NASHVILLE – Like many fans, lighting designer Justin Kitchenman of FadeUp Design Group and the team at Elite Multimedia were impressed with rising country music artist Cole Swindell when he opened for superstar Luke Bryan last year. They were in a good position to appreciate this emerging talent, since Kitchenman was the LD on the tour and Elite provided its lighting and video package. So when Swindell announced his current “Ain’t Worth The Whisky” tour, they were eager to put together a lighting package, which is precisely what they wound up doing in colorful fashion with some help from 44 ÉPIX Strip 2.0 units from CHAUVET Professional.
“We’ve had a great relationship with Justin and production manager James “Mo” Butts, who works with Luke Bryan and Cole Swindell,” said David Venus of Elite Multimedia. “Justin has used the ÉPIX strips in various rigs over the past few years. He has found them to be a versatile, impactful video element that is easily deployed and extremely reliable. They worked great for him in the Luke Bryan tour, so it was pretty natural for him to include them in the Cole Swindell rig.”
Like Bryan, the Country Music Association’s Entertainer and Male Vocalist of the Year in 2014, Swindell brings a high level of energy to his performances. Seeming to cover every inch of the stage as he jumps and struts from side to side, he captivates audiences with a heartfelt country sound that often veers into progressive territory.
Keeping up with such a passionate performer requires an intense lightshow. Kitchenman delivered this and more with a collection of high output moving fixtures and the ÉPIX strips. Pixel mapped to display video images, the strips added a level of depth to the stage that provided a counter balance to the moving beams. The pixel mapped images were fed to the units via Kling-Net driven by a media server which was triggered by lighting cues on a grandMA2 Light.
“The ÉPIX strips are positioned both vertically and horizontally throughout the entire rig in pre-rig truss as a backdrop to the band,” said Venus. “They do a great job filling in space to make the design look much bigger. We ride the strips and pre-rig truss in set carts, so they don’t have to be torn down and setup every day.”
Most of the ÉPIX strips in the “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” tour are positioned at a slight angle. Each strip is angled in the opposite direction of the one next to it to highlight the band on stage.
Like a good country artist, the ÉPIX strips have earned praise from Nashville’s Venus for their rock solid performance. “Overall we can rely on the ÉPIX strips because they are a reasonable fixture that fills a lot of space in lighting rigs,” he said. “We constantly have them working on tour and one-off shows without a problem. They help pull a lot of designs together.”