Pabst Theater Group Upgrades Venues with HES Gear

Date Posted: 11/30/2021

Riverside Theater

Through their association with Studio Gear LLC, the Pabst Theater Group has embraced High End Systems gear at their Milwaukee locations, most recently installing 20 SolaSpot 3000 fixtures in several venues. Seven of the new luminaires were rigged in Pabst Theater, with the remaining 13 installed in Riverside Theater. Additionally, the production team moved six SolaFrame 1500 units to Turner Hall Ballroom and installed a dozen SolaPix 7 in Pabst Theater.

Studio Gear’s Brendan Watts comments, “The Pabst Group produces a wide variety of shows, everything from political town halls, comedians to rap shows and rock and roll. The High End Systems fixtures have been great workhorses for them over stage, everything from texturing to spot specials.” 

Umphrey’s McGee recently performed in Riverside Theater, giving their lighting designer Ben Factor the opportunity to put the new fixtures through their paces. He says, “I had an excellent time with the SolaSpot fixtures. They are perfectly powered for the size of the room, especially alongside the wash fixtures. More than enough gobo options, tight beam when zoomed in and very bright. The additional spots make the Riverside as straight-forward, balanced and effective of a house rig as any touring LD could ask for!” 

Riverside Theater

Production manager for their venues is Simon Bundy, and Marc Tiskewicz is Head of Lighting for the Pabst Theater Group. Tiskewicz says, “Simon Bundy is our Technical Director but that is an understatement. He is much more than that to the company and to me. He has been there on my worst and best days to support me and drive my growth. It is a true joy to work with him and call him a friend. It’s also great to have LD's Ken Guyette and Mitch Morris on our team.”

The group uses Hog 4 consoles at all four of their venues. Marc explains, “At The Riverside Theater we have very different shows and rigs from one day to the next, and the Full Boar handles it all. I use USB MIDI mapping to expand to various control surface options that suit the needs of the show. At The Pabst Theater we run a Road Hog and Playback wing, at Turner Hall we run a Road Hog, and at The Back Room at Colectivo we run Hog 4 PC on an All-In-One PC with a widget. Specifying the Hog 4 line of consoles throughout the organization offered me great solutions for all of our venues, while maintaining the continuity of the extremely powerful and flexible Hog 4 software.”

The same brand loyalty is evident in the team’s fixture selection, going back years to their first purchase of six SolaFrame 1500s. Marc says the 1500s ‘have lit just about every kind of show that comes through with great reliability and flexibility’. When they decided to upgrade the lighting at all their venues, they moved the 1500's to Turner Hall Ballroom, where they replaced other moving lights that have ‘lived a very long life, done enough’ and are now retired. “The 1500's instantly opened up extensive creative options for LD Ken Guyette. We do a lot of busking at that venue, and Ken just told me how much fun he is having with all the new options open to him.”

The Pabst Theater Group next purchased a dozen SolaPix 7 fixtures for the Riverside. Tiskewicz says that the SolaPix ‘dramatically enhanced our wash capabilities beyond static PARs. Six of the SolaPix 7's are moving to The Pabst Theater to complement their six newly installed SolaSpot 3000's. The 3000's took the hand-off from another set of moving lights ready for pasture. Our newly hired LD at The Pabst Theater, Mitch Morris, told me he is thrilled with the ridiculous options and reliability of the new rig.”

Riverside Theater

Marc continues, “At The Riverside I had several goals in mind when auditioning numerous options; reliability/support, flexibility/options, and brightness. That eventually led us back to High End Systems and 12 new SolaSpot 3000's, placed six each upstage and midstage. The fixture’s number of features is an impressive toolbox, and the new generation of refinements and enhancements of all those features give me great confidence in meeting the needs of the day. All our HES fixtures and consoles have been solidly reliable, and I have enjoyed a great relationship with High End Systems and its representatives for many years. That goes a LONG way, and Studio Gear takes it to a whole other level. Studio Gear's Brendan Watts put in countless hours bouncing around different ideas with me. He proactively tapped his contacts in the industry to get the feedback we needed to steer us to the best choices. And I know Studio Gear is there for me in a pinch because they always have been, and they do it with class.”

“I was determined not to let 40 foot video walls and trailers of powerful lighting outshine our new fixtures when visiting LD's want to integrate our rig into their shows. You don't always need all the punch, but when you do, it's ALL there with the SolaSpot 3000's. Compared to other really great fixtures that we auditioned, the SolaSpot 3000 punched through better than any when I layered saturated colors with gobos, prisms and full frost.”

In closing, Watts adds, “HES is a rock-solid brand. Studio Gear stock tons of their fixtures in our rental inventory, including SolaFrame 750, 1500, 3000, SolaPix 7, SolaPix 19, and TurboRay. This allows us to supplement our customers when they need more fixtures than they own. When it comes to reliability and customer service, HES/ETC can’t be beat.” 

Photography by Adam Miszewski