The music world is turned-on once again with the resurfacing of psychedelic light show innovator Marc Rubinstein and his Pig Light Show, which thrilled and amazed concert goers of the Fillmore East in NY and the Capitol Theatre in NJ in the late '60s and early ‘70s. Behind legendary music artists and bands like the Grateful Dead, Mountain, Jethro Tull, Santana, Grand Funk, Chicago, Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, the Allman Brothers and many, many others, Pig Light Show's visuals were like nothing ever seen before and since – as Mark Hudson, producer for Ozzy Osbourne and Aerosmith, exclaims, “I don't need drugs...all I have to do is watch Pig Light Show and I'm as high as I want to be!”
“The Pig Light Show started in an attempt to give my band stage lighting in a time when most places and bands just didn't bother,” says founder Marc Rubinstein. “Theatre and spectacle were not a part of the concert or club experience at all. I made all these strip lights and dimmer/flasher boards to control them. Soon I got much more work with other bands just doing lighting. A friend, Larry Weider (now Berger), joined me and we started Saint Elmo's Fire. Then we saw our first 'light show' at a concert at The Anderson Theatre in New York (across the street from where the Fillmore East would eventually open). It was Moby Grape, Procol Harum and Buffalo Springfield backed by Joshua Light Show. I was blown away! Larry and I started playing with ideas the next morning, and soon I was experimenting constantly. No one could keep up with me. I bought Larry out as partner, but he stayed with me, mastering and leading our reflectives section. Soon other friends joined and we started playing parties, clubs, concerts...anything and everything we could. After attending a concert at the intimate Garrick Theatre on Bleeker Street for a concert with The Mothers of Invention, I got the nickname Pig because of something Frank Zappa said to us in the audience, and the light show became better known as Pig's Light Show than Saint Elmo's Fire. So I went with it - Pig Light Show it became.”
Marc contacted Joshua White after his light show got the gig at the newly opened Fillmore East, and within a year or so became a sort of protegé. “I was getting a pretty good name for myself, and was getting lots of work. During the Summer of 1969 I was often backstage with Joshua when I wasn't working and got to work with Joshua Light Show a few times on outside gigs. After Woodstock, the Fillmore East started a Tuesday Night Audition series, where every Tuesday night they presented a show with three groups and a light show all auditioning. The groups had to have a record out. There was no real restriction on the light shows. Joshua signed me up for the third one - Veterans Day, November 11th, 1969. After that business picked up even more and the venues got bigger and more important, as did the acts, till in the Spring of 1970, when Joshua told me he was breaking up his light show and starting Joshua TV. He said the guys from his show were buying the equipment to start Joe's Lights and going off to Montreal, and told me I was his personal choice for successor at the Fillmore East - if I wanted it. If I wanted it! Of course I wanted it! That year I also did a bunch of TV work with Joshua for a special (Midsummer Rock), a Summer series (Comedy Tonight) and a children's-show pilot (Super Elastic Plastic Goggles). The rest, as they say, is history.”
“I was there back then and I know what it was like. If you were there too or want to know what it was like, until they invent time travel, Marc's amazing light show is visually as close as you are going to get.” Mark Tullin of the Electric Prunes
When asked what differentiates Pig Light Show from others out there today, Marc explains, “How does Jeff Beck differ from Eric Clapton? That's how I differ from anyone else trying to do what I do. Also, I do most of my effects-creation in my light show studio at home. Then I video the effects and break them into clips which I may or may not do other things to. When I perform, instead of my effects being limited by the actual equipment I can afford to travel with, my only limitation is the size of my hard drive. And I am ALWAYS creating new clips. First and foremost, under it all I’m a musician not a film maker, videographer or whatever. Second, I always act as part of any group I work with while I’m backing them. Third, Pig Light Show was always an ‘East Coast’ light show.
There were two basic schools of light show: East Coast and West Coast. Although many East Coast light shows did 'West Coast' style shows and vise versa, the big difference was West Coast style shows were usually front projection, done by visual artists, mostly liquids and slides centered, could fit into a station wagon or two, were done at the same time as the music not necessarily ‘to’ the music. They were more a part of the 'experience' than the show. They grew in the San Francisco ballroom style of concert. East Coast style shows were usually by theatre, video or film people with different training and discipline. They were more hardware-based and larger (Joshua Light Show was once called the GM of light shows because of their touring size), with a much wider array of effects. They were tightly linked to the music they accompanied, were very much 'theatrical' utilizing dimmers and cues and headsets for moment-by-moment, overall control of the show. They improvised to the music and entertained between songs and acts. They WERE an ‘act’. They grew in the New York theatre-style concert.
Today too many people call stage lighting 'light shows'. That's no more true than saying a sound company is a band. One provides a technical service, the other shares their art and talent with an audience and is the reason the audience is there. Stage lighting companies don’t get billing...light shows do.”
And now much to the elation of bands and concert-goers who missed the opportunity to witness Marc Rubinstein's pioneering and innovative visuals, Pig Light Show is back! Bands looking for more than your standard run-of-the-mill lighting can now hire the most innovative light show on the planet – anywhere and at any-sized venue! “One of the greatest things about the way I do the show is that it can be scaled to any size from a small club to the hugest stage,” says Marc. “All that's needed is a video projector of appropriate power and screen of an appropriate size for the venue (more and more often they are now owned by the venue) or video screens or LED curtain-screens drivable by a laptop. That and travel are the big budget items. Once that is taken care of, my fee is based upon Venue size, budget, expected audience size, publicity, etc., but I can usually work something equitable out.”
“If you want the real deal, the real light show that moves and swirls like days gone by, like days many people wish they were there for, but were not, then you need to go to Marc Rubinstein and his fabulous Pig Light Show.” - Michael Shrieve original drummer for Santana
Are the 2000's the new 1960s? With the resurfacing of Marc Rubinstein and Pig Light Show comes the reunion of psychedelic music and visuals once again! “Last Summer I got to work with The Electric Prunes, Love and The Blues Magoos,” recalls Marc. “I had never worked with them before, so it was something I looked forward to with great pleasure. We were doing a benefit concert for WPKN from Bridgeport at a theatre in Fairfield, CT. The show was being dedicated to Sky Saxon (The Seeds) who was supposed to be on the tour but died earlier that Summer along with Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. We were lucky that it was a real theatre, with good stage lighting, a rear projection screen and powerful video projector. We were able to put on as close to a 'Fillmore East' style show as possible, and the audience was ideal. The show was a ball! The bands loved it, the radio station loved it. The audience loved it. Even the news loved it.”
“Marc put on a great show on the fly for an iconic band I'm in, The Electric Prunes,” says Jay Dean. “I enjoyed the show myself from the stage! The light show was indeed awesome!”
“Marc Rubinstein and the Pig Light Show stand the test of time. All others have faded away. The cream rises to the top!” Peppy Castro – The Blues Magoos
"Yesterday / Today / Tomorrow. The first 3 words that spring to mind at the mention of Pig Light Show and Marc Rubinstein. I've enjoyed the pleasures of having my music enhanced by Marc 'back in the day' of Bill Graham's legendary Fillmore East - live and in real-time! ...and having been recently reunited, and my mind blown yet again by Marc's present creative visual-to-musical works, it seemed only natural to ask him to collaborate on my upcoming "Couch Vid Sessions" ...and some other yet-to-be announced multimedia projects. It's such a great feeling to share the sensibilities of the 'classic' with the razor-edge technologies Marc and I enjoy today. And big respect to one of the true pioneers." Elliott Randall – Steely Dan
For more information visit the official website at www.piglightshow.com