NASHVILLE – Country Music Association Male Vocalist of the Year Jason Aldean has taken an incredible journey in his decade-old career. It’s an odyssey that has seen him go from having his pickup truck repossessed (an experience he recounts in his song “Crazy Town”), to climbing to the top of the Nashville scene with 14 Number One singles and the record for the most first day downloads of a country song on Spotify. Fueled by his own experience, Aldean’s songs like “Wide Open” and “Old Boots New Dirt” convey a sense of excitement about seizing opportunities, welcoming new experiences and moving on to better things.
Keith Hoagland, lighting designer and director for Aldean’s Burn It Down tour, understands this feeling quite well. Hoagland had his rig all set for the tour when he was introduced to the Rogue RH1 Hybrid from CHAUVET Professional. Setting the Rogue down next to one of the “big name movers” he had intended to use, Hoagland came to an unmistakable realization.
“It was apparent that the Rogue RH1 was better suited for this tour,” he said. “I sat both fixtures side by side and went through each of their features. I was truly amazed and surprised to find another product that matched the one I had already picked for this run. Then the cool surprise came when I discovered what you could do with the layering of the prism effects. This was something new for me to see, and I felt like I could use that within this project. Plus the bonus was that it had a great price point for tour rentals, and we all know budgets are all a part of things these days.”
True to the fearless, hard-driving spirit of his client, Hoagland changed his rig and added 90 Rogue RH1 Hybrids supplied by Bandit Lites. He flew the moving fixtures around his entire aerial system, which was made up of diagonally arranged truss over both sides of the stage as well as center stage. He also positioned Rogue units on both sides of the upstage floor.
“My goal was to be able to paint the entire stage with a hard-edge fixture from all angles on this project,” he explained. “I needed a hard edge that was also going to be flexible enough to do some fun gobo shapes in the air as well as paint the staging area for camera background work. Naturally, I wanted to do this in a cost effective way, but of course I did not under any circumstances want to have look that said, ‘I wish I had a bigger budget to get something better.’”
The Rogue RH1 Hybrid did more than allow Hoagland to paint the stage and audience with brilliant colorful beams; it also provided him with new creative opportunities courtesy of the layered prisms. “I really like the looks you can get by layering both prisms, especially when it is slowed down,” he said. “The prisms are really smooth on the rotation and they add a real extra level of depth to your show. I use this effect for one song; it really layers nicely for camera work and effect.”
A dynamic performer who moves deftly on stage and engages the audience, Aldean projects a larger-than-life image in concert. The big looks and rapid movements of the Rogue RH1 Hybrid create an ideal accompaniment for the superstar’s performance. “The lights worked to accent Jason and the band, while also engaging the audience,” said Hoagland. “I worked with Jason on his Wide Open tour and came back for this one, so I’m glad we created such good looks.”
Like all successful projects, lighting the Burn It Down tour required a team effort. “There are a lot of people I am thankful for,” said Hoagland. “Starting with Mike Golden, our account rep at Bandit Lites, to project manager Donnie Lockridge. I also have to give a shout-out to my touring team – Jonathan “Neppy” Houles, our crew chief and his staff: Patrick, Greg, David, and Sarah. These folks load in and out daily, getting our system up and running for the shows. They are awesome folks. Then again I would not have even looked at this light if it was not for Jake Tickle – Bandit’s Technical Service Director. He proved to me that this was a good swap, and he was right!”