NASHVILLE – Good feelings and creative energy are flowing freely on the Summer Plays On tour, which continues to fly high long past the autumnal equinox, with sold-out October dates everywhere from PNC in Charlotte, to the Grand Ole Opry, to Royal Albert Hall in London. Co-headliners Lady Antebellum and former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker are not only friends, they also occasionally share the stage on this tour, as when the multi-Grammy-winning country band’s Charles Kelley jumps in with Rucker for a duet version of “Straight To Hell.”
This kind of connectivity and creativity are also very evident in the tour’s shared lighting rig, which was developed by CLLD LLC. Used by the design teams for both Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker to create two very distinct shows, the power-packed rig features CHAUVET Professional Rogue and STRIKE fixtures, supplied by Upstaging.
“This was a unique project for us,” said Chris Lisle, head of CLLD LLC. “We did the rig, but each act had their own team create their shows with it. Lady Antebellum had Fireplay, and Darius Rucker had Will Lowdermilk. Both did excellent work, so it was rewarding to see how different people took the same rig in their own directions and wound up in good places creatively.”
Versatility was top of mind for Lisle when he put together the Summer Plays On rig. It was essential that the rig not only be able to create different looks, but also that it do so quickly. “The task I was given was to create a unique design that could be transformed during quick set changes from one band to the other to give the crowd two different looks,” he said.
Helping Lisle meet this challenge are the Rogue RH1 Hybrid and STRIKE 4 fixtures. He flies the 330W Rogue movers on seven chevron truss structures over center stage. The chevrons are arranged in two rows, an upstage row made up of four units, and a downstage one consisting of three.
Each chevron has six Rogue RH1 Hybrid fixtures hung on it. By directing the beams from these fixtures in different directions, the lighting designers for Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker are able to conjure up an array of striking looks. For example, when the fixtures’ light is aimed at a single center stage point, an impressive light fan effect is created. At other times, the beams are crisscrossed overhead, resulting in a canopy of light. The beams are also swept across the stage from every direction to reflect the mood of high-energy songs.
While the Rogue fixtures are creating myriad effects, the STRIKE 4 units, arranged on downstage truss, are serving as blinders and audience lighting. Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker share a penchant for interacting with the crowd, and the warm white glow of the STRIKE 4 fixtures reinforces this connection.
“The RH1 Hybrids work well for punch and beam, while the STRIKE lights excel as blinders,” said Lisle. “For me, it’s been fun to work with both camps and see them create unique shows. It’s also great to interact with some new people and have them work with people on our team like Erik Parker. It was a really enjoyable experience for us.”
Judging from the reaction of crowds all during the tour, it’s been an experience fans have enjoyed too.