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Elite Multimedia helps bring “Shock and Awe” to Cole Swindell tour

One of country music’s hottest acts embarks on his first headlining arena tour with his largest production package to date to accentuate the experience of the music

As many fans are getting their first look at one of country music’s hottest performers, Cole Swindell is quickly winning over crowds nationwide on his first headlining tour. With his undeniable abilities as both a performer and songwriter, the production team needed to create an impactful tour design that would best accentuate the experience of the music. Wanting an expansive gear list that also included HD LED video, the production turned to Nashville-based Elite Multimedia who provided quality lighting and video solutions, along with a custom set cart design as well, all fitting in a single truck for travel.

“On this tour, it really all starts with the music and the artist behind it,” began production manager James “Mo” Butts. “As a passionate songwriter, Cole is also a high-energy performer so we wanted to incorporate quality HD video into the tour design to heighten the experience for this headlining tour. When looking for a tour provider, I knew Elite Multimedia has an extensive inventory of lighting and video, plus they have a custom set cart operation too, so they could really provide everything we needed.”

With a tour design that would rely heavily on the performance of the HD LED video, the production began reviewing the extensive stock of award-winning PixelFLEX LED video technologies at Elite Multimedia. With content, technical and logistical criteria in place, the team chose a video package that included 32 FLEXLite 6.9mm LED Panels and two PixelFLEX SU-401 master controllers.

“As an artist, Cole tends to like real-world video content so whichever video product was chosen, it had to look good with flesh tones on screen,” added Butts. “I’ve been using PixelFLEX video products for a while now and I really feel they are better than others on the market. Therefore since we will be playing mostly indoor venues, we decided to go with the 6.9mm FLEXLite LED video panels for their high-definition display, ease of set-up and tear down, and their robust nature which is perfect in a touring environment.”

Now turning their attention to the lighting rig which would be controlled by a GrandMA2 light console and hang on Tyler GT Truss, Elite Multimedia also provided the tour with a full lighting package that included Clay Paky Sharpy and A.Leda K10 Wash luminaires, Ayrton Magic Panel R luminaires, Showline SL NITRO 510 strobes, and G13 LED PAR fixtures.

“Cole has really grown as an artist and this is the largest production package we’ve had to date, so we had to make sure everything was working in complete unison,” said lighting designer Justin Kitchenman. “To do this, we chose fixtures that offered pixel-mapping capabilities, plus had an effects engine for an extra layer of creativity. The Ayrton Magic Panels worked great because we could run them through our media server to really coordinate their looks with the video, and our lighting director Ben Shockley is doing an awesome job making it all come to life on the road.”

“I really just try to make sure the show is one cohesive event night-after-night,” added Shockley. “I don’t want the lighting or the video to be overpowering because it has to be the support behind what Cole is doing onstage. While we have to match the intensity and the emotion behind his music, all the production elements have to be working with the one vision to support Cole as an artist.”

Now that the video and lighting elements were all in place, the production needed to find a creative way for the complete touring package to travel safely across the United States. Also keeping in mind that the crew would need to load-in and out as quickly as possible, Elite Multimedia worked with Accurate Staging to create a custom set cart design that made it all possible.

“As our first headlining arena tour, we would not be traveling with a large number of crew members and truck space is at a premium,” continued Butts. “We had to have a convenient and safe solution for the gear to travel, so Elite Multimedia and Accurate Staging worked to develop custom cranking set carts that allow us to quickly deploy the LED video walls. While we typically trim at 13 feet, the carts allow us to really scale up and down dependent upon the venue, and since the LED walls are prebuilt, we can roll them in each night, wire them together, and they are ready to go.”

Shockley added, “Since we are a smaller crew everyone is involved with the daily load-in and load-out, and we don’t have a lot of time for onsite maintenance issues. The sets carts are working great and they make it very easy to load-in and load-out, and we haven’t had any issues with the lighting or video which is usually up and running in only a few minutes.”

With current tour dates that stretch until October 2016, the Cole Swindell tour is now in full swing solidifying his stature as one of country’s most compelling performers, and through their backstage perspective, the production team is enjoying the moment every step of the way. 

“The audience really doesn’t think about how the tour rig travels or how it loads-in and out, they just want to see a good show and really immerse themselves in Cole as an artist,” said Kitchenman. “We’ve been working with the team at Elite Multimedia for a few years now and they do a great job of helping us design custom elements specifically to fit the needs of our tour. In this design, there is depth and layers and it makes for a genuine environment for Cole to entertain and interact with his fans.”

“We have a saying on this tour that we want the ‘shock and awe’,” concluded Butts. “As fans leave the venue, we want to see wide eyes and dropped jaws, and we really want them to have the feeling that this was one of the best shows they have ever seen. As a tour provider, Elite Multimedia always seems to be the most willing to really help make our expectations a reality, and this show looks great.”

Elite Multimedia is a privately-owned, leading supplier of the most up-to-date audio, video and lighting technologies today. With a combined 85 years of industry experience, our team of dedicated professionals knows how to pair the right technology with your vision whether partnering with you in a rental, systems installation, or sales relationship. Through an unconditional desire to make your production or project a complete success, our passion and knowledge to innovate knows no bounds. For more information on how Elite Multimedia is the right partner for you, visit, follow us on Twitter at @EliteMultimedia or find us on Facebook or Instagram.

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