Streaming has to be “part of the equation” for metal music to survive Robb Flynn told Loudwire in February. The Machine Head frontman was talking specifically about music services, but at the time, the Oakland, CA- based quartet was also video streaming shows from their Burn My Eyes European tour. In March, when COVID-19 caused the cancellation of the remaining tour dates, the band was still able to reach its deeply loyal fans by making videoed shows available on a subscription basis via Nugs.net.
Niklas Fuchs of MartinKames.com ran the tour’s intense, but highly nuanced lightshows, which used between six and ten universes, on his ChamSys MQ100 Pro 2014 with an Extra Wing. “The two months we spent on tour were very memorable,” said Fuchs. “Each show was over three hours and our show file consisted of 314 fixtures.”
Even in a musical genre populated by fiercely independent iconoclasts, Machine Head stands out for their willingness to bend (if not break) metal norms and race forward on their own path with the hungry intensity of lone wolf. The band’s uncharacteristic (for a metal act) embrace of streaming is just one example of their go-it-alone nature. This distinctive trait is also very evident in the unique visuals they wrap around their music.
“A special thing about this tour is that three different designers contributed to the look, Thomas ‘Church’ Christmann, Martin Kames the head of our company, and myself. Each of us had his own creativity flowing,” said Fuchs. “Robb Flynn and Machine Head are very interested in a complex and sophisticated show. They want the lights to be 100-percent on time, lighting up the right person at the right time. Our lighting needs to be calm and slow when the song is kind of soft and then be super punchy and hard when the song is more aggressive. Robb spends a lot of time with the touring LD to get every bit of the lightshow perfectly synced to the actions happening on stage, making the lightshows pieces of art.”
The MagicQ’s robust cue stack control on ten different playback faders made it easier for Fuchs to manage the intricately complex Machine Head show. He was also aided by the desk’s intuitive easy-to-navigate layout.
“Speed and responsiveness were of paramount importance on this tour,” said Fuchs “The windows gave me fast and easy access to different FX. I made great use of the Cloning and Morphing as well as the Playback Priorities and Swap Function. Of course, the compact size was invaluable to me as we went from London, to Warsaw, to Paris, to Brussels. It was a nonstop whirlwind, but lots of fun!”
Of course, the “whirlwind” did stop, coming to a screeching halt when the pandemic hit. Sidelined, Fuchs now enjoys the band’ shows through the videos that were created, and looks forward to the day when the tour resumes.
“I think streaming a show is a good way to reach more people, especially those who miss the tour,” said Fuchs. “However, nothing beats being there! The experience of sound, lights, the band members giving absolutely everything on stage, the energy of the crowd — these are just not transferable to a video stream.”