In 1991, an idea to help a local radio station set the path for what would end up as Germany’s greatest indoor rave – MAYDAY. Traditionally held on the night before May 1st, MAYDAY has been in residence since 1997 at Dortmund’s Westfalenhallen. Just as the ARENA in hall 1 represents Trance and softer sounds, so the EMPIRE in hall 3 draws fans of hard Techno and Electro.
Inside the EMPIRE it’s all about hard beats and massive sound levels – and the night is probably one of the longest. Approximately 14 hours of hard techno have become a benchmark for technology, and event lighting designer Roland Aberle knows the task. “Reliability, under high pressure and over a long period is what I expect from the fixtures – and I also need tools which allow creative design,” he said. “Techno is so much more than mindless ‘boom boom’: it’s thrilling, demanding and diverse. Forget about simple chases or uninspired lighting dimmed up and down – that’s absolutely not the deal here.”
One of the main components in Aberle’s design for this year’s MAYDAY was a giant matrix consisting of G-LEC Phantom 60 System. 54 of these frames where installed at the rear of the hall, right behind the stage and the DJs. The sheer size of this matrix was thrilling; nearly the complete back wall was covered – but equally dynamic was the way Aberle used the matrix.
Based on a custom-made soft- and hardware solution, Aberle was able to use G-LEC as a video screen equally to using it as a kind of lighting fixture. “We developed a Linux based control tool, which converted DMX values into DVI signals, and via a separate video mixer we routed different signals on the G-LEC matrix,” he said. “Using the converter, I was able to display colours or even effects from the lighting desk´s effect engine, mix them with visuals or any content provided from the VJs – or display dedicated videos. It was an exciting experience to use a G-LEC frame like a fixture with RGB colour scheme.”
The second major element of Aberle’s design was a massive amount of moving lights for the EMPIRE. Nearly half of them were GLP Impressions, in a mix consisting of normal Impression 90 and Impression RZ. 21 of the Impression 120 RZ Zoom formed a smaller kind of matrix inside the above G-LEC matrix and drew the audience´s attention to the stage, where famous DJs like Sven Väth, Jeff Mills or Rush rocked the house.
“The EMPIRE people want to be wowed by what they saw and heard,” explained Stefan Konstanty, head of production for Germany-based supplier Gahrens & Battermann. “They are very demanding in terms of lighting and sound technology.” With more than 15 years of experience in the techno scene, Konstanty knows what this type of audience expects, and is confident that this year’s MAYDAY — with Aberle’s inspired lighting design — provided another cerebral, pulsating experience.
Another premiere took place on the stage of the main floor in the Westphalenhalle. The so-called ARENA was fully packed with moving trusses, pyro effects, video screens and an impressive laser show all set up and managed by production manager Tim Brune of Cologne-based laserfabrik. Performers during the evening included acts such as Westbam, Paul van Dyk and, as live performers, the Members of Mayday.
Lighting designer Tim Franken placed ten Impression Spot One fixtures alongside the 48 Impression 90s, left and right of the stage. He was extremely impressed by the brand new LED fixtures: “We were using a lot of big moving lights with 1,200W light sources and more throughout the entire venue,” he said. “I knew that the Impression 90 could easily compete against those and but I was particularly impressed by the Spot One, and in particular its rich colour output. Thanks to the baseless design, we were able to use the units as a design element within our visual concept.”
Summing up, Kasper Gissel, on behalf of both GLP and G-LEC, said: “We are delighted that the G-LEC and GLP fixtures made such a dramatic impact at Germany’s leading rave event – and particularly that the Spot One passed its debut with flying colours. We are grateful to the LDs concerned for using our fixtures so creatively.”