked excellently with the pixelPATT chases.

Photo: Peter Wintin

The pixelPATTs were also placed to work as a stand-alone visual effect, rather than to light up the stage, and Craig spent considerable time programming chases so they appeared to rotate or move left / right and up / down. They proved “great for the pastel palette looks I ran for one of the headliners”. Craig operated all the lighting himself using a WholeHog FullBoar3. For third on the bill metal band Terminal Cry, who played in daylight, he chose all-white lighting with lots of beams created from this punchy selection of fixtures. They were followed by co-headliners, neo-vintage soul band The Steve McQueens which were lit primarily in pastel shades. By now it was getting darker so the Linees and PATTs were used to fill the space with abstract flowing shapes that morphed and moved with the groove. Co-headliners Addy Cradle closed the show with an intensive prog rock performance which Craig lit with lots of saturated colours onto the tree and from the flown LEDWash 600s, with the floor-based LEDWash 600s contrasting in warm or cold whites, while the Linees produced big asymmetric static looks interspersed with pixel chases and layers of different shapes.

Craig has been using Robe products in his work for some time and really likes all the Robe products he’s seen and used in recent years.

The lighting equipment was supplied by Singapore rental company CSP Productions. “They were brilliant” stated Craig, “really going the extra miles to get it all up and working when time was really tight”.  Craig had just one evening of on-site programming. The event was a big success and generated lots of positive comments about the look and vibe. The general perception is that City 65 Music Festival is a local band festival that matches the production values of any of the big international festivals staged in the country.

“The Robe fixtures were a big part of making it look really outstanding,” concluded Craig.