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Stevie C’s Blog.

What I’ve been up to…

Roadie: lighting tech, stage crew, spot-op, sound engineer, DJ.

PITF 2014

August - September 2014

I was asked to design, supply & implement disco, mood & festoon lighting for PITF 2014 - to be held on private land out in the middle of nowhere. PITF is a now-annual invite-only event whose theme/format changes a bit every year, but is essentially still a big party in a field. Instead of the usual single night, it was announced that the party would run over 3 days, thus allowing me to spread my workload out.

I won’t bore you, but suffice it to say that I had a selection of old-school sequencer pods and halogen moonflowers, club scanners, LED twisters, lasers, 250+ meters of LED & filament fairy strings, EPISTAR LED flood lights, a smoke machine, 4 festoon harnesses, paper lanterns, harlequin bulbs, hand-painted (by me) bulbs, a 16" mirror ball, Par cans and 300 meters of cabling.

Stevie C’s coloured stripy hand-painted light bulbs, as used for PITF 2014
Stevie C’s coloured stripy hand-painted light bulbs, as used for PITF 2014

It’s always best to do a reccy of the environment you will be working in (for structural, safety and power concerns); having attended several PITFs before and working from aerial surveillance photos, I was able to plot positions of lighting installations and cabling etc.

Due to the location of the event, the multiple sources of music would be of no concern to anybody. There was also no need to worry about taping cables down - as they were buried instead. Turns out I had to worry about a guy urinating on one of my LED lights, I dare him to try that in a nightclub.

We hired 2 gen-sets from Martin Plant hire, and a third from an acquaintance of the host, to be used for the minimal load on the first night and throughout the weekend for general lighting. I’d brought along my handy Maplin plug-in power meter (having already earned its keep) to test for rogue voltages and frequencies. The hire gen-sets were slow to react to a sudden peak power demand - most notable when a refrigerator in the food tent clicked in, as the supply voltage dipped to 197V, and took its time reaching 220V again. My lights using halogen lamps and analog logic seemed to not mind.

Stevie C’s Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: festoons with paper lanterns and my hand-painted light bulbs, LED strands on posts
Stevie C’s Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: festoons with paper lanterns and my hand-painted light bulbs, LED strands on posts

The dipping voltage of the second gen-set wreaked havoc with the Peavey IPR power amps. A vocalist kept asking me to turn his monitor up because there was nothing in it. Using my headphones and PFL/AFL, I could hear lots being sent to his monitor. After getting his wife out my face, I went to check the amp rack, and found to my horror that the monitor power amp was tripping and power cycling - which would explain his dead monitor. My power meter was reporting a voltage range of 162V-222V and a frequency range of 42-51Hz. We switched to the crank-start genset that was several decades old, which ran everything perfectly.

Photos: Day & Night

Stevie C’s Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: LED fairy strings and LED flood lights
Stevie C’s Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: LED fairy strings and LED flood lights
Stevie C’s Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: LED light strands and festoons with paper lanterns and coloured bulbs
Stevie C’s Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: LED light strands and festoons with paper lanterns and coloured bulbs

Some of the comments I received from party-goers included “it looked fantastic, just like Christmas!”.

Stevie C’s Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: clear festoons, RGB LED floodlights, colour LED fairy strings in chill out tent
Stevie C’s Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: clear festoons, RGB LED floodlights, colour LED fairy strings in chill out tent

I installed LED fairy strings in the compost bog enclosures for general lighting, but didn’t fancy taking a photo of them.

Stevie C’s Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: stage disco lighting with a mirror ball, smoke machine, club scanners, festoons and fairy strings
Stevie C’s Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: stage disco lighting with a mirror ball, smoke machine, club scanners, festoons and fairy strings
Stevie C’s Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: stage disco lighting with a mirror ball, smoke machine, club scanners, festoons and fairy strings
Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: LED RGB flood lights under clear perspex DJ bar
Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: festoons with paper lanterns and coloured painted bulbs
Disco, Festoon & Mood lighting at PITF 2014: food tent with blue & purple LED floodlighting

As with every party I’m working at (however casually), I missed certain things: the water slide, the sweat lodge, The Bucky Rage and lots of banter. Unfortunately, I didn’t miss the wasps. At least I got to relax in front of the bonfire, which I’ve edited to look like a Kasabian album cover, or something…

Stevie C relaxing in front of a bonfire I’ve edited to look like a Kasabian album cover

Problems: Gen-sets, Wasps and people constantly moving my tools around as they’re “in the way”.

Apparently, I’m someone with “textbook Asperger’s” (uh-oh), as I love lights and get pretty obsessive about certain things.

One More Thing…

An ardent fan on the Bon Scott Statue Facebook page asked: “Do you support Bon’s Erection?”

If only there was an award for procrastination; the awards show would probably be on permanent hiatus.

I’ve been presented with the Kisimul award for volunteering at the HebCelt Festival.

I’ve been listening to (and indeed playing): Todd Terje, Tom Jones, Bryan Ferry, Happy Mondays, Chic, Blancmange, Primal Scream, The Cure, Lady Gaga, Fatboy Slim, Rory Gallagher and The Who.


Time to turn my bed into a fort.