TLC & Shaggy: Hot Summer Nights Tour 2023 blazed through 26 cities throughout the US and Canada in June and July 2023, served up a feast of hits spanning three decades and showcased performances by special guests En Vogue and Sean Kingston.
Tour sound, provided by Major Tom, centered around a Meyer Sound PANTHER large-format linear line array loudspeaker system spec’d by Parker Vandenberg and the Major Tom team. Vandenberg, TLC’s production manager, took on an expanded role of production manager for the entire Hot Summer Nights tour, while also mixing monitors for TLC.
The PANTHER PA proved to be the ideal choice due to its versatility, compact size, and ease of use. The highly scalable system comprised 18 PANTHER loudspeakers per side, with 8 LEOPARD loudspeakers per side as outfills, plus 9 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements per side as ground subs. Ten ULTRA‑X40 compact loudspeakers in front-fills and 14 MJF-210 stage monitors rounded out the system, which was optimized with MAPP 3D software and managed by Galileo GALAXY 816 processors. The system was supplemented with 12 extra PANTHER loudspeakers per side at the tour’s largest stop, the FivePoint Amphitheater in Irvine, CA.
“Venue sizes on the tour ranged from 4,000 to 25,000-seat venues,” Vandenberg explained. “The smallest deployment we did at any point was eight PANTHER, while the biggest system, for LA, consisted of 16 PANTHER loudspeakers in the main hang and 12 in the side hangs, with nine 1100-LFC low-frequency control elements per side.”
Beyond delivering extraordinary sound quality, PANTHER offers a streamlined form factor that simplifies logistics, he said. “When we look at the amount of boxes and gear we were carrying, the form factor and compactness allowed the audio system to fit into one truck with ease — allowing additional room for other equipment. Traditionally, with similar systems, the truck space and weight would’ve been significantly more.”
PANTHER’s power and compact size gave the teams the ability to fly fewer boxes while still ensuring consistent coverage throughout audience areas. PANTHER made it easier to ensure sightlines in every venue, a critical factor in producing seamless performances. “The production management side that I have to focus on always involves conversations regarding sightlines, especially in amphitheaters,” said Vandenberg. “PANTHER’s form factor allowed us to balance the show’s visual elements without compromising sonically.”
FOH engineers share praise for PANTHER as well. Dean Pond, the front-of-house engineer for TLC and Shaggy, was initially apprehensive, but was immediately won over, Vandenberg said. “We told him, ‘You’re going to love it. It’s going to be amazing.’ He said, ‘All right, let’s see,’ and by the time we got a few shows in, everyone got into a groove, he got a good feel for the system, and he was very happy with it. Now, as we’re talking about some upcoming shows that we’re going to be doing where we’re going to have PANTHER, he is very excited to have the opportunity to be back in front of it. We were all very impressed with what PANTHER was able to do.”
Tour systems engineer Bobby Brickman was also happy with the setup. “I love PANTHER. It’s super scalable and really consistent. The voicing of it makes my job super easy,” he says. “I’ve always appreciated the Meyer Sound approach: phase coherence and linearity.”
In the end, said Vandenberg, PANTHER delivered on all counts. “There are definitely additional challenges that could have come into play had we not had the ability to carry PANTHER. It’s a much more truck-friendly, crew-friendly, ear-friendly box.”
The Hot Summer Nights tour kicked off on June 1 at Oak Mountain Amphitheatre in Pelham, AL, making stops across the U.S. and Canada before wrapping up in Penticton, British Columbia, on July 15.