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April 17, 2016: The company, who until recently, has focused mainly on corporate events having taken a sabbatical from rock and roll for a year, made a dramatic U-turn in March ’16 to support three concerts in the UAE including Nicky Minaj and the Autism Rocks Festival in Dubai that featured Flo Rida and Tyga. Protec also provided the lights for the very first Korean cultural convention that took place in Abu Dhabi’s du Arena on March 25th featuring performances by K-Pop artistes, boy group BTS, Taeyeon from the group Girls’ Generation, Kyuhyun from Super Junior, Double S 301, hip-hop group Monsta X, girl group Spica and pop star Ailee.

The Nicky Minaj concert organised by the newly formed 117Live, headed by Thomas Oveson (who was previously with Done Events) was held on March 25th at Dubai’s latest entertainment venue – named Autism Rocks Arena. Nicky Minaj is a performer who knows her craft and her fans inside out. For an hour, she was 100 percent present, although she admitted to toning down for Dubai. A contrast to her more flashy numbers, she was in a beige unitard with long, golden frills and small suede heels. Before ‘Anaconda’, she apologetically told the crowd she wouldn’t be doing her usual ‘freaky’ routine. “I don’t even know how to tone it down. But I love you”, she said to the adoring fans. In between telling her fans to never quit on their dreams, giving a young woman in the crowd the microphone to absolutely kill her verse in Trey Songz’s Bottoms Up, and reassuring everyone how much she loved them, she blew through all the big hits and collaborations.

Protec provided lighting, video and rigging for the show. Working closely with Nicky’s LD – Kathy Beer and Video Engineer Daunt’e Kenner, the production was as good as it gets. “I have been with her since last year and this is my third time in Dubai and my first time with Protec. Protec is a great company with great gear, lovely crew and everything went swimmingly. I would definitely work with Protec again!” said Kathy. She added, “As with anything we had to make a few changes because all the communication was done via email but the guys were quick to respond and the changes were made without fuss and with great speed. We were also able to end rehearsal early last night which I always love.”

Protec Video’s biggest challenge was getting the trim height for the main screen just right, to avoid the risers from cutting into the bottom of the screen, and the top of the screen getting in the way of the back LX fixtures. A total of 158 sq.m off Protec’s 6mm and 154 sq.m of Protec’s 9mm Mambo LED panels were used for the main stage. The Imag screens for the main stage were set in portrait and the content started initially in 16×9 format using part of the screen, which then changed to full screen portrait to accept the live camera feed. Nicky’s Video Engineer Kenner said, “This is my first tour with Nicky, about my tenth time in Dubai and my second time with Protec and you guys are great. When I arrived everything was set up the way it needed to be and there were no issues. I literally plug it in and it works”.

Protec’s Project Manager – Mark Battle summed it up for us when he said, “The production for this gig worked out very well from a technical and logistical point of view. The site was laid out very well, there was plenty of room in the backstage area for all vehicles from different aspects of the production and personnel to move around with ease without getting in each other’s way. The stage was large enough with big wings and a large enough area behind the backdrop of the stage to move a festival production around with ease. We had five days to build the entire rig which was ample time and made the build very relaxed.

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Meanwhile, the same evening Nicky Minaj was performing in Dubai, in the du Arena on Yas Island, Protec was working on the lighting (around 350 fixtures made up of Clay Paky Mythos, Sharpy profiles and washes, Stormy, A-LEDA K10 B-EYE, Molefrays and Gladiator spots that were run on Grand MA2 full size desks) and rigging, for another concert where thousands of fans, mostly girls, from across the country and around the region gathered at the venue for another first. KCON, the world’s biggest K-pop festival made its way to the Middle East for the first time on Friday, March 25 put together by Flash Entertainment.

The K-Pop artists who performed at the concert included BTS, TaeYeon from Girls Generation, Kyuhyun from Super Junior, Double S 301, Ailee, Monsta X and SPICA. The convention showcased different aspects of the Korean culture and went down a treat in the Middle East. Over the past few years, the spread of South Korean entertainment culture also known as the Korean wave or the ‘Hallyu’ movement has swept across various countries, the Middle East being no exception.

The first band to kick off the much anticipated event were Monsta X, usually a seven-member boy band. However two of the band members did not take the stage although they had made an appearance on the red carpet earlier. The band delivered exactly what the fans had craved for all day. Earlier on the red carpet, the band members had said that they were nervous and excited as “it was their first performance in Abu Dhabi.” However there was no sign of nervousness on stage as they put on a flawless and dynamic performance.

Up next were Spica, a five-member girl band dressed in pencil skirts, black tops with their trademark big earrings. They gave an equally impressive performance and declared before their fans: “we are so happy to be here.” They were followed by Double S301, the boy band trio.

Next was Ailee, referred to as the Korean Beyoncé, who did not disappoint. How she pulled off those remarkable dance moves in those heels will however, remain a mystery. For her last song, she effortlessly performed Ariana Grade’s Problem, with her incredible vocals helping affirm why she is compared to Beyoncé. On the red carpet, she told fans “the thing that I am looking forward to the most is definitely the fans,” which earned her more a crescendo of cheers from the crowd. “I am also looking forward to the performance for tonight. I have prepared a lot for you guys so I hope you guys enjoy the show.” She was certainly prepared and she took every opportune moment to interact with her fans while on stage. Unlike the bands and Ailee whose performances were generally intense and high spirited, solo acts Taeyeon and Kyuhyun performed ballads with shy but gentle appearances. One would have thought this was designed to calm the screaming fans and provide them with a break, although that did not seem to be the case as they wholeheartedly continued to applaud and cheer them on.

But the moment everyone seemed to have been waiting for was the performance by BTS, a seven-member boy band. Their mere presence disrupted the order of the concert as fans started to get up on their seats or push closer to the stage to get a glimpse of their favourite band. Dressed in black trousers, white shirts and white jackets, the group had the audience in the palm of their hands from the moment they were announced. The fans did however, surprise the band with their own knowledge of the tracks performed by BTS. On the red carpet, they said they never thought their music was so popular in the region and were very thankful to be in the UAE amongst their fans.

Back in Dubai a week later, 117Live hosted the Autism Rocks festival on April 1st featuring American hip-hop artiste Flo Rida and rapper Tyga. The duo took to the stage at the end of the family day to mark Autism Awareness Month. Both artistes were at the top of their game and the crowds that came in support of autism awareness were treated to high energy performances.
After the Nicky Minaj show Protec had to change the lighting plot to suit the Autism Rocks Festival plan but Arron Russ, (Protec’s lighting designer & HOD) also designed the lighting for Flo Rida and was able to utilise the same rigging plan that was used for Nicky Minaj. This meant that the changeover between the two shows was fairly seamless.

The only thing that put a dampener (literally) on the proceedings, was the weather. It rained on the Thursday night before the Autism Rocks gig which meant that certain precautions had to be taken in order to keep all the electrical equipment dry. All the lights in the rig and the back video wall were fine as the stage was water proof. The only challenge was to keep the front truss and the lights on the ‘thrust’ dry. Protec’s Project Manager – Mark Battle explained, “We had to use plastic sheeting over all of this which worked, even though it was quite windy at times. When we arrived on the show day and everything was soaking wet, it turned out that we had only lost one light due to water damage. The other challenge was that it was also exposed to the wind and sand/dust. The large Imag video screens that we had on either side of the downstage wings had to be monitored very closely. At the end of the day however, it was another perfectly executed gig, with no more rain to dampen anyone’s spirits.”

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