Bobby Glowacki does a bit of everything on country music artist Brett Eldredge's current Songs About You U.S. tour and lights the singer/songwriter using a versatile lighting rig from Elation Professional.
Production design, lighting design, lighting programming, lighting operation, even lighting tech, he's a virtual jack-of-all-lighting-trades working behind the scenes to make sure the show runs smoothly and looks its best.
Eldredge is a bonafide country star with five No. 1 singles on the Billboard country charts and multiple accolades to his credit. Glowacki, who shares production designer duties with Bryan Bobbys, has been working with Eldredge for the past few years. He lights the current show using an Elation lighting package of 32 DARTZ 360™ narrow beam moving heads, 12 Paladin Panel™ flood and effect lights, 8 ZW37™ beam/wash moving heads, and a pair of SixPar 200 IP™. Lighting supply is by Christie Lites North America (account rep Rod Gibson).
Giving the music a place to live
Brett Eldredge released his latest album Songs About You in mid-June before kicking off his new tour July 22. He'll be playing dates through November. The album continues the artist's strong vocals and heartfelt storytelling yet is a slight departure from previous albums with arrangements that dip into other musical genres like rock and soul.
With music that ranges from high tempo to laidback, Glowacki says he wanted to give the music a place to live while allowing the artist to continue to tell his story. The design, a semi-circle setup backed by four 16-foot towers, gives the artist room to play while engaging with his audience. Each tower houses eight DARTZ fixtures along with three Paladin Panels and linear LED bars.
It's a layered backdrop and is very multifaceted. It creates the really big looks for his big songs but can also be very quiet and purposeful for his ballads and acoustic numbers, the designer comments.
As far as the DARTZ, the designer says the narrow beam fixtures were always the front-runner in the design. "The caveat was that it needed to fit into 22 feet of truck space, had to be deployable by me every day, and it needed to look big. The groups of DARTZ with their big punchy beams along with great prism looks and gobo patterns accomplish that".
Glowacki says the backdrop ties in well with the variety of house rigs they see day to day on tour.
It's really fixture de jour and is different every day depending on where we play. It ranges from a purely PAR CAN rig with no movers to shows at the Venetian that have over two hundred movers. The Elation products we're touring with fit right in there seamlessly.
Static to all hands on deck
Glowacki says he layers in fixtures and features as the show moves along, building momentum throughout the show. Early on, for example, the DARTZ remain in a static beam position but by the fifth or sixth song the designer begins to open them up. "For a song called 'Mean to Me,' it's the first time we use the gobo prism and it's really impactful as everything fades from top to bottom coming in. For the more upbeat classics it's 'all hands on deck' but for others it can just be a static look". The designer also uses the DARTZ for what he calls 'architectural framing' such as big fan outs and big sweeps, and even accesses the fixture's linear frost filter for a punchy wash feel. In fact, he uses just about every feature the DARTZ has to offer.
The band keeps evolving and the show is ever morphing, and so do I with the lighting. That allows me to create new looks and incorporate even more features. One example is the DARTZ's continuous 360° pan and tilt rotation. The continuous rotation was not a design choice initially but as some musical elements of the show were modified I found an ideal spot to use it. There is a moment during the last song called 'Beat of the Music' that has a lyric 'fly away' which Brett repeats several times. As the music builds the DARTZ go 360 in step with the music. It's a very impactful effect that you couldn't get from a traditional pan and tilt fly out, Glowacki states.
Stand alone or blend
Seeking a fixture to complement the DARTZ on the backdrop towers, the LD looked for something punchy that could also do pixel effects. "We wanted a fixture that could stand alone on its own and create a mood for a song, but then also blend in when we put it all together".
He found what he was looking for in the Paladin Panel, an outdoor rated floodlight with 50x15W RGBW cells that serves a number of roles for the LD. "I use them for specific eye candy effects, for big punch blinder moments, as strobes, and for washes", he says before alluding to the fixture's 20,000 lumens of power. "When I first got them in space, when I turned them all to full everyone gasped! Because we play more intimate 2000-3500 seat venues I usually have them at about 25%, but when I do need those impactful big bright looks to make a statement, it's nice to know it's there". One such moment is in the song 'Holy Water' where the Paladin Panels produce a big crescendo punch of white light. "It's a remarkable moment where they really stand out, then they go right back to blending in with the rest of the rig".
Sidelight and uplight
Providing all of the side light for the show are Elation ZW37 LED beam/wash moving heads, a fixture Glowacki is familiar with from working on auto shows in years past. The LD has used Elation gear for years but this was his first time using the DARTZ and Paladin Panels. "I was extremely impressed," he stated. "Not only did they fit in perfectly with Brett's new style of music but because of the low power draw we're able to run them all off of one circuit." Glowacki turns to Elation rep firm Five Lakes Marketing whenever he needs to demo a fixture or check out new gear. "Ed Cheeseman keeps us up to date and is always there when we need him," he says of the rep and friend he has known for 12 years. "We've also noticed that feedback we give often finds its way into products which is nice to see."
Lastly, a pair of SixPar 200 IP LED PAR lights sit on the downstage to uplight the artist. "It's a low profile fixture that we have nestled into either side of his monitor so you almost don't know they are there. They're IP rated so we can just leave them out there and not have to worry." Glowacki used Capture™ when creating his design, an easy-to-use lighting design software that allows users to virtually design the lighting, truss, stage and scenery in a 3D environment and can even incorporate video.