Ask anyone involved in the EDM (electronic dance music) scene and they’ll tell you, “It’s all about the music.” While that may be true, it’s also all about the stage setup—from the amazingly creative booths that house all of your favorite EDM DJs to the mind-bogglingly beautiful laser and LED light displays it’s definitely a good time to be a lighting designer!
All around the world, both festival organizers and DJs themselves are trying to constantly push the barriers of laser light displays and all for the enhanced experience of the concertgoer. In this article, we’re going to take a look at six of the most stupefying laser light displays by DJs who aren’t strangers to dropping the bass!
1. Avicii’s The Head
Being one of the best-known EDM DJs in the business means you’ve got to remain relevant in both sound and color. Avicii’s “The Head” remains one of the more astounding of the DJ’s creations. The booth is an immense, 17-foot tall head fully equipped with glittering lights, fantastical lasers and an LED backdrop. The Head was created by Heavy Industries and designed so the entire top is able to fly off to allow the DJ to glide over the crowd! All the lights were designed and conceptualized by PRG, a leading global event tech provider.
2. Daft Punk’s Pyramid
It wouldn’t be a list of world famous DJ setups without the mention of the quintessential household DJ duo Daft Punk. Their pyramid is one of the most famous setups of all time, debuting at Coachella in 2006, persisting through most of their career and, in 2016, being named the best Coachella set of all time.
The pyramid boasts lasers, projectors, and LEDs, all linked directly into the DJ booth so the crew (or Daft Punk themselves) can change the lights on the fly. Martin Phillips at Bionic League designed the pyramid as well as many other iconic DJ setups!
3. DJ Shadow’s Shadowsphere
Not often known for elaborate stage displays, DJ Shadow’s Shadowsphere proved to be an excellent way for the enigmatic producer to introduce more production value to his live shows. The setup was simple but effective—DJ Shadow stands in what amounts to a giant white egg while laser, LED and video (most conceived and designed by DJ Shadow himself) are projected on the orb.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a DJ set without a backdrop of laser and LED motion lights to accompany the visuals projected onto the Shadowsphere!
4. Pretty Lights’ Towers
The career of Pretty Lights had a sharp upswing—not content just to be a producer and beatmaker, Pretty Lights decided that he wanted to be a full-blown, full-time EDM DJ. It wouldn’t have been possible without Greg Ellis, AKA the Lazer Shark. Ellis has designed all of Pretty Lights’ setups to date but it wouldn’t have been possible without a crack team of engineers behind him.
The “towers” was one of Pretty Lights’ most popular stage setups with kinetic mapping (when the lights move with the beat of the music) for 11 towers of various heights positioned all across the stage. The mapping was done by admired light engineers Imaginex and was one of the first real-time 3d panel mapping performances in concert history.
5. Deadmau5’s The Cube
Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) is another one of those mega-popular DJs who uses ostentatious stage setups to augment what might otherwise just be a guy on stage pushing nobs around. His cube rig, then, is just as iconic as his trademark mouse head. The premise seems somewhat simple: a giant cube decorated with LED panels, an elaborate lighting component with Zimmerman at the center.
The cube has gone through many changes over the years and is currently at version 2.1. This version was designed and engineered by TAIT, who has produced some of the most iconic stage shows of all time—from U2 to How to Train Your Dragon Live. It will be interesting to see how Deadmau5’s cube evolves as the years go by.
6. Flying Lotus’s Layer 3
Flying Lotus is known more for his groundbreaking and genre-defying music but his stage setups are quickly gaining notoriety as well. His Layer 3 is a great example of just how far he’s willing to push the boundaries to give the people what they want!
Layer 3 is essentially a multilayered set of screens that create a 3D effect with Lotus squished into the center. Two separate members of his production team control the screens positioned on either side of the DJ. The display was designed and engineered by pioneering firm Teaching Machine with psychedelic lasers and other visuals helping to get the crowd in the mood.
The world of EDM has never been hotter with DJs jockeying to be less just a button pushing MP3 machine and more an entire concert experience reminiscent of the elaborate rock n’ roll stage setups of the early 80s and 90s. Even if you don’t like the music, it’s worth it to head out to some of these shows just to see the amazing lights!