True to form, the skies opened and it pelted with rain throughout the first day of the event, turning the site at Punchestown Racecourse into a slightly sticky, mud-tastic experience - which didn't dampen any of the fantastic vibes!
The highest profile festival in Ireland is promoted by the country's largest concert and live event organisation, MCD. and this year it featured the strongest line-up of many major European festivals.
Dublin-based rental company Just Lite's relationship with MCD's Denis Desmond stretches back over 20 years, and the company headed by Paul and Alan Smith has been involved with lighting the festival for the last 11 years, when it was originally launched as 'Witnness' in 2000. Once again this year, they won the tender as the main lighting contractor on site for the 3 day Oxegen event, providing lighting for the Main Stage, The Heineken Green Spheres arena, the 2FM Hotpress Academy tent (for new talent), the Red Bull outdoor arena and the VIP bar.
Says Smith, "With the truly stellar line up this year, we really wanted to up the production values and ensure that everyone had the best technology at their fingertips".
Main stage headliners included the Black Eyed Peas, the Foo Fighters and Coldplay, and a number of other incendiary performances including an epic homecoming set by local heroes The Script, who energised the crowd in great style lifting everyone way above any first day sogginess.
Liam McCarthy was Just Lite's crew chief on site, with the FOH domain at the main stage co-ordinated by Mark Hanna. They looked at all the various top-billing band's specs and from there designed a production that was rig flexible and diverse enough to accommodate everyone's needs. All the headliners and some other artists also brought in their own floor specials packages.
Robe fixtures were chosen for many reasons - but primarily because of their robust construction and reliability in potentially tough weather situations - historically, it rains for at least one day of this festival, (as was the case this year, although the site had drained really effectively by the end of day two) and no-one takes any chances. "The Robes are absolutely brilliant in bad weather - they are built for festivals," confirms McCarthy, impressed with how they just keep on going no matter how damp it is.
Some of the fixtures were rigged on fully exposed places around the stage, like the PA wings and on the audience-side of the front truss. These were all fitted with Robe's very neat Rain Hats, which offer effective water protection for the main parts of the unit.
On the main stage there were 40 x Robe ColorWash 1200E ATs, 36 x ColorSpot 1200E ATs, 16 x ColorWash 2500E ATs and 6 x ColorSpot 2500E ATs. These were also chosen for their high output - they needed lights that would register well onstage for the daylight sections of the show - which was most of it!
The Robes were dotted all over 4 overhead straight trusses and two side trusses rigged at about 7 metres height (half way between floor and roof trim). They were utilised for all the general lighting and stage washing, with the upstage Spot fixtures adding to the effects as it became darker with dramatic beam-work and gobos, etc.
There was also a large generic lighting rig comprising PARs, strobes, 4 and 8-lite blinders, 8 FOH follow spots and 4 truss spots. Two Road Hog Full Boar consoles were supplied for control, and some visiting LDs also brought in their own desks.
The Just Lite crew of 25 worked in shifts throughout the weekend, so no-one became burned out doing the extensive overnight changeovers required.
Lighting designers for the headline acts were Gary Waldie ("Sport") who looks after the Black Eyed Peas, Dan Healey for the Foo Fighters and Graeme Fest, who is lighting director for Coldplay's show which is designed by Paul Normandale. Jamie Thompson, The Script's LD, produced a stunning look and feel for their performance, which included a special duet between lead singer Danny O'Donoghue and rapper Tinie Tempah. They also used their own touring lighting specials package. Other notable appearances on this stage included Beyonce and the Arctic Monkeys.
Over in the Green Spheres Arena, the core of the lighting rig was 16 of Just Lite's new Robe ROBIN 600 Spots, delivered just in time to go straight on to this event. Lighting was operated and looked after by Nick Malbon. It was all hung on a 6 legged ground support system, and included PARs, egg strobes, Source Four profiles and PARs, complete with a Hog iPC console for control. Headliners in here included Leftfield, Propaganda DJs and Primal Scream.
Showcasing some of the best up-and-coming talent was the 2FM Hotpress Academy (The Script played on this stage 4 years ago), for which Just Lite installed a 4 legged ground support system and lighting, including 12 Robe ColorSpot 575E ATs plus generics and an Avolites Pearl Expert desk.
In the VIP Bar, twelve ROBIN 300 Beams and 12 ROBIN 600 LEDWashes helped ramp up the atmosphere, also part of Just Lite's recent purchases, and already a big hit with all the crew and technicians. "I simply can't believe how bright and dynamic the LED Wash 600 is for such a small unit," declares Paul Smith.
The use of Robe's newest smaller, brighter, lighter - and considerably greener - fixtures also helped towards Oxegen maintaining its claim to be Ireland's greenest festival and 100% carbon neutral.