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Elite Multimedia toasts the “Reason to Drink Tour” with rising superstar Cole Swindell
USA – When the award-winning Platinum-selling and ten-time No. 1 hit singer/songwriter Cole Swindell announced plans for his 2018 headlining tour, it was easily his largest to date. Swindell has continued to grow both as an artist and as a touring phenomenon. Looking to now build a high-energy, yet intimate storytelling experience for his first arena headlining tour, Swindell’s production team once again teamed up with the Nashville-based production provider Elite Multimedia for lighting, LED video, and live IMAG video support.
“We have done headlining tours before, but nothing on this scale with our own opening acts for an extended arena tour run,” began production designer James Butts. “As an artist, Cole will give us broad stroke ideas, but then will leave a lot of the technical aspects up to us to sculpt into the final design. Going into this tour design, we really wanted to showcase Cole’s evolution as an artist, from playing cover songs at a college bar at Georgia Southern University, to headlining in arena’s, so we knew video would be a key element in helping us tell the story.”
Aptly named the “Reason to Drink Tour”, the design would serve as the backbone of the rig and would accommodate support acts Chris Janson and Lauren Alaina. As the headlining artist, Swindell now had the full stage all to himself.
Butts continued: “The design really seemed to come together organically, starting with a complete redesign of our previous rig to expand out to the 48-foot wide stages. We then looked at what production elements had been most successful on our past tours and morphed it into a much larger stage design.”
As an artist who truly wishes to connect with his fans during the show, Swindell likes to use different video elements to help convey the story and make that connection. Having toured with Swindell since his earliest days, Butts knew that with video being an essential part of the show, choosing not to use side IMAG left a challenge.
“Cole really likes video, but in our production, we don’t use side screens,” explained Butts. “To do this successfully, we strategically deploy the IMAG using seven different cameras, and then work with our video content creator Andy Reuter, who is excellent at what he does. We now have a large 48-foot wide and 20-foot tall LED video wall that can create one large look, or we can create up to six different areas of content to really make each song stand on its own and have a unique feel.”
While the expansion of the video design got underway, Butts also needed to expand the lighting elements of the design as well. Playing larger houses, with larger tour rig capabilities, Butts would now have the full breadth of the lighting package at his disposal, and Elite Multimedia was ready to help.
“Looking at the lighting rig, the majority of our horse power is all brand-new fixtures that Elite Multimedia purchased for the tour,” explained Butts. “We now have new Claypaky Scenius Unico and Elation Platinum SEVEN luminaires, along with our core Elation ACL 360i fixtures. We also very fortunate to have lighting programmer Andre Petrus on our team who has toured with Cole for many years. Through this relationship, Andre has a great sense of what Cole likes to see as an artist, and he absolutely killed it once again for this tour.”
As time grew closer to bring all the new design elements together, the production team knew exactly how they wanted the story of Cole to be told. Wanting his fans to know more about him when they left than when they arrived, the production carefully outlined how to best showcase Swindell’s journey as an artist.
“The idea was to show his evolution from a country cover band in college, to country superstar, so we try to work in a subtle way throughout the night,” added Butts. “To do this, we typically come out strong in the first five or six songs, and then about two-thirds of the way through, we bring out the b-stage for a sit down acoustic of the new single, and a few of hit records he wrote for other artists. To make the show happen on a daily basis, we are lucky to have production manager Meesha Kosciolek and lighting director Kyle Lovan on our team as well, who are both vitally important to the design.”
Now out on the road with dates scheduled through August, Swindell is officially stepping out of the shadows as a supporting act and signifying his arrival as one of country music’s hottest touring artists today. In a monumental moment such as this, it is the partnerships created behind the scenes that often define the success of the show night-after-night. “Working with Elite Multimedia is really everything you hope to find in a production partner,” concluded Butts. “If we need it, they get it, even if they don’t already have it. We are very fortunate that they are accustomed to handling large headlining tours, and it’s great to know that we are all working together to make this tour the best it can be.”
5th April 2018
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