Luke Bryan 2018
Todd Kaplan

ACL 360i™ Pods for Luke Bryan “What Makes You Country” Tour

Justin Kitchenman’s innovative design thrills on country star’s 2018 tour. Lighting and video supply by Elite Multimedia

When an artist tours as regularly as country music’s Luke Bryan, and returns to many of the same markets year after year, a fresh and innovative lighting design is a must. Bryan’s production and lighting designer Justin Kitchenman gives each tour its own distinct look and for 2018’s “What Makes You Country” tour is thrilling audiences with an innovative design that features adaptable lighting pods full of compact Elation ACL 360i™ beam effect lights.

Luke Bryan’s latest tour launched May 31st in Toronto with the country star playing dates in the U.S. and Canada through October, many of them large stadium shows. Nashville-based production provider Elite Multimedia Productions has supplied the lighting, LED video and IMAG video technology for the run.

Lighting pods

While keeping past designs in mind, Kitchenman sought to give the 2018 outing an original look while incorporating a moving LED element that has been a staple of more recent tours. One new production element that plays a key role in the current design is a battery of automated lighting pods that can be maneuvered to create a wide variety of looks. The LD worked closely with Elite Multimedia on the design, which included Elite Multimedia creating a mock-up of the lighting pods in their Nashville shop. Each pod – there are eight in total – is made up of a 10-foot stick of lightweight truss filled with 12 ACL 360i fixtures along with LED strip lights and laser. The pods accentuate the visual impact and change position throughout the show via a high-speed winch system.

Kitchenman was one of the first LDs to use the ACL 360i fixtures when they came on the market, having used a battery of the compact moving heads in a spectacular upstage wall on Bryan’s 2016 and 2017 tours. He says the decision to use them in this current design was easy. “It really was a no brainer to use them in the pods,” he said. “They are punchy and mappable and are ideal to use in multiples in close proximity. They are also reliable and cost effective and I was confident they would work in this design.” The single-beam RGBW moving effects fill the space in concentrated beams of color and the designer also pixel maps through them to complement content on the setup’s three large LED video screens. The ACL 360i’s continuous 360-degree pan and tilt movement adds an extra dynamic element, which the designer says is good to have in his bag of tricks as it’s an upbeat show. An additional 48 units work from the back wall on ladders either side of the center video screen.

DTW upgrade

Cuepix LED Blinders have been a staple on Kitchenman’s Luke Bryan designs for years but this year the designer took the opportunity to upgrade to Elation’s IP65-rated DTW Blinder. “The DTW’s have the amber chip in them which gives a more natural look, closer to a tungsten lamp,” he stated. “And they have the IP65 protection which was a big point. We do a lot of stadium shows where they are exposed to the weather on the downstage truss. We’ve had some ridiculous rains so it was good to know we didn’t have to worry about those.” Twenty-four DTW Blinder 350 IP™ and sixteen DTW Blinder 700 IP™ fixtures – 2x and 4x 175W warm white/amber COB LEDs respectively – line the side video screens and downstage truss and are used to extend the look of the stage and light up the stadium bowl.

Bryan’s “What Makes You Country” tour is one of this summer’s hottest tickets in country music and the high energy show is garnering praise at every stop. Opening up for Luke Bryan is an impressive list of blossoming country artists including Morgan Wallen, who incidentally has been on the road since February with an Elation rig.

Elation equipment:

144 x ACL 360i™
16 x DTW Blinder 700 IP™
24 x DTW Blinder 700 IP