Professional Lighting & Production - Summer 2017 - Page 18

a sense, Panic! At the Disco’s fifth and most recent studio album, Death of a Bachelor, finds the band coming full circle. Whereas its predecessor, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, saw the quasi-theatrical rock outfit shift towards a darker, synth-heavy sound, their latest builds on that while simultaneously return- ing to the upbeat, more rock-centric stylings of their earlier material. It’s simultaneously grandiose and easy to digest – sonically rich yet undeniably accessible. Basi- cally, it’s the pinnacle of their artistic evolution, tapping into each era of their expansive 13-plus-year career. It’s fitting, then, that the band’s recently wrapped Death of a Bachelor tour would be their most elaborate and dynamic to date. Playing off of Panic!’s twisted caba- ret image, the set design – which favoured LED video walls instead of physical set pieces – included five LED video “chandeliers,” appointments like gold-painted lad- ders spanning the rear wall, and the addition of a horn section for a classy, sophisticated aesthetic that could sway from a Great Gatsby-inspired ‘30s motif to ‘50s Rat Pack swagger to lavish modernity with ease. The production design was the product of a collaboration between Montreal-based creative firm Lüz Studio and the band’s camp, including lighting designer Alex Specht, and the striking visuals did the band justice for their largest-scale headlining run to date. The Design Lüz Studio had previously worked with Panic! At The Disco on their 42-date co-headlining run with Weezer in summer 2016. That tour was something of a precursor to this one, with the band performing a set list favouring songs from the new album while also revisiting hits from their back catalogue. “The Weezer co-headliner was kind of a warm- up phase for us,” comments Specht, Panic!’s lighting designer for the past four years. “[Lüz Studio] got to know the show and the differences between the songs on the album and how they come off live, because it’s a completely different dynamic.” For the proper Death of a Bachelor headlining run, Panic!’s management again invited Lüz Studio to submit a bid for the design. “It was pretty much carte blanche; there wasn’t anything specific they wanted to see,” begins Matthieu Larivée, the founder and head designer with Lüz Studio. “Basically, we knew the band and we knew their energy. 18 • PROFESSIONAL LIGHTING & PRODUCTION By Andrew King Photos by Todd Kaplan We knew it was an arena tour and that it was selling well, so it was easy to pitch ideas because, instead of a general production design, we did our proposal song by song.” Lüz was awarded the contract in mid-December 2016, with the 36-date American tour kicking off on Feb. 24 th , 2017 – “so it was pretty tight,” Larivée puts in. When Lüz was starting work on their design for the Weezer run, one of the first things they received to inform their direction was a photo of Panic! frontman Brendon Urie in a “very classy-looking tuxedo,” and Larivée adds they were also instructed to play off of the album title and theme. “We wanted a very dynamic production value for each song,” shares Larivée – “very slick, but also very dynamic, so we could play with lighting and 3D content and be versatile with the architecture.” This time out, the desired overall aesthetic was similar but with some evolution. Instead of a photo, this time, Lüz received an advanced look at the band’s new logo – a mysterious cult-inspired mark that belongs in a Dan Brown novel. “We played with that and tried to mix everything, so the back catalogue fits with the new era,” Larivée explains. “So every time we played with that cult-like logo, there’s architecture and visuals behind it, so we can do a mix of the band’s different eras.” Once the contract was awarded, Lüz and the Panic! camp wasted little time diving into design refinements, going back-and-forth with ideas and