The tour continues until early August (photo: Darkroom Creative)
USA - Last fall, Darkroom Creative enlisted Elation Smarty Hybrid moving heads on Walker Hayes' Glad You’re Here Tour as a multifunctional workhorse on the country star’s first headlining arena tour. Currently out on his follow-up Duck Buck Tour, the design firm has again turned to the compact moving head as the only hard-edged fixture in the rig.
“It met all the needs and continues to carry far more of a workload than you think a fixture of that size could accomplish,” stated Seth Jackson, partner at Darkroom Creative, of the CMY colour-mixing hybrid moving head. Darkroom Creative is again handling lighting design, set design, video production and content for the 2023 outing with lighting supply by Bandit Lites.
Limited in both crew and truck space on last fall’s tour, the set and lighting rig for Glad You’re Here was understandably restricted. Now, however, it was “time to do a show”. Following consultation with management, Seth says it was clear that they didn’t want to limit themselves to a single environment. “This time it had to keep evolving.”
Duck Buck includes much more production, including multiple screen surfaces and an upgraded lighting approach that brings the audience completely into the show. Nate Alves, Seth’s partner at Darkroom Creative, was tasked with creating a different 3D visual environment for each song, including moment-to-moment changes to I-Mag, “to keep things moving and present a much larger stage picture than was actually there.”
Seth and Nate enhanced the rig to add impactful effects to play alongside the video content. Lighting fixtures included LED bars, moving heads and strobes, along with the Smarty Hybrids.
Having used the Smartys in the past, most notably in designs for Barry Manilow, Nate and Seth knew the fixture well. “The Smarty Hybrid packs a lot of features in a small format and earns its pay in a variety of roles, most notably as a remarkably bright light that can punch through where needed. We use them as our only hardedge fixture on the show,” Seth said.
The Smarty fixtures are placed directly overhead of highly reflective moving mirrors that redirect the beams of light, adding depth and dimensionality to the look. A relatively narrow beam shoots down onto the mirror and becomes a massive beam reflected out with almost no loss in brightness.
“It is awesome to see them feeding the moving mirrors,” Seth asserts. “The power and brightness of the Smarty give the mirrors the punch needed to shoot out a powerful and thick beam. I wanted to get a mirror in there for another layer of effect and for the speed but I had no idea how much more I would achieve. The brightness of the Smarty and the quality of mirror surface produce a beam that just cuts through everything. The Smarty optics are so reliable that even the focus of the gobo transfers to the mirror.”
Seth adds: “We have some incredible people on our side: Jake Tickle and Jimmy Hatten at Bandit, AJ Quintel is our Bandit crew chief, Jacob Padgett is our lighting director, and Jordan Karow is our video director. The whole ship is steered by our production manager, Chris Newman.”
Lastly, Seth expresses his gratitude to Walker Hayes and his camp who, he says, are a pleasure to work with. “There is a mutual devotion between artist and crew and the friendship shows in making a great place to work.”
The Duck Buck Tour kicked off in April in Rosemont, Illinois and tours across the U.S. until early August.

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