Tucson, AZ – Set in the vast expanse of the Sonoran Desert in early February, the Gem and Jam Festival has a way of inspiring flights of imagination. Originally an after-party for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the four day electronic music festival, which this year featured stars like The Trancident and The Floozies, pays tribute to its roots by embellishing its grounds with a captivating and sparkling array of crystalline artwork.
This enchanting atmosphere was readily apparent at the Festival’s Onyx Stage, the only indoor stage of the four gem-inspired stages, set to go off at closing of the mainstage and continue to sunrise. The building was centered in a fantastical courtyard that housed an eclectic mix of sculptures and vendors. The stage was bejeweled with enormous clear quartz matrixes, large wooden panels riddled with intricate cutouts of coyotes, symmetric crystal and interweaving geometric shapes.
Cody Lisle brought out the full aesthetic qualities of the stage and its surroundings with a richly colored and deeply textured lighting and set design that featured a collection of CHAUVET Professional and CHAUVET DJ fixtures supplied by LIT Lighting.
“The idea was to create an organic look that blended with the surroundings, and not just have a standard cookie cutter stage design,” said Lisle. “I put a lot of effort into even small details and tried to put meaning behind my design so it contributed to the overall atmosphere of the festival. To give the stage texture and depth, I used these custom panels created by Alaska Piper from Coyote Prism, and positioned them stage right and stage left, and also created a bezel for the upstage video wall”
Lisle created a diffused glow by illuminating the panels, which had transparent cloth over their cutouts, with COLORband PiX linear RGB wash fixtures. “I positioned 12 of the COLORbands behind and just forward of the panels to give them an iridescent look,” he said. “I also arranged four of the fixtures on the deck for backlighting. The result was to create a soft color wash that made the stage look inviting.”
Complementing the rich colors were gobos and aerial effects created with four Rogue R2 Spots, positioned two apiece above a video wall and on downstage truss columns. “The low power draw and high output of the R2 was great for this application,” said Lisle. “I got a lot of good looks from the Rogue’s gobos, particularly when we ran them across the panels. Then shooting them in the air gave us concert looks. We had a relatively small stage deck, but the Rogue’s beam angle gave us good coverage. The Rogues and the COLORbands played off each other very nicely.”
Working on the smaller stage created challenges for Lisle when hanging his panels. “We had to cantilever each panel 12 inches from the truss to avoid casting shadows on the transparent cutouts,” he said. “A lot of credit for pulling off this level of design on a small stage goes to my team, James Simpson, Kurt Crosley, Alaska Piper and Travis Tainter.”
Lisle and his team also relied on Chauvet to enhance the natural beauty of the area surrounding the outside Quartz Stage and central festival corridor. He used a collection of 30 various SlimPAR LED par style fixtures to illuminate trees in the stage’s courtyard. “We focused on colorizing the leaves with some spillage on the trunks,” he said. “Whether you were looking at the trees from close up or far away on the other side of the festival, we wanted them to have an enchanting look – because magic was what this festival was all about.”