Nico Riot Drives Theatrical Looks For Marilyn Manson With ChamSys

LOS ANGELES The passage of time, not to mention a serious onstage accident that hospitalized him with a broken fibula, has done nothing to dampen the fierce cataclysmic flames that emanate from Marilyn Manson when he performs. After 20 years, 15 tours and 10 studio albums, six of which went platinum or gold, the Ohio-born icon still fearlessly smashes through all comfort zones, shaking up audiences with his menacing music and darkly theatrical stage presence.

This intoxicating combination of sound and sight is very evident in Manson’s current Heaven Upside Down tour of Europe and North America, both in its music, which opens with a cover of The Doors’ eerie Vietnam-era song “The End,” and in its richly evocative lightshow that designer Nico Riot controls with his new ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 Stadium console.

“There is a strong theatrical element to a Marilyn Manson show,” said Riot, the co-owner of Nantes, France-based Chirac Design. “We create a moody, immersive look on stage with saturated colors, lots of strobes and blinders, a large abstract cross of lights, and V-shaped configurations on either side of that cross to draw attention to Manson.”

Riot’s 15-universe show also features a variety of uplighted backdrops. Not surprisingly, given the artist’s iconoclastic nature, Marilyn Manson’s shows are often unscripted. Manson, who comes on stage in a goth-decorated wheel chair (a result of his recent accident), later moves around on crutches, which he occasionally uses to rearrange par fixtures.

Riot, who has preprogrammed material on his Cue Stack, is ready to busk at any moment. “Busking is perfect for a show like Marilyn Manson,” said the LD. “Manson can change the songs right in the middle of his performance. He can also flip the set-list. This means that I have to be flexible and ready override my Cue List with direct changes from the Programmers Palettes. All the shortcuts available with the MQ500 are quite handy for smooth busking changes during a song.”

For Riot, the Heaven Upside Down tour represents a continuation of his involvement with ChamSys. “I first encountered ChamSys in 2014 when I was on tour with Gojira, which was opening for Mastodon in the US,” he said. “Michael Howe, Mastodon’s LD, introduced me to the MQ80. At the time, I was looking for a compact desk that I could take on a plane. I was also impressed that I didn’t need any external nodes or even a single switch with the MQ80. From a programming perspective, ChamSys just seemed to fit with my philosophy.”

Upgrading to the new MagicQ MQ500 Stadium has resulted in numerous advantages for Riot. “The new console provides me with the extra comfort of having two screens and more accessibility buttons,” he said. “Another thing I like is being able to use the execute buttons as flash buttons to link to my different pages. This has been very important.”

His new console also enhances his busking, according to Riot.  Given that he works for fiercely independent clients like Marilyn Manson, that’s a valuable benefit indeed.