December 15, 2021
NASHVILLE—Rapper and songwriter Nate Feuerstein, more commonly known as NF, embarked on a massive amphitheater tour this past fall that showcased cutting-edge Martin Professional VDO Sceptron and MAC Quantum Wash fixtures with P3 system control, provided by Solotech.
Boasting several songs with hundreds of millions of streams––including the single “Let You Down,” which recently crossed one billion streams––NF is a multi-platinum-selling artist who has gained a dedicated following for tackling themes like vulnerability, faith and mental health in his music. This latest tour featured just Feuerstein and drummer Rico Nichols onstage, leaving plenty of room for Feuerstein to move around and display his electric showmanship. The tour’s lighting crew aimed to create a rig that enhanced and heightened Feuerstein’s energy for arena-sized venues while also maintaining an aesthetic use of shadows and darkness. To achieve this balance, Creative Director Chris Denholm and Lighting Designer Clay Joiner selected the highly versatile Martin VDO Sceptron LED video battens and the colorfully immersive MAC Quantum Wash lights.
“We tried to figure out how we could carry a show with just one guy on stage and how to put together a rig that would lend to Nate’s performing,” said Chris Denholm, Creative Director, Music Director, Production Design, NF. “Nate's very physical onstage; he runs around and ping pongs from place to place, so framing him properly has always been an important thing to do. Also, he’s a no-front-light artist; it's all silhouette and sidelight with him. So we really needed a powerful fixture for the sidelight.”
“We wanted something very symmetrical to reflect the style of his music,” added Clay Joiner, Lighting Designer, Creative Director, Production Design, NF. “He raps a lot about mental health and his journey through OCD, and so with that in mind, we wanted to create this space that wrapped around him and that looked bigger than it was by smashing everything together into a small zone and putting everything in boxes. When we were thinking about how we can do that framing, we immediately knew that the Sceptrons were a great choice for that.”
With 16-bit per color image processing technology, extensive pixel mapping and programming abilities, the Sceptron fixtures are a useful tool for anything from eye-catching video effects, colorful beams and more. Denholm, Joiner and the lighting crew used the Sceptrons to create a series of boxes above and alongside the stage with each box housing a group of wash and fixture lights, resulting in a heightened sense of scale. The Sceptrons’ next-generation mapping and programming abilities provided the lighting crew with enough versatility to follow the setlist’s emotional cues, whether through intense washes and strobes during high-energy moments or near-blackout shades for the more contemplative points. This versatility is why the NF lighting crew also used the Sceptrons on previous tours to form unique and memorable visual designs, ranging from a jail cell to a giant hand.
“I know it sounds funny but having a lateral texture as well as vertical texture like the square Sceptron boxes has so much more of a feel to it,” said Joiner. “When you're running content behind them like lights and video, you get so much more impact than if you're just running straight lines and there's no connection point. The whole rig feels so much more alive with those boxes, and there are a lot of moments that I love personally when the Sceptrons steal the show.”
Meanwhile, The MAC Quantum Washes offer Colorganics RGBW LED color mixing for saturated shades across the color spectrum and a 1:5 zoom for both tight beams and wide-spanning washes. The lighting crew placed the Quantum Washes side stage and used them in lieu of a front light in order to keep Feuerstein silhouetted while also providing enough power and coverage to make him visible even from the furthest seats in a given venue. Martin’s P3 visual control software also allowed the crew to control the Quantum Washes with ease thanks to its user-friendly interface and optimal processing power.
“Nate’s kind of a mythical figure––if you see images from the show, you rarely see his face,” said Denholm. “But at the same time, you have an amphitheater, or in some cases arenas, and you’ve got those fans that are sitting far back on the lawn. That's the 7,000th or 8,000th ticket purchased. They need to be able to see Nate even without front lighting, and so the Quantum Washes were the perfect way to make that happen.”