Pyrotechnics are an evolutionary continuation of our humanistic quest for fire. Early man discovered fire. Then they discovered they needed to blow things up. Then they discovered they needed to blow things up while playing music. Somewhere on that timeline is the inception of spandex.
When pyro goes off at concert, the show is elevated. Especially when it’s Judas Priest. It’s a metaphorical hunt for meat. You are on the Masai Mara plane in Kenya, and you are stalking prey. You haven’t eaten in three days and there are virgins everywhere. A wildebeest strays from the herd, and you know it’s your meal. Flaming fireballs shoot off the stage, Rob Halford screams into the mic, and you leap for the kill.
“Out there is a fortune waiting to be had / You think I’ll let it go you’re mad / You’ve got another thing comin.”
Today we’ve got a pyrotechnics specialist with us named Glen. I called his company and spoke with him for a few minutes. Glen hung up on me twice. This is the transcript of that conversation:
Your company does pyrotechnics for big concerts?
Glen: Yes we do.
Are you a pyro maniac?
click. (Glen hung up.)
I call Glen back. He picks up. I apologize. He accepts.
What is your title?
I’m an explosives expert and fire safety specialist.
Which pyrotechnics get the biggest crowd response?
Usually fireballs. People always cheer. They are loud and bright.
What other types of pyro do you all use?
We use flashes, smoke, flames, fireworks, and other propellant driven effects. It’s all proximate pyrotechnics. Proximate refers to the pyrotechnic device’s location relative to an audience.
Black powder is what makes it all go boom, right? Can you talk about black powder for me?
Some black powder is also called Perchlorate. It’s made by replacing Potassium nitrate with Potassium Perchlorate. It burns with an intense violet flame, but like other kinds of black powder, it only deflagrates. It makes a great propellant, and is slightly more powerful than its nitrate relative.
I see your company is contracted by the government?
Yes, they use our devices in training exercises. We’re more than just fireworks and concerts. We get hired for weddings too.
People have pyro at weddings?
Did you have pryo at your wedding, Glen?
Your company’s motto is “Watch the flower, Smell the powder, Feel the power”, correct?
Yes it is.
Are you sure you’re not a pyro maniac, Glen?
(Glen hung up again and I did not call him back.)