April 14, 2004
Aerosmith has undoubtedly been one of America’s premier rock bands over the last three decades, a band with an admirable staying power that shows no signs of easing. Currently out on a 40-city North American tour in support of their 14th studio album, “Honkin’ On Bobo”, Aerosmith’s tour promises to be nothing short of spectacular with the band performing classic hits from their 30+ year career, as well as new material.
The band’s 2004 arena tour comes on the heels of their co-headlining tour with Kiss (MAC 2000 Wash, Profile, Atomics), which received critical acclaim from both fans and critics alike, and was one of 2003’s top-grossing concert outings.
This current tour sees Michael Keller as lighting designer with Nook Schoenfeld as Maxxyz programmer controlling a rig of Fourth Phase-supplied MAC 2000s and Atomic strobes as the main lighting units.
Nook and Maxxyz
Nook has 25 years as a touring professional on rock and roll shows under his belt and has been programming moving lights since 1985. Amazingly, he has programmed over 100 tours.
Nook first used the Maxxyz lighting console in the summer of 2003 on the Sprite Liquid Mix Festival before going out with Maxxyz on Kid Rock in January. With over 100 Maxxyz-controlled shows under his belt, he is one of the most experienced Maxxyz users. He comments, “I was one of the people Martin contacted last year about doing some beta testing on their project. They basically took a bunch of the finest programmers in the world into a room and showed us what the outside of the console (the hardware) would look like. They then asked all of us how we wanted the console to run and everyone voiced opinions. There are some unique features that each console has and I wanted the Maxxyz to be able to do some of the cool stuff that other consoles do. I wanted a new type of EFX engine as well. They´ve delivered almost everything I desired in a desk.”
Maxxyz “comfort factor”
Nook continues, ”Most cues I write have split timing in the parameters of the lights. The console treats time just like any other attribute of the light, something long overdue in lighting consoles. And this console has the best Effects generator, bar none. There is also the Fixture Filter function, which is a unique way of grabbing banks of lights or dividing your whole rig by groups of 3 or 4 in an instant. I´ve been begging other manufacturers for this for 10 years now.
”I have to say that I found the Martin ShowDesigner in the console to be a big plus. On Aerosmith, Mike and I wrote 35 songs in 5 long days. And we never saw the band play them live at rehearsals. Once we were done, Mike needed to practice running the songs so he could remember where to hit all the cues. While the technicians were loading in and out, Mike was off in a side room, listening to CD´s and playing back cues on the Maxxyz, getting his chops down.”
”What I like about Maxxyz is the comfort factor. I can´t explain it, but when I´m rocking behind this desk, it feels so right. Big fat faders and big soft keys.”
Pass it on
Nook teaches others the board as well, an easy process according to Nook. ”I taught Brad Teagen, the lighting director on Kid Rock, the console in one hour. It took Mike Keller about two hours to totally grasp everything on it, but he´s old. It´s really that easy.
”I have only had it lock up twice during a show, and that´s on over 100 live shows now! And if I ever have a problem the support team is right there on the other end of the phone. I get new software in 24 hours.”
The Maxxyz is controlling a Michael Keller-designed rig of 44 MAC 2000 Profile, 38 MAC 2000 Wash, 40 Atomic strobes, 6 Atomic Colors and conventionals. As you might expect for an Aerosmith show, color and movement are keys. Michael comments, “The system is designed to be very modular. The band likes to see a lot of truss moves so we have a lot of short sections of truss that are on a motor counting system that allows it to change shape during the show. We’re not carrying video, which is a nice thing from the lighting aspect because it makes it more of a dramatic lightshow.”
MAC 2000 Profile and Wash are spread liberally throughout the truss with 14 Profiles placed at floor position. Michael has also incorporated color punch from Martin Atomic Colors, which he describes as “really nice.” He uses them throughout the show spraying almost every one of the ten on board colors.Michael mentions that he has designed with Martin gear before and likes the 2000s which he finds “incredibly bright.” The support side has also been a plus. “The support is so dynamic – if there’s a problem they research it and find a solution to it, ”Michael states. “The Maxxyz support has been especially phenomenal with Jim Duke from the (Martin) Vegas office a big help.”