I sniffed around thinking there might already be a thread or sticky about this, and if there is and I overlooked it, point me in the right direction and stop reading here.

Anyways, my band's been playing shows around here for the past year or so and we have a pretty solid following and everything, we all have fairly good stage presence, but we've been thinking about what we can do to take our live show to the next level? I've been thinking a little light-show type deal. I don't know the first damn thing about lights or controllers or how to get the lights to follow the music or anything, so I'm just looking for some cheap/easy suggestions.

There are only two legitimate venues around our town that we play at (legitimate doesn't include the random churches, VFW posts, houses, etc.) and one of them has a light pane with a controller, but they never use it unless a huge act is in town (in which that act normally has their own show, anyways). So I think that incorporating a light show well help us stand-out and overall just improve our performance.

Any ideas/helpful links/anything of that nature? We do have a few roadies to help us execute the show if need be.
I would strongly suggest talking to a local concert/stage lighting company for advice. Probably get them to provide lighting for a couple shows to see the effect before making a serious purchasing decision. The sky is the limit where you can go with this, so be very sure about what you are considering. Even if all you are looking at is 4 or so cans on stands, they are usually cheap to rent.

Concert lighting is not something you get your buddy to do for you, there are serious power and safety considerations involved. You are going to be putting heavy metal objects in the air drawing at least a few hundred watts each.
Last edited by Quintex at Jul 6, 2010,
I don't exactly have huge metal scalpels or anything in mind, I was thinking a lot more small scale. More in the way of the size of flood lights and strobes and things like that. We tend to travel a lot, so anything huge would be out of the question.

this is the kind of thing I was thinking about, but less intense on the strobes.
Strobes are easy, since they are available at some electronics stores (I think we built our first ones from kits in the mid 70s). You can easily remote switch them.

There are some really cool programable LED lights now available like http://sldlighting.com/shopexd.asp?id=2939. I have used things like this, but not this particular type. These are usually controlled by a DMX controller, which start around the $250 USD mark and the panels are $100 and up.

The swinging flashlight on a rope or wire was kinda funky and fun. The lights on the mask at the back of the stage is easily done with christmas lights (bonus being they are generally already considered "safe" due to their UL, ULC or CSA ratings they require just to be sold.

They are using house flood lights there. I definitely stand by my first statement that soon as you start hanging your own cans you should get a lighting house to show you how to properly rig them. Nothing worse than having a light stand come down mid show, not to mention a slight liability issue if it hits someone on the way down.
Thanks for the help, those black-lights look like a good place to start, but I definitely need to get to a lighting shop so I can put my hands on some things and see how they work. I'd like to experiment with the sensitivity of sound activation modes, which might even cut out the need for extra stage hands. If not, what do you think the odds are that we could get the entire set-up dialed in from one controller (maybe 2 or 3 blacklights and a strobe)?
A DMX controllable strobe generally runs about 3 times the price of a basic club strobe. But the basic club strobe will still need some kind of remote control.

If you are are going to get a DMX controller for other lights, then just get a good high powered club strobe or a LED strobe. A decent $250 controller should be able to run 12 or so appliances depending on how complex they are.

The whole gimcrack is easier to understand when someone is demonstrating how it works to you live.
Last edited by Quintex at Jul 6, 2010,