The Emerald City is known for a lot of cool things, from Starbucks to guitarists like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. Judging from the sellout crowds jamming into Parlor Live every weekend, another entry will soon be added to this list – comedy. Carved out of a space in a high-rise that was formerly occupied by a sports bar, the new club is bringing national headliners like Kevin Hart, Rob Schneider and Loni Love to Seattle. At the same time, it’s also cultivating up-and-coming regional comics by giving them the chance to perform on a spacious stage illuminated by a collection of Ovation and COLORado fixtures from CHAUVET Professional.
In keeping with the creative streak that characterizes Seattle (this is the city that gave us grunge, Windows and Amazon), Parlor Live is no ordinary comedy club. Aside from its 200-seat comedy club, this two-story venue also houses a sports bar, cocktail lounge/restaurant and meeting facility. “From a lighting standpoint, this was really three or four different projects in one,” said designer Stephen Weeks of Morgan Sound and Audiovisual (Lynnwood, WA), who was responsible for creating a design that met the diverse demands of this venue, while giving it a unified, consistent look.
Complicating Weeks’ challenge was the age of the building that houses Parlor Live. “The comedy club is new, actually the second location for Parlor Entertainment, which owns another club in Bellevue WA at Lincoln Square, but this venue is older,” said the designer. “Retrofitting a room in an older high-rise presented some challenges, and among them was the issue of power. We installed a pretty big system here, but it was all LED, so that helped us meet the power challenge. We were able to use the existing electrical service in the space, which was a huge cost savings. The entire design team was very much in favor of using LED stage lighting, including the city of Seattle, which is very environmentally conscious.”
As stage lighting, the four Ovation F-165WW LED Fresnels and eight COLORado 2-Quad Zoom Tour par-style fixtures in the Parlor Live rig offer advantages that go beyond energy efficiency, according to Weeks. “Being LEDs, these fixtures are much cooler than incandescent lighting is on stage, which the comedians appreciate,” he said. “We also get a flat even field from the Ovations and a color temperature that works well for video production.”
Weeks positioned the four Ovation F-165WW fixtures on a ceiling bar 14 feet in front of the stage. An equal number of COLORado 2-Quad Zoom Tour fixtures are on the bar with the Fresnels. The four other Zoom Tours are positioned overhead upstage. Forty-two COLORband Pix pixel mappable linear RGB fixtures are also utilized for audience effect lighting and wall washes.
“The COLORado 2-Quad Zooms work great in conjunction with the Ovation Fresnels,” said Weeks. “They colorize the stage while the Ovation fixtures give us a baseline white. We have an AMX control system that allows a fairly inexperienced operator to set up a show using different preset programs. Plus the Fresnels are easy to focus manually thanks to the overrides for zoom and dimming on the back of the units. The user-friendly features are important in a comedy club where you don’t get experienced lighting directors running boards.”
By contrast, the sports bar section of Parlor Live will have a lighting system run by a professional when it hosts events with dancing. A Hog 4 controller is used to run this area’s lighting rig, which includes 36 Ilumipod LΩGIC Tri-1 RGB fixtures and 27 Ilumipod LΩGIC Tri-4 circular RGB fixtures.
Weeks used the Ilumipod LΩGIC Tri-1 and Ilumipod LΩGIC Tri-4 fixtures from Chauvet’s sister company ILUMINARC to give the main area of the bar a distinctive look that stands out while also harmonizing with the clean look of the comedy club. Stephen worked with architectural designer Sue Genty, who hung a large assortment of Donovan Lighting Ltd. Metal Drums from the ceiling throughout the room. The Ilumipod fixtures were positioned in the discs to create a vibrant color space.
By changing the colors of the fixtures, Parlor Live is able to transform the mood of the entire room. “The color rendering quality of these fixtures is superb,” said Weeks. “Positioned inside the lanterns, they allow us to saturate the room with color, while avoiding hitting people with direct light. The club will use the discs to create color themes for special events – for example to celebrate a sports team or show the company colors at a corporate party. At other times we can have the lanterns chase each other with disco type patterns. It’s a nice touch.”
For their part, the owners of Parlor Live couldn’t be happier with the growing popularity of their club and the performance of its lighting system. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the lighting,” said Weeks. “Our team and the folks from the electrical contractor Schneider Electric did an excellent job taking an older room and turning it into something memorable.”