Chris Reade Adds Extra Dimension To Dierks Bentley Mountain High Tour With CHAUVET Professional

Posted on July 9, 2018

Photo: Todd Kaplan

LAS VEGAS – Popular country music superstar Dierks Bentley, who has 17 No.1 hits to his credit, adds a sparkling humorous touch to the encore of his current blockbuster Mountain High Tour, when he appears over the stage in an “aircraft” to perform his hit single “Drunk On A Plane.”

Lighting and scenic designer Chris Reade of KYVA Design (Las Vegas), who collaborated on the creation of the faux plane with production designer Bruce Rodgers of Tribe, Inc. and production manager Jay Ballinger, is accenting this unique scenic element by lighting it with 12 CHAUVET Professional STRIKE 1 single source 230W LED blinders, supplied by Christie Lites.

“I love the incandescent look and the warmth that I get from the STRIKE fixtures; it’s beautiful,” said Reade, who serves as the tour’s lighting designer. “The original plan was to use them exclusively on the B stage that Dierks walks on to perform for the crowd, because the light is so engaging. Further along in the process, though, we were looking at the ‘fly’ gag part of the show, where Dierks is piloting a plane. That’s when we decided to use 12 of the fixtures on our automated pods to create the combination look of a plane’s wings and landing lights.”

The STRIKE 1 fixtures are arranged in three groups of four units on the suspended truss pod structures that span most of the width of the stage. Bentley stands above the center unit as the plane’s pilot. Floating over the stage deck, the structures are backed by the faint image of an airplane.

Illuminated from the sides and overhead by a variety of beam and wash fixtures, the floating wings convey the image of flight. Appearing as it does at the end of the concert, the plane never fails to evoke oohs and aahs from the crowd, contributing to the upbeat mood at the end of the show.

Like Bentley’s overall performance, though, the STRIKE 1s create a range of emotions on stage. In addition to the 12 fixtures used on the aircraft wings, Reade’s design includes 12 other STRIKE 1 units that are positioned under the B stage to create a warm uplighting glow.

“There are quite a few things that make the STRIKE 1 work well for us on this tour,” said Reade. “It’s compact, so it’s easy to use on the plane prop and B stage. Its structure looks good. It’s an LED fixture. It’s really bright – and let’s never forget its beautiful warm glow. Like I said before, it’s a beautiful fixture, and I’m so happy with it.”

The Mountain High Tour, which began on May 17 in Columbia, MD, stops at a variety of venues, from Madison Square Garden to festivals and amphitheaters. “You know, with the logistical restraints of some of the venues, we have to adjust things,” said Reade. “We have a fairly large design, and it doesn’t always work out. We know this going in, so we develop plans for these scenarios.

“A lot of time is spent in the planning stages by all departments in Dierks’ camp,” continued Reade. “We have a wonderful team with Bruce Rodgers and Jay Ballinger; Molly Gray, leader of the Tantrum content creation team; Houston Creswell, our video director; and our lighting/rigging/automation crew of Marc ‘Chainsaw’ Wuchter, Jacob Alexander, Tim Lighthall, Andrew Williamson, Sebastien Richard and Mark Desloges.”

In the end, this teamwork is helping the flight gag take off without a hitch on this popular tour. Bentley, who has a pilot’s license in real life, is having a lot of fun with this scenic flight of fancy. His fans who are packing every venue on the tour are certainly glad to be on board.

Photo: Todd Kaplan