As we kick off 2017 and get ready for all the festivals and live shows ahead, we wanted to take a second to highlight some of the most notable stage designs that debuted last year.
From holograms and floating stages to puppets being brought out for a hip-hop concert, 2016 managed to raise the bar on what a live show should be for electronic and hip-hop music. We've decided to recap 12 of best. It was interesting to see that a good chunk of them were premiered at either Coachella or Red Rocks!
Eric Prydz – EPIC 4.0
For Eric Prydz, the visuals of the project have always been as important as the music itself. They not only go hand-in-hand, but provide concert-goers an unparalleled live experience. If you're looking for lasers, Prydz has got you covered and then some. His setup consists of an impressive mixture of transparent LED screens, bright lasers and hologram technology that is absolutely eye-opening. If you've never been to an Eric Prydz show, we highly suggest you go because although EPIC 4.0 stands for 'Eric Prydz In Concert', the experience is truly epic.
Kanye West – Saint Pablo Tour
Although Kanye West’s Saint Pablo tour was cut short, he had one of the most impressive stage setups of the year. He performed from a hovering platform that floated above the audience. His shows created crazy mosh-pits that followed Kanye wherever his moving stage went. The spectacle of his stage is one of the most memorable moments in live music this year.
Flume - Infinity Cube
* Debuted at Coachella *
Everyone loves a good cube. Flume's 'Infinity Cube' setup is exactly what it sounds like. There are literally LED cubes all around him that light up on specific beats, creating a mesmerizing performance to watch. The countless flickering lights will almost hypnotize you and immerse you into Flume's sonic world. There's production built all around him, as almost if each piece is floating in the air — both over him and in front of him.
Chance The Rapper – Magnificent Coloring World Tour
Chance The Rapper's Coloring Book tour brought forth a colorful stage design, fitting the uplifting vibe of his new music. In addition to plenty of LED screens, Chance had a full choir of mechanical muppet-like puppets join him on stage during a few songs. He took things a step further by having a puppet named Carlos (voiced by comedian HAHA Big Fella Davis) act as the host for the evening, popping up from time to time to help narrate the show. Although Chance had to cancel a number of European dates, he was able to bring his impressive stage setup to many cities.
Drake & Future – Summer Sixteen Tour
Drake went all out on his Summer Sixteen Tour. He had an enormous lighting rig with glowing orbs that hung from the ceiling. The orbs were raised or lowered based on the music playing and the choreography of it all was awesome to watch. He even hopped in a floating cage that had him get close and personal with the crowd as he floated right above them while singing, "Hold On We’re Going Home". To cap it all off, he had a crazy amount of pyrotechnics which you could feel across the arena during Drake and Future’s joint set in the middle of the show. Drake's massive Summer Sixteen tour was one to remember.
Excision – The Paradox
Excision has been bringing his aggressive style of bass music to life through his live shows for years, bringing more speakers and production then most venues have ever seen before. In 2016, he gave his own touring setup quite the upgrade with "The Paradox" (which technically debuted in Dec. 2015, but was rolled out as part of a full tour in 2016). It was his third version of his stage setup and most jaw-dropping structure to date. It had one of the biggest LED screen backdrops we’ve seen in a long time. The setup is paired with Excision sitting atop a moving LED booth that's mapped with a back wall for some insane effects. Add in an absurd amount of lights and strobes and you have one of the biggest sensory overloads of the year.
The Chainsmokers – Red Rocks (Mount Turnip)
* Debuted at Coachella
This is by far the biggest stage production The Chainsmokers have ever utilized. The setup is literally the size of a mountain, hence the name 'Mount Turnip'. They debuted it at Coachella and then premiered a bigger version at Red Rocks. The custom visuals are carefully timed on each LED panel, providing a fluid experience for the fans. The gigantic size of it all is simply awe-inspiring. The Chainsmokers have dominated 2016 and 100% look like the kings they are on this volcano-like rig.
Deadmau5 - Cube 2.0
While Eric Prydz performs in a cube, deadmau5 prefers performing on a cube. Honestly, both ideas work to a tee. The cube is armed with LED panels that rotate, converge and move to the beat of his set. Back in May 2016, he tweeted that his budget for this new production was $2 million…yes, million. The cube is massive and seems to only be getting bigger with the latest peak of Cube 2.1. The colorful, swirling HD visuals put fans in a trance, immediately enhancing the mood of every song.
Jack U – Macintosh
* Debuted at Coachella *
There are few dance music shows more hype than a Jack U show. If Skrillex and Diplo commanding the stage aren't enough, their top-notch stage setup will have you 100% sold. Technically their center rig is a cube, but they get a little more creative by transforming it into a classic Macintosh computer. Jack U had this custom rig for Coachella as well as a handful of dates in San Francisco. The computer displays crazy visuals throughout and even some classic computer games from the 90s.
Pretty Lights – An Episodic Festival
Pretty Lights has been a pioneer in bringing new production elements to live electronic shows since his start. He's raised the bar year after year, experimenting to make the show bigger and better. This year, he did things differently by launching his first touring festival called An Episodic Festival.
This non-traditional route quickly paid off for Pretty Lights. One of the most notable aspects about each show were the walls of lasers which were created by having a row of lasers lined up next to each other, producing the wall effect. The final product was nothing short of impressive. It blended with the rest of his production for a very unique experience.
ZHU - Neon City
* Debuted at Coachella *
ZHU's simple and sleek stage design for his headlining Neon City tour paired perfectly with his music. The DJ booth is lit up in front with a LED panel of ZHU's logo. Unlike previous live performances, ZHU did these shows without a scrim in front of his setup, allowing for there to be a more intimate connection between him and the crowd.
Flosstradamus HDYFEST / Hi-Def Youth Tour
* Debuted at Red Rocks *
Flosstradamus goes all out for their HDYFEST dates. This year they debuted an insane setup that looked like an army base at the iconic Red Rocks show. Decked with Floss’ warning signs branding, the two-story structure comes with a booth on top and a t-shirt cannon on the lower half. The stage design was complete with a satellite dish and visuals to capture the sort of doomsday martian vibe. They brought a slightly smaller version of setup with them on their Hi-Def Youth Tour spanning 20 dates before the duo announced their split.