Artiste Monet joins Kelsea Ballerini tour
Tuesday, 1 August 2023
kelsea-balleriniartist Kelsea Ballerini’s popular Heartfirst tour moved outside in June and July (photo: Catherine Powell)
USA - Country music artist Kelsea Ballerini’s popular Heartfirst tour moved outside in June and July with a lighting design by Nick Chang that featured Elation Professional’s versatile Artiste Monet LED profile moving head, along with Smarty MAX luminaires. The tour, extended to a third leg due to overwhelming demand, travelled all over the country. Lighting and video vendor for the tour was 4Wall Nashville.
Nick initially served as lighting director for the tour’s first leg last fall and continued in the same role for the second leg in February/March, when Ballerini served as direct support on Kenny Chesney’s tour. Nick moved into the role of creative designer and programmer for the tour’s third leg this summer and took the opportunity to redesign the visual aesthetic.
After a short two-week turnaround to get the new rig together, reprogramme, etc., they set off to play a series of sold-out outdoor shows in the U.S. West and West Coast. “Going from indoor to outdoor venues, and from smaller to larger venues, we wanted a workhorse light that was scalable, something we could use large and punchy for the bigger venues without losing the looks we had in the smaller venues,” Nick said. “Also, because we were playing against the sunset outside, I wanted something that could punch through the ambient light with ease. That was another reason why I went with the Artiste Monets.”
For the leg three design, Nick arranged upstage, midstage and downstage trusses, all raked higher on the downstage with each housing eight Artiste Monets along with strobe/blinders. A large upstage 16 x 9 video wall complemented the look. Either side of the video wall were vertical torms with four Monet fixtures each plus strobes.
“The huge output of the Monets was something I needed for the outdoor venues, especially on the West Coast shows where the sun sets later. I’ve always loved the colour mixing system in them and found the selection on the gobo wheels really useful. All of the gobos are super clear and crisp which was big for me. Kelsea loves silhouette looks so using the gobos to backlight her for dramatic moments, or an open white that’s focused, looks great.”
With no other moving lights in the rig, the 45,000-lumen Monets took care of a lot of the action and were used for everything from a barrage of punchy bright beams to pure colour looks to backlighting silhouettes to strobing. With a lot of attention placed on the video, Nick ensured that he was complementing content by blending looks using colour gradients with frost and zoomed out.
Primarily country, Ballerini blends the sounds of pop, rock, and R&B. Her latest album, Subject to Change, revolves around storytelling and the artist’s live show reflects that with several intimate songs, one in which she kneels to draw closer to the audience. In one of the show’s most powerful moments, Nick poignantly illuminates her using a solitary Monet fixture, a look void of any video content or other lighting.
“They really worked for every aspect of the show and I was super impressed with them,” he said of the Artiste Monets, adding that house lighting technicians at nearly every venue they played asked about the fixtures. The designer has used the Artiste series on Christmas shows at Church of the City in Nashville the last few years and says they have been his preferred choice ever since.
Nick turned to another luminaire in the Elation portfolio to populate an upstage ground truss positioned just below the video wall. Having used Elation’s compact Smarty Hybrid moving head on a previous project, he turned to its extreme output version, the Smarty MAX, for this demanding position.
“The concern I always have with a beam this close to a video wall, is it getting washed out by the video content and output of the wall,” he says. “But the Smarty MAX kept up great; they shot through the brightness of the video with great colors, gobos, and beams.” Ten Smarty MAX fixtures lined the ground truss with an extra Smarty MAX strategically placed behind a custom door within the video wall, casting a striking silhouette of the artist as she ascended the stairs to the riser.

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