To celebrate the release of their new album Concrete and Gold, Foo Fighters kicked off their world tour in summer 2017. Starting off on the European festival circuit, Concrete and Gold evolved into a full arena show. With the tour in it’s last leg, Video Programmer and Screens Director Andy Babin talks to Notch about reacting instantaneously to a band that loves to shake up a set -list.
Working closely with Lighting Designer Dan Hadley, Andy began programming for a show with endless variables. The three hour marathon sets by Foo Fighters were set-listed, but it was unlike Grohl to ever stick with them. The design of the show had to suit both festivals and stadiums, with enough wow to rock the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury. In addition to this, the production would have to be flexible enough to allow for late load-ins once the Foo’s new album dropped.
Concrete and Gold would be the first tour going live with disguise’s Gx1. With Notch already integrated into disguise’s server, Andy began to set-up a real-time workflow. With a large portion of the show consisting of I-Mag Andy began to render out a few looks with Notch: “I was teasing Dan with what the software could do”.
“During production rehearsals we used the NDI send a lot. I’d have my laptop at front of house outputting Notch over NDI into d3 to the wall. It was great to be able to quickly try out new ideas live and get Dan’s feedback.”
Before playing Lucavsala Festival in Latvia production scrapped a lot of the stage props in favour of I-Mag. During an overnight programming session Andy re-programmed all the I-Mag processing using Notch.
“We haven’t looked back since. It’s such a powerful system. I know we’ve barely scratched the surface of Notch’s capabilities. We’re still finding the secrets and will continue to do so for the rest of the tour. It is endlessly remarkable”
After a successful headline at Glastonbury the production began prepping for the world tour. For their arena shows the team cranked up the stage design with additional lights and bespoke screens. Most notably they introduced a wall of ROE Hybrid 18 LED screens and a flying diamond made from 20’ x 20’, 9mm Winvision Air 9 video tiles.
With a real-time workflow the Concrete and Gold world tour ran 100% live, no click, no timecode, no tracks. Live and real-time source material generate all the visuals. Notch film grading and FX are used throughout the three hour gig to mix up I-Mag looks. Notch and Dante work in unison to create audio reactive features such as spectrum analyzer meters and particle emitters. Babin was happy to find that ‘the combination of software gave us an extremely low latency processing chain, probably the lowest latency we’ve ever seen.’
Andy Babin tells us ‘Run was the productions intro to notch and programming this track was one of my favourite moments. We had just gotten the new album during programming, and Run was the first track on the album. I started playing with some noise/distortion on the classic “FF” logo and it just went from there. Everything about the song just screamed “Gritty distorted notch” to me. We pushed everything to 11 and it just worked. One of my favorite things to do in notch is push sliders way past their predefined range and see what happens, and this was a prime example of that paying off.’
Foo Fighters have been opening shows with ‘Run’ and the songs loud and distorted aesthetic set the audience up for quite a show.
“The tour is ever evolving, Dan and I are always experimenting with new ideas, and notch is great for the ability to quickly prototype an idea.”