Lighting Designer Chris Reade has specified a Jands Vista T2 lighting console for the current Dierks Bentley Throttle Wide Open US Fall tour, supplied by Bandit Lites Inc.
Known as the hardest working guy in country music, Dierks Bentley’s tour schedule has been at full tilt over the last four years. The multi-platinum singer/songwriter returns for an arena headlining tour, spending the next four months focusing his attention on connecting with his fans in larger venues.
Tour lighting is provided by Bandit Lites Inc. and Video by MooTV. The tour is managed by Todd Ortmeier. Production staff include Crew Chief Chris Hallman and Lighting Technician Dave Langford.
LD Chris Reade has worked with a diverse range of leading rock and pop artists, most recently providing design and/or programming for Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith. Although Dierks Bentley is Chris’s first experience working with a country artist, the partnership has been very successful, with him taking on lighting duties for a fourth consecutive tour.
Chris admits to having been a die-hard user of another console and pretty set in his ways before seeing the Jands Vista, so he wasn’t really looking to change consoles when he decided to see a demo while prepping the rig for the recent Dierks Bentley Summer tour.
He commented: “My first impressions of the console were fantastic. I was concerned about the learning curve, as I have done things a specific way for so long. I was impressed with the graphical layout and the visual timing features per instrument and per capability of the instrument. All without using a keypad. I was also impressed with the cloning features and duplication of instruments.”
On most consoles, changing or ‘cloning’ a fixture type involves substantial re-programming – a job that can take hours. In contrast, the Vista’s generic fixture model feature records the actual target look on stage so when the user changes a light, the console compares the abilities of the lights and works out how to achieve the same look on stage – even if the new light doesn’t have identical features.
This particular feature really impressed Chris during the demo, as he knew that he would be walking into many unknowns as far as fixtures were concerned on the upcoming Summer tour of festivals and fairs. He therefore wanted a desk that could keep up with these daily changes, and would enable him to easily incorporate the Bandit Lites rig he was prepping as a supplement to whatever the festivals provided.
Having had a great experience with the desk and been impressed by the Vista’s support backup, Chris decided to continue with the console for the Fall tour. He commented: “I continued with the Vista because I knew it could handle whatever I threw at it programming wise, including video. Also, the support for the Vista is amazing. By far the best I have ever received by any company. A giant thank you should go to Darryl Ross of A.C. Lighting Inc.”
This year’s Fall tour features bigger and better production values, with a new stage set featuring a 45′ wide horseshoe shaped half circle and 24′ wings on each side of the stage, making it 100′ wide. A ‘B’ stage has also been added in the crowd. Video was also added to stretch the overall visual element of the show to match the new set. The lighting design is asymmetrical in nature, with multiple truss moves during the show that give the performance a different vibe with each position.
For the lighting, Chris mixed some old school ideas with new ideas. His design features a lot of color temperature looks using filters and different light sources, and even some diffusion in par cans for a really washed out look – one effect features tight moving lights beams cutting through a big washed out incandescent look.
Chris found programming the Fall tour on the Vista hassle-free, and was able to make changes very quickly to the overall look and feel when the band changed the structure of the songs in the set. An important part of Dierks’ performance is leaving the door open for spontaneous moments every night, where he can really connect with the fans and make them feel part of the show. It was therefore crucial that Chris could respond very quickly to these moments with the lighting.
Chris commented: “The Vista made this easier to obtain. Everything is right in front of you, you can see what is happening with each instrument in every step of your cue list visually, and making changes when you can make such fine adjustments is a breeze. Also, if I made a mistake editing cues, I could just ‘undo’ my mistake and do it correctly. This feature works well. I also like looking at my plot visually on screen instead of having to remember user numbers. I use about 4 different layouts for this show to let me see different parts of the show on screen. Adding video to my cues was also easy using the generic fixture model. The timing between the video elements and the lighting elements are seamless.”
The main rig for the Fall tour consists of 18 MAC 2k Profiles, 8 MAC 2k Wash, 20 MAC 600 Wash, 14 Atomic Strobes, 4 2k Fresnels, 72 Par 64’s, 78 Element Labs Versatube HD’s, 4 Spotlights, Jands Vista T2 console and High End AXON video server. Everything is controlled from the Vista console.
Summarising his experience using the Vista, LD Chris Reade commented: “I know the Vista can do what I need in any situation. I also know that if I need help, it’s there. My peace of mind is fantastic using this console, and the learning curve was not as intimidating as I had previously thought. Once you dive in, you’re hooked. This is how all consoles should be modeled in the future. If you’re using another desk you’re missing out on something important. You NEED to check this desk out.”
The Dierks Bentley Throttle Wide Open tour is scheduled to continue well into 2008.