LD Graham Rolak is reunited with Entec as American alt-rockers deliver a visual feast…

August and September saw Californian outfit Incubus cross the Atlantic for a heavily subscribed month-long tour of Europe including seven dates in the UK and Ireland, with Entec proud to be invited along as lighting services provider.

Founded in 1991 by singer Brandon Boyd, drummer José Pasillas and guitarist Mike Einzinger, Incubus have hardly been off the road since last year’s release of 8, their suitably titled eighth studio album, which earned a profile-boosting No.4 position in the Billboard chart. A loose fit in the alt-rock camp, the band and their loyal audience – ranging from head-banging metal fans to cool hip-hop devotees – came together in a wild frenzy in Brixton where, three songs into the first of two shows at the O2 Academy, ‘Megalomaniac’ virtually tore the roof off.

The tour consisted of Incubus’ own headline gigs in a variety of venues from clubs and large theatres, to quality slots at festivals such as Pukkelpop where the band’s European itinerary kicked off on August 17th.

This was an opportunity for Entec to once again team up with LD Graham Rolak, who explained: “It was in 2014, when I came over with Deftones, that I first had the pleasure of working with Entec. They’ve now done about four tours with the company on this side of the pond. Their relationship with PGP [Premier Global Productions] is very strong and when they brought up Entec’s name for this Incubus tour, I was more than happy. There had never been any issues in the past; everyone and everything was reliable, and they have good techs who make my life easier!”

While Incubus’ incendiary music was pressing all the right buttons, Graham’s extraordinary lighting design skills – also previously applied to Primus and System Of A Down – were also to blame for much of the feverish reaction.Incubus at Brixton

Fixtures

Entec’s equipment for the run was split between two trucks, one of which carried a two-universe floor package containing 12 Clay Paky Sharpys, eight Viper Profiles, eight Aura XBs and six Atomic 3000s. Used initially for the festival performances in Belgium and Italy, these fixtures also travelled to the rest of the dates in the schedule and were joined by a flown package from the second truck.

Lee Stennett, Entec’s senior lighting technician, assumed the role of dimmer tech and arrived on the scene at Berlin’s Columbiahalle, where the flown rig made its first appearance. These additions included three 40ft truss sections above the front, back and middle of the stage with increased quantities of the floor lighting elements, plus 18 2-Lite Molefay blinders and a full rigging package.

“The style of lighting generated by Graham is very much in tune with Incubus’ music, particularly with the way he times the accents with bumps,” observed Lee. “The Sharpys on the back truss created some brilliant beam effects as did four banks of four Auras that performed cross-beam splays just like the old school ACLs did on Queen in the ’70s. Sometimes you just can’t beat the classic looks!”

Graham has a very modern view about lighting design: “In 2018, your look has to be Instagrammable. If someone’s going to take a photo of your show with their phone, it’s got to look good every time because that’s what the band sees. They don’t get to watch their own shows so social media is their only immediate reference to how they did the night before. If they’re cool with it, so am I.”

While the LD carried his own grandMA MA2 full-size desk, Entec made sure to add an MA2 light as a back-up along with a basic control package containing an MA NPU [Network Processing Unit] and brand new Luminex DMX8 Mk.II convertors, originally purchased for the Alice In Chains tour, enabling connection to ArtNet where preferable.

Graham Rolak was also running his own media server containing psychedelia-drenched content produced by his wife Jessica. This content fed four vertical screens on the ground while a flown, horizontal screen was supplied by Transition Video, sub-hired by Entec to complete the visual production. Video director Zephyn Kercher, the son of production manager Eddie Kercher, sent live camera shots back to Graham’s own Resolume server at FOH.

“When you work with a band that relies heavily on video, you don’t want to get too busy with the lights,” Graham noted, “so I prefer to go with still, photogenic looks with slow transitions that don’t divert attention when there is something important on the screens.”

According to Lee, some of the venues turned out to be quite an experience for the crew. “One show in Vienna was in a very unusual location,” he said. “It was in the courtyard of a dilapidated industrial space that the organisers had turned into an outdoor live performance stage. Although this was over a fairly small area, it was pretty funky and the impact was huge.

“The Mehr Theatre in Hamburg was more like a small arena in terms of its size [3,500+ capacity] and the way it’s laid out, and then we had the two gigs at the O2 Academy Brixton which were amongst those for which we deployed the entire rig.”

“I’ve played Brixton a few times and having two days in which to really use the space was very rewarding,” commented Graham, “and it was great to have Lee’s support throughout Europe. He’s a top guy who knows his stuff.”

Incubus’ team also includes lighting crew chief Andy ‘Fig’ Figueroa who looked after the lighting design for the opening act, the enigmatic Ecca Vandal.

The European leg came to a close on September 11th with a euphoric performance at Dublin’s Bord Gais Energy Theatre, before the band resumed business in the United States.

www.incubushq.com

Photography © Joe Okpako / projoephotography & Jullian Schratter