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Ra Ra Riot BETA LOVE Tour

Creative Direction, Lighting Design
About This Project

Lighting Design for Ra Ra Riot’s North American BETA LOVE tour




Indie rock band Ra Ra Riot was planning to release its third studio album, Beta Love, with a live webcast at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, which would kick off a 40 date tour in the US and Canada promoting the Album.


The band’s success with their previous album, The Orchard, which peaked at number six on the US charts, meant critics would bring a high level of scrutiny to the new music and, with a shift in spend from CDs to live performances, fans too would be seeking something special from the concert experience.


Beta Love marked a shift in musical style away from earlier baroque pop and more towards synthpop, and with that change, the band wanted lighting of their live performances to match.


Specifically the band was looking for an original lighting & scenic design concept to tour with, fitting the lyrical themes of the Beta Love album,  which was inspired by inventor-futurist Ray Kurzweil’s and sci-fi author William Gibson.


From a technical perspective, there would be particular requirements:

  • An ability to scale up or down, appropriately fitting of 1500-person venues including San Francisco’s The Filmore, to more intimate spaces around 250-500 capacity.
  • Installation time of around one hour, not delaying tight load-in schedules.
  • Packing into a minimal footprint, not pushing the required size of the band’s trailer
  • Self-contained controller, power supplies, & wiring – not at all reliant on venue infrastructure



Together with my co-creative Andrew Maury, electronics guru James DeVito, and original programing by George Brower, we designed and built from scratch a series of long acrylic tubes and rectangular panels, backlit by high-density and high-intensity LEDs, in both self-standing and hanging varieties, which could easily positioned, were connected via off-the shelf cabling, and could be controlled wirelessly by an iPad. Patterns, colors, and animations were designed in spirit of the album artwork.


Technical details:

All of the technology was built off of open source elements and the circuits were all Arduino platform, with each unit operating its own dedicated Arduino. Each Arduino has its own internal address and receives 14 byte packets of data telling it what to do (rate, pattern, color, brightness). All patterns are baked into the Arduino code- so that in the case of a signal disconnect, the lights will continue to run. In addition to the pattern data, the computer sends a heartbeat ten times per second, insuring they stay in sync for patterns like color fading and strobing.


A processing sketch running on the computer controls everything, and is extended using an iPad for wireless control via touchOSC and oscP5.




The tour sold out nearly all of the dates, and fans were ecstatic about the live experience – sharing their love on social media, calling out the lighting design specifically as one of the coolest they had ever seen in a club-sized venue.


At nearly every stop, venue owners and in-house lighting designers wanted to know where they could buy a set, excited at the versatility and fresh look of the lighting fixtures.


The concept was maintained as the core design for three subsequent tours, with slight variations for newness, and also standing the test of roadworthiness with all original fixtures needing only minor repairs throughout.




Co-designers – Marcus De Paula & Andrew Maury

Fabrication – Marcus De Paula, Andrew Maury, & James DeVito

Electronics lead – James DeVito

Programing lead – George Brower