Cherokee works lights, traveling world with music acts
Cherokee Nation citizen Patrick Warrington, 26, a Tulsa native, has worked as a lighting technician for acts as such Elton John, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins and Judas Priest. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Patrick Warrington can’t name every act he has worked with as a touring lighting technician because of non-disclosure agreements, but the list is long. COURTESY
Patrick Warrington says he’s traveled to more than 40 countries and 45 states as a lighting technician for major musical acts. COURTESY
TULSA – His work is visible but frequently not noticed by the crowds who see it, and it isn’t what sells the tickets, but it is safe to say Patrick Warrington has “hit it big” in his profession.
And if Warrington didn’t do his work, then audiences would definitely notice – the Cherokee Nation citizen is a touring lighting technician.
Warrington, 26, and a Tulsa native, has worked for some star acts, including Elton John, Green Day, the Smashing Pumpkins and Judas Priest. Because of non-disclosure agreements, he can’t name everyone with whom he has toured, but the list includes other big names in music and even a circus.
“I travel around the world. I’m up to 40-something countries now and 45 states, setting up lighting for concerts, circuses and special events,” Warrington said. “These have ranged from large pop shows in stadiums to nationally televised rodeo finals, Formula One races and even a Netflix comedy special.”
Job responsibilities for Warrington include hanging lighting fixtures, running cables and fixing lights, which he described as “fixing robots.” He occasionally gets to run a light show.
Being a light tech wasn’t what Warrington dreamed about as a child, but his interest was piqued during his days at Union High School.
“I kinda just did it,” he said. “The teachers and theater staff at Union definitely were a huge help. They gave me guidance, but also gave me a lot of room to try out ideas, designs and how to build a lighting rig.”
By 18, Warrington was working “whatever random event” he was assigned at a Tulsa lighting company. He then enrolled in college.
“I made it through three years at Oklahoma City University,” Warrington said. “During that time period I was also working as a local stagehand and as a lighting director for a large church in the OKC area. From there I decided to drop out of college and go on the road.”
Warrington didn’t start in the big time, but gained experience touring with less famous acts.
“I would also be lying if I didn’t say there was just some dumb luck involved,” he said. “I would say my three biggest breaks were all something like knocking on the right door, or calling someone randomly and them needing help at that time, or chance encounters.”
With so much touring under his belt, Warrington has amassed an array of memories, but not all his favorites involve globetrotting.
“Some of the coolest moments with my job have been the hometown shows at the BOK Center,” he said. “There is just something about being behind the lighting desk and putting on a show for my home team. Another thought that comes to mind was during the Green Day European tour. The last pre-show song was always ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ Of course, as everyone does, you have to sing along. This happened a few times, but an example would be The Hyde Park Festival in London. The energy you get from a crowd of 50,000 or 80,000 people singing that song while you are on the side of the stage – or possibly fixing something under a set piece – is almost a little intoxicating.”
Throughout his young career, Warrington has enjoyed the backing of his family. Plenty of his shows have featured dancing, and he has noticed the appeal of dance across cultures.
“From when I was just starting in the theater world at Union High School to now doing these mega-shows, my family has always been supportive,” he said. “I have gone to some powwows, especially during college in which I was studying theater, and there is definitely a lot of correlation between the two arts. Dance is a way to bring people together, and there is just an energy around such events similar to what I see doing my job.”