Bandit Lites Illuminates Winter Jam Tour 360

Photo credit: Isaac Apon

The Winter Jam Tour 360, Christian music’s largest annual tour, is out on the road with a lighting package supplied by Bandit Lites. This year’s lineup features Christian music’s top artists and speakers including Newsboys United, Mandisa, Danny Gokey, Rend Collective, Ledger, Newsong, Hollyn with special guest Adam Agee and speakers Greg Stier and Zane Black.

With multiple artists on the roster, Production Manager Jerry Holcomb and Lighting Designer Kurtis Wheat had to design a rig that would allow each performer distinct looks while still accounting for a lineup that ranges from a rock show to a rap artist, followed by a speaker sharing the gospel.

“Lighting can often be a distraction to important moments, so I try to create a look that allows the speaker to be the focus, while still allowing the crew to change over the bands on the main stage,” said Wheat. “No matter the artists or the lighting rig, that will always be the main focus of this tour, so we have to make sure we do our part in not taking away from those moments. This year we decided to go with silver Tyler truss which allowed me to use the GLP X4 fixtures as truss warmers giving the rig a completely different look from the flashy bands and make it a bit more corporate.”

Bandit Lites supplied nearly 400 fixtures, including 120 Ayrton MagicDot-R fixtures, Robe BMFL, Chauvet Rogue RH1 Hybrids, Elation CuePix WW4, Elation CuePix WW2, Elation SixPar 200, GLP X4 RGBW and Martin MAC Auras.

“I try to pick fixtures that are not a “one trick pony” because everyone will program differently and use the lights in a way that someone else might not have thought of,” said Wheat.

“The past few years I have gone with a hybrid fixture instead of your typical spot fixture for that reason. Some of the fixtures like the MagicDots or the SixPar 200s were used to fill in the look so that anywhere you were seated you have a great lighting show happening in front of you.”

As the Winter Jam Tour 360 name implies, this is the first year the stage is completely in the round, leading to challenges of cable and lighting the artists on all sides while avoiding exasperating follow spot calls.

“This year we looked at our initial design and planned where cabling needed to drop and then found a useful way to cover that up. In each corner, there is a tower, and all our cabling drops cleanly behind those towers, meaning now instead of seeing this ugly mass of cabling, you have lighting tying the rig up top into the floor fixtures, and really helping to create the 360-degree feel of the show.“

“Every year, Winter Jam’s production never ceases to impress me, and this production is no
different,” said Bandit Business Development Officer Brent Barrett. “Working with Jerry and
Kurtis on each year’s design is always an experience that is complete with creativity, honesty and humour! As a Christian, having the opportunity for Bandit to be a part of the Winter Jam production team is especially an honour!”

Wheat had incredible praise for Bandit Lites and its crew, comprised of Nikki Dotson, Cody
Cheatham and Jon Houle with additional support coming from Bandit’s Project Manager, Matt King.

“I could write an entire novel on Bandit’s service over the years I’ve been involved with this tour,” Wheat said. “You won’t get better customer service from any other company in my opinion. From Brent Barret who will put up with all the changes to our initial design and helping to work with our budget, to Matt King who will spot things we could do to make each day more efficient and streamline, but also never complain about the many design changes. Also, the crew they send out as techs for us is huge. These guys work tirelessly every day no matter the venue. They always make sure that the gear is prepped correctly and are quick to figure out any issues on a day to day basis. In my opinion, Bandit is always the most prepared when we start preproduction.”