John Garberson and Creative BackStage Pump Up Powerhouse with Chauvet Professional

April 1, 2024

“Empty space is never wasted space,” Andy Warhol once observed. The pioneer of pop art knew whereof he spoke. By carefully inserting blank spaces in his work, he gave its emotional power room to grow and flourish.

John Garberson, whose artistic bent goes in the direction of lighting design and photography, followed this philosophy recently when creating the lighting rig for the Powerhouse Hip-Hop celebration at the Desert Diamond Arena outside Phoenix.

performance photo
photos: John Garberso

Garberson and his team at Creative BackStage positioned a potent lighting rig on the 60-foot wide by 40-foot deep stage, using fixtures supplied by LIT Lighting. At the same time, however, they made sure to arrange things so there was a generous amount of open space at the stage’s centre. This gave headliners Kevin Gates, Tech N9ne, Young Nudy and other performers a chance to standout, and connect to the sellout crowd of 20,000 without distractions.

While the hip-hop stars performed their art against the “blank canvas” they were surrounded and supported by dynamic lighting displays above them and to their sides. Principal lighting designer James Simpson and the visiting LDs used a rig anchored by 48 Chauvet Professional fixtures to create a rich variety of powerful, fast-moving looks that reflected the personalities and musical styles of the artists on stage.

“Our stage lent itself to creating a lot of majestic looks with its 40-foot high front truss,” said Garberson. “We wanted to give the LDs a variety of lighting fixtures with different performance features, so they could go in any direction they wanted.”

Included in the Powerhouse show rig were 24 Rogue R2 Wash and Maverick MK2 Spot fixtures, as well as eight Strike 4 blinder and eight Rogue R3 Beam units. Garberson and L2 Matthew Berg arranged these fixtures in different configurations on overhead trussing and on five-foot and seven-foot truss stands to create a wide variety of light angles.

At the front, they used 12 Rogue R2 Washes and four STRIKE 4 blinders. They placed strobes, along with four Strike 4 units, four Maverick MK2 Spots and four washes mid-stage, while positioning four MK2 Washes, four Rouge R3 Beams and strobes upstage. To accent audience connections, they had16 fixtures on floor truss.

“James Simpson and the other lighting designers created some really captivating looks with this rig,” said Garberson. Those looks were so “captivating,” that Garberson put on his other artistic hat and took some stellar photos of the concert. At the centre of each was a space occupied by a charismatic artist surrounded by a dazzling field of light.

performance photo
photos: John Garberso