NASHVILLE – Dan + Shay wanted to do something out of the ordinary for their “Just The Right Kind Of Crazy” tour. It was, after all, their first headlining tour, and the rapidly rising country duo — who made their Grand Ole Opry debut only a year earlier — were looking for a design that would stand out over their previous supporting act rigs. For this they chose the Nexus 4×4 LED panel from CHAUVET Professional, provided by 4Wall Lighting Entertainment as the centerpiece of the design.
Dan + Shay once again turned to LD Taylor Price for their design. The LD had created an impressive design for their spring/summer tour earlier this year supporting various artists. “I began working with the band in the spring of 2014, when they were opening for one of my other clients,” said the LD. “We’ve had an excellent rapport since. The guys brainstormed some ideas, and tour manager Chase Bennett presented me with a few sketches of what they were wanting to do on their first headlining tour.”
The original concept from the team had a center stage video wall. After weighing the costs and logistical challenges involved in carrying video and media servers, Price presented them with an alternative idea: he could build them a center wall out of Nexus 4x4s and then use additional panels as design elements on the flanking truss towers. His plan, which the group enthusiastically embraced, called for creating a center wall of nine Nexus 4×4 panels arranged in a 3×3 grid, as well as positioning an additional panel on each of the four truss towers that flanked this wall and putting four more panels on the stage deck in front of the drum and key risers.
The LD explained how he outlined his plan to his client: “By pixel mapping an LED lighting element like the Nexus 4×4, we could still achieve the idea they wanted and showcase their plus-sign logo as well as many other video like effects,” he said. “This would not only control costs, but would give us more versatility from a design standpoint by allowing us to use the Nexus panels as both lighting and video effects. Also by replacing the traditional blinders on the truss towers and LED strip lights from previous designs with the Nexus 4x4s, we could carry the central design element across the entire stage for a more cohesive look and effectively kill two birds with one stone.”
During the duo’s popular tour, Price utilized the Nexus’ pixel mappable features to wrap up the stage in creative looks that pulled everything together and engaged the audience. “We pixel mapped the fixtures in the MA2 lighting console,” he said. “With such a small pixel count, I felt it was unnecessary to bring in a media server for this project. We could achieve video-like effects with the bitmap effects engine in the MA2 as well as the standard effects engine. Programmer Tony Caporale, who helped me with this one, really did a great job getting a lot of great looks out of the Nexus panels.
“The effects running through the Nexus panels spread across the stage allowed us to create a lot of movement, which made them very well suited for this project,” continued Price. “The homogenous color mixing was also critical to creating the look we wanted for this show. I really dislike it when you can see the individual RGBW pixels when you look at an LED fixture. If a design calls for yellow, I want to see yellow, not red and green pixels. The Nexus panels did this well.”
Price also varied the looks created on stage by changing the brightness level of the Nexus panels. By keeping the panels on an inhibitive fader in the console, he provided tour’s lighting director, Chad Smith, with the discretionary power to run the fixtures at full brightness when a blinder or silhouette look was needed, then lower brightness levels to create softer looks. “I like the LD running the show to have the flexibility to react to music on the fly during a performance,” said Price. “You get more emotional impact from your show this way.”
Drawing on the diverse capabilities of the Nexus panels and a collection of LED wash and beam effects in his rig, Price was able to capture the emotional tone of Dan + Shay’s freewheeling country sound in lights. “Versatility is key when selecting gear for a tour like this,” he said. “Everything in your rig needs to serve multiple purposes to justify the expense and valuable trailer space for this tour. The Nexus panels were a great choice for their unique look and ability to serve multiple roles in one budget-friendly product. I look forward to using them on future projects.”