5 ways you can get creative with staging and lighting.
While you can always opt for a straight-forward, essentialist approach with staging and lighting, there is so much you can do creatively to use them as tools that will enhance your event. You can play with implied height and depth to convey whatever atmosphere you want your guests to step into. Likewise, the way you play with colour and texture affects how your guests interact in the space. While the simplest approach is to give musicians a clean, solid, flat surface to put their musical equipment on, beyond that, you can really dive in deeper to create something fantastic. Here are a few considerations to give you inspiration.
1. Consider the shape, colour and size of your staging.
There are a handful of moments throughout your event when your allocated performance area will be unoccupied. Specifically, think of how the space will look before your musicians begin their performance, after it ends, and during the musicians’ break times. You’ll want that area to continue the same visual story that threads throughout the rest of your event. When your musicians begin their performance, their presence should build on to that vibe, as if their music, their presence, and their dress, are additional brushstrokes of the artwork that is your event.
A fantastic application of this is in Jason James’ brand activation for Pandora’s ‘Shine’ Spring Summer launch. You can see that his event design incorporates staging that resembles giant, golden honeycombs – suspended on water – for dancers and a harpist to perform on. These honeycomb stages build on the visual story elements such that the performers are completely cohesive with event’s vibe, design scheme and overall experience for your guests.
2. Consider how elevated the musicians’ staging should be from the ground.
An elevated stage immediately creates a separation between musicians and guests, but you can use this creatively to emphasise the band as more of a feature piece in your event. For example, if you want to create a concert-like experience on the dance floor, that visual separation would really enhance what you are going for.
By contrast, you may want the music to play more of a secondary visual role. In which case, a subtle application would be to have a live singer in the corner with her band, dressed up to complement the floristry and setting. This sometimes suits better if you want to make more of a highlight on other aspects of your event, like the food, or dancers, or a conference speaker stage.
3. Consider the flooring underneath the band.
Should you should to not opt for a physical stage, there’s other things you could do to create extra visual dimension for the musician’s area. In some spaces, all you may need is a big, beautiful rug. If your venue is already really visually dynamic, you can find an area that is distinctive enough to create a subtle feature section, like an area with intricate tile work, for example. Whatever you choose, it will reinforce your visual narrative and enhance the atmosphere you are going for.
If you want to keep it simple, a clean, solid surface will do. If it’s a grassed area, our drummer generally will lay out a deep charcoal rug underneath the drums to prevent them from moving slightly during a performance. As long as it’s an area not harshly exposed to the weather elements (heavy rain or wind, or a burning sun), that approach would be enough.
Having the band in the centre of your event space will create a different experience than if they were by the bar, or situated near the restrooms, or at the venue entrance. Your first question would be this: how visually prominent do you want the band to be, and what role are they playing? Light acoustic music by large entrance doors sets the tone as guests arrive at your event and can even be a teaser for what is to come when they go inside. A party band by the bar encourages guests to dance. Wherever you place the musicians will shape how guests interact at your event.
Visually speaking, certain physical areas of your event should be more eye-grabbing than others. A wedding ceremony, for example, demands that the aisle and arbour at the end is the primary thing guests are to look at. In that situation, the musicians ought to be placed in an offside area that doesn’t visually compete with the ceremony arbour. If you are in a large ballroom, packed with thousands of guests ready to dance, it may be a fantastic idea to put the performers in the most prominent area of the hall. All of these considerations help you curate a space that encourages the ambience that you’ll want to see at your wedding, corporate or special event.
5. Consider how the lighting will complement the music.
Lighting completely affects how guests see everything. It can make some elements look more important, it can change the architecture, it can raise the ceiling of a room, or create a sense of theatre. It can also make you look better. When guests look amazing in a space, it will help them feel amazing at your event. The same goes for the musicians. Set the lighting right and allow them to build on that mood.
One of the simplest things you can do for an outdoor event in the evening is to scatter around festoon and fairy lights. It creates a glowy, warm ambience. And given that the stage is close by, you won’t need to set up anything additional for the band.
Lighting is sometimes forgotten when musicians are primarily there to provide background music. Unless there is some light directed at us, we’d be serenading guests as dark shadows in the corner. Thankfully, all it takes is some key directional light to alleviate this. You can create further interest visually by considering lighting sources at various levels (although this is not necessary). Having lighting direct from the ground, at waist height, and also from above, stimulates the eye to travel around the space.
On staging and lighting overall.
Staging and lighting are just two elements you can play with in creating the wedding, brand launch or special party that you are envisioning. Depending on your event’s venue and time of day, you may not even need to consider complex solutions around either. (A fantastic garden venue, for example, may already have the most flattering natural light and feature areas for a musician to go in.) If you choose to, however, both staging and lighting can be two fantastic tools for you to creatively build ambience with.
Get some more inspiration on visual styling and event design via our Pinterest boards.
We are a collective of musicians based in Perth, Australia, that perform the most well-adored songs of the decades for weddings, corporate events and special celebrations. We believe that live music is so important in establishing the tone of an event and, if done right, sets an atmosphere that allows guests to let their guard down, enjoy, and step into another world where they can feel comfortable enough to experience all that a good event has to offer.
Our musicians are not just experienced performers but also trained formally in jazz and contemporary music, and we understand the importance of how visuals reinforce a event’s tone, which give us the versatility to perform at cocktail events, black-tie events, wedding ceremonies and receptions, conferences, and brand or product launches.