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Fanta 4 goes for the gold

No doubt about it, Rock am Ring and Rock im Park are venerable festivals. Fans have come to cherish these gigs, with many being particularly fond of the former, held since 1985 at the Nürburgring. This year’s was the final show. However, that show will go on elsewhere. The festival is to move to a disused military site near Mönchengladbach. Befitting the end of an era a melancholy mood hung in the air, but it was quickly dispelled when Linkin Park co-headliner Die Fantastischen Vier (Fanta 4) hit the stage. The German hip-hoppers had adapted their set list for the two gigs at Rock am Ring and Rock im Park to cater to festival fans’ rock leanings. As usual, the foursome worked on ratcheting up the soundand- fury factor at satis&fy Werne’s rehearsal studio, where the band is practically at home.

The lads devoted three weeks to preparations for the festival; our crews geared up for it a bit faster than that. All equipment dedicated to this one act was packed into a single trailer and up and running within ten days. A little more in the way of brainstorming and handcrafting was required up front to design and build the stage masterminded by our partner Gunther Hecker from CUE Design. “We wanted something completely different,” he says. Researching the matter, he found that most bands wage epic LED battles. The desired effect, once jaw-dropping, has given way to mind-numbing tedium. He also noted that the enormous flanking video walls used at festivals often overwhelm and diminish the stage. So he decided to create a set that comes across as big and electrifying, shining in the light of something other than the usual LEDs. There was just one small catch. The festival’s quick-change agenda would leave the crew with just a quarter of an hour at best in setup time.

The solution is a real head-turner: The staff in our workshops covered 104 panels with gold foil and hinged them together so that when suspended from trusses they automatically unfold like a concertina to form a wall. This creates a reflective surface covering more than 200 square meters. A large band logo featured prominently at center stage. Hecker says, “We had pictured a burning logo with a mirror effect that would light up the stage on its own.” Fanta 4, however, felt the bad-boy imagery was a bit over the top. The alternative turned out to be just as stunning. The logo was lit from behind, which made for intriguing reflections. But even the most compelling concept is for naught if it can’t be put into practice. Setup time would make or break this showpiece. The clamps to secure the reflective wall were mounted to the trusses early in the morning. The backdrop would have to unfurl as if guided by invisible hands. Six men eyed the clock and stopped the time. After exactly eight minutes the stage was set for four German lads to show more than 80,000 rock fans what a wonderful noise hip-hoppers can conjure in a gilded space.

Photos: Michael Grein

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