America’s longest-running comedy club, The Ice House in Pasadena, CA has seen performances from thousands of comics, including many household names.
The venue recently underwent an extensive renovation, preparing the club for many more years of high-quality comedy shows.
As part of this, a complete new lighting system was installed, comprising exclusively LED-powered ADJ fixtures. In addition to stage lighting, wall accent lighting and GOBO projections, the new system also incorporates moving heads and a mirror ball, to allow the venue to also host live music and club nights on occasion.
Located in a building that was originally used to store and sell ice, The Ice House began hosting stand-up comedy all the way back in 1960. It soon developed a reputation as a hotbed of new talent, drawing audiences as well as comics, from across the country.
Many comedy greats tried out their early material at the club, which has hosted a who’s who of stand-up legends over the years, including Robin Williams, David Letterman, Jim Carrey, Jay Leno, Howie Mandel, Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Crystal, Steve Martin, Ellen DeGeneres, and Rosie O’Donnell to name just a few.
In 2019, The Ice House was purchased by Johnny Buss, son of Dr. Jerry Buss and co-owner of LA’s iconic professional sports team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Securing the club’s future, the new management quickly began work on modernising the venue, ready for many more years of hosting top-class comedy entertainment.
The contract to supply and install a complete new entertainment lighting system for the venue was awarded to Moises Hurtado of In Touch AV, who worked with Six Star Pro Sound & Lighting to deliver over 60 ADJ LED-powered fixtures, spread across the venue’s two separate showrooms.
“Originally, we were competing against another supplier, so we quoted ‘apples for apples’ so to speak,” explained Moises.
“However, as we built the relationship with the venue, over time we were able to make suggestions where we felt what had originally been spec’d wasn’t right for the job and introduced other ideas that we felt would work best for the space and what the management wanted to achieve.
“For example, at one point they were thinking of plastering or cladding the exposed brick walls, but when I took in an ADJ UB12 and showed them how it could be used to really make the wall pop, they were instantly sold. Keeping the brick was definitely the right decision, it really gives the room character.”
A total of 30 UB12 linear LED wash fixtures were installed in the club’s main ‘Legendary’ room, allowing the exposed brick walls running down both sides and across the front of the space to be illuminated with vibrant colours.
For regular comedy nights, the venue opts for a signature baby blue colour to match its logo and to create an ‘ice cold’ aesthetic. However, thanks to the versatility of the fixtures’ 6-in-1 HEX colour-mixing LEDs, management has the option of easily changing the whole look of the room for special events, private parties, and special promotions.
To accent the walls, six of ADJ’s Ikon Profile dedicated GOBO projectors have also been installed. Each of these compact fixtures features an efficient 32W cool white LED engine, which has its light focused through high-quality optics to generate a crisp and even pattern projection.
At The Ice House, custom GOBO patterns are used that depict a moon and stars, a pair of laughing masks, and the name of the venue.
Illumination of the performers on stage is taken care of by three ADJ COB Cannon DW wide-angle wash fixtures.
Offering a native beam angle of 80°, which can be condensed to 50 or 40° using the supplied lens kits, this fixture is powered by a potent 150W COB dynamic white light engine, which offers a colour temperature variable between 3000K and 6500K.
With a CRI of 90+ and very even coverage, it is an ideal fixture to ensure that the comics are lit clearly and flatteringly while performing.
Completing the lighting rig in the Legendary Room are four of ADJ’s Focus Spot 2X moving head fixtures, which are used as spotlights as well as to create dynamic effects as performers walk onto the stage.
Selected specifically for its compact size, as the ceiling height in the club is low, the Focus Spot 2X still packs a punch from its highly efficient 100W cool white LED engine.
This is paired with a variety of beam-shaping features – including 8 colours + white, 6 (replaceable) rotating GOBOs, and two 6-facet rotating prisms (circular and linear) – as well as a bonus 3W UV LED, to provide a highly versatile spot fixture.
Positioned at the rear of the Legendary Room is a separate VIP area with its own discrete entrance. This exclusive space features a one-way glass window that allows VIP guests to enjoy performances privately without being seen by other patrons.
As part of the technical refurbishment of the venue, four Imperio Pro IMP205 active speakers from ADJ’s sister company Avante Audio were installed by In Touch AV to enhance the audio quality in the VIP room.
“There were some little 4” speakers in the VIP room before,” explained Moises, “but when a comedian yelled into the mic or used it to make sound effects they simply couldn’t handle it. So, I suggested an upgrade, which management were happy to do, but they didn’t want to compromise on size.
“That made the Avante Audio Imperio Pro IMP205 the obvious choice. They are incredibly compact but also extremely powerful active speakers that are ideal for this application and have worked out perfectly. The sound in there is now perfect.”
The club also features a smaller performance space, known as the ‘California Room’, which is used for more intimate sets by new, up-and-coming comics. Similarly equipped with COB Cannon DWs for stage lighting, UB12s for wall washing, Ikon Profiles for GOBO projections and Focus Spot 2Xs for moving effects, it is also designed to host live music performances, club nights and corporate events.
At the centre of the room is an ADJ M-1616 16-inch mirror ball, hanging from an MB-DMX II mirror ball motor, and a pair of Stealth Beam moving heads from ADJ’s sister company, Eliminator Lighting, allow for additional dynamic effects as well as illumination of the mirror ball.
Beams from both the moving heads and mirror ball are then enhanced by an ADJ Entour Venue professional-grade, high-output, water-based haze generator.
The lighting equipment in both rooms is controlled by ADJ’s popular myDMX 3.0 software. Powerful, yet intuitive, this computer-based DMX control solution for Windows or Mac is designed to make it easy to program complex lighting scenes and effects.
These can then be conveniently arranged into groups and easily recalled during a show making for a simple and effective entertainment lighting control system.
Summing up the impact that the renovations have had on The Ice House, Moises commented: “Back in the ‘60s, the club started out as a very small space, then over the years it extended into the whole building.
“This remodel brings it all together, preserving a historic piece of Pasadena history and equipping it to continue to thrive for many more years to come.”Michael Harris, Director of Marketing for The Ice House, added: “When Johnny decided to renovate, his goal was to convert the entire venue into an upscale club.
“Inclusive of this was upgrading and updating all of the AV and Lighting equipment with current technology. The results have been fantastic. Both customers and comedians alike have truly enjoyed the ambience and experience we’ve created here at the Ice House.”