Discover the innerworkings of Doja Cat: The Scarlet Tour

Automated bridges, hairy risers and microphone stands, plastic-coated LED screens, pyrotechnics, lasers and special effects aplenty make for a touring production like no other…

With previous production design iterations featuring everything from giant sprawling arachnids to roadie-powered dinosaur skeletons, hair monsters and a mud bath, Doja Cat’s long-awaited tour of UK and European arenas promised an unparalleled experience. Following a successful, albeit typically rainy Mancunian festival welcome to the UK by way of Parklife, TPi tracked down the team behind the scenes during the second of two sold-out shows at London’s O2 arena to discover the innerworkings of the 18-truck tour.

“This show is more of a representation of Coachella, with a bit more changing and adding of creative and technical elements along the way,” Production Manager, Aaron Draude began.

The tour’s vendors of choice included: BPM SFX and Image SFX (special effects and lasers), Brooklyn Sound and Glen Canyon Audio (playback), Dark Matter (media servers), Fly By Nite (logistics and rehearsals), Freight Minds (freighting), PRG (lighting, rigging and video), Sound Image – a Clair Global brand (audio), and TAIT (automation and staging).

“These are all companies I’ve worked with before and they provide great service and are aware of how to operate at this level on this continent,” Draude said, further highlighting the pressure points of this project. “Bouncing from festivals to arenas is our biggest challenge on this run in addition to managing the time it takes to get equipment from one place to another. We sent a lot of gear to mainland Europe in advance, which subsequently travelled to the UK to be assembled at FBN Studios.”

Freight Minds Managing Director, Joseph Pacheco; Vice President Operations, Beverly Aguiling and an additional team of ground staff oversaw the delivery of 20 airline pallets of equipment, shipped at different times for cost efficiency. Pacheco picked up the story: “This is the first time that much of the kit had been put on a flight, which meant that several of the pieces had to be reconfigured and arranged to fit in the aircraft. However, after some Tetris and extensive planning by our experienced team, it’s been smooth sailing since,” he reported. “We thank Aaron and the production team for their faith in us to deliver for the tour.”

Tour Manager, Tony Marino; Road and Tour Manager Assistant, Megan Rudd; Road Manager Assistant, Ali Hardaway; Production Coordinator, Cara ‘CJ’ McDaniel; PA, Tricia Engelbert; Venue Security Head, Simon Singh; Venue Security 2nd, Floyd Dahonick; and Tour Accountant, Jen Altermatt supported Draude with the daily operations.

“We wanted to showcase parts of the Coachella set in Europe. One large element that we changed was touring with a small choir instead of a spread of dancers, showcasing how much of a powerful performer Doja Cat is,” Marino commented. “Aaron and I have been working together for seven years, we understand each others workflows and have assembled a great team, which is the key to successful touring.”

BOH Coordinator, Sarin Moddle handled room allocations, offices, dressing rooms, and creating an atmosphere of general comfort for everyone living and working on the road. “It’s important to acknowledge that we don’t just create a home from home for the people on stage, but also for the crew. I like to provide people with the conditions they need to do their best work. I also trust the process of delegation to the local crew and, like any department, having a strong relationship with the locals is very important,” Moddle said.

“We have a crew welfare hub that has everything you would need on a day-to-day basis as well as a touring nurse. I’m a big advocate of providing each room with warm adjustable lighting – the crew rooms are nap rooms for a lot of people, so having comfortable couches is also important. In terms of performers’ spaces, plants are essential in changing the entire tone of a space as well as soft, plush things.”

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Words: Jacob Waite