The London Ale House
After doing larger venues for two years, Witness decided to return to the freshly remodeled London Ale House for the summer. This provided some massive challenges for our crew, especially regarding lighting. We actually ended going down for a planning session during the winter to figure out how we would do the next summer.
With a nine foot ceiling above the stage, using 30 to 40 thousand watts of light would be a problem as it would block the view of the stage as well as wreck the appearance of the restaurant during the day. The answer was to put the lighting grid, dimmers, power distribution and cabling on the real ceiling which was 14 feet off the ground. We then removed all ceiling tiles that blocked lighting and replaced them with Plexiglas panels! The result was a clean look that still provided the lighting fans had become accustom to.
By hiding a concert light show in a club, we could pull off many of the same effects we used in larger venues:
Sound was no less challenging. We decided to put the main speakers against the wall, instead of at the front of the band. This sounds simple but is actually very tricky as the onstage microphones are now in front of a wall of sound that they have to be isolated from! The answer there was to go to extreme lengths to equalize both the system, and all 28 independent channels so that no feedback would occur. This was only possible due to the fantastic talent of John Higgins our sound engineer. It required a very active mix to insure nothing got out of control.
Below are pictures taken with a power flash that show some of the solutions we came up with. (1983)
Here are some screen captures of what things looked like at night, featuring Eric Rudy 1985 (Sorry, small photos only due to video capture)
One of the larger venues Witness played seasons at was a club located in South Wildwood called The Playpen. It was basically a multi-tiered theater in the round. (or at least a semi-circle) It also provided some unique challenges in the sound and lighting departments. Once again, a winter planning trip was needed! Most of the pictures below were taken from the back of the second of three tiers.
With no available area for front lighting lifts, the 40 foot front truss would have to be hung from the building superstructure. In addition, the whole show needed to be taken down and put up each week in very little time. The answer was to use Genie air lifts on the rear truss for a fast drop. The front truss would require Genie super lifts to get it up there, and to take it down. Cable runs were left in place so that only the hardware had to be moved.
With a very wide club that is multi-tiered, getting an even sound with no hot spots or dead areas is hard. To achieve this, the sound system was divided into four locations. To the left of the stage, there were 2 folded horn sub bass cabs, 4 mid bass cabs, one 2x12 midrange cabinet, and 4 high frequency horns. There was a duplicate stack at the right of the stage. On the floor in front of the stage were 4 more folded horn sub bass cabs. Now, here was the tricky part- Flown, up behind the front lighting truss were 4 more mid bass cabinets, 2 more 2x12 midrange cabs, and 4 more high frequency horns! We used the Genie super-lifts to get them up there. That part of the sound system remained flown the whole summer! By mid summer, we were able to set the whole thing up in two hours, and pack it up in 55 minutes!