LAS VEGAS, NV – Music superstar Toby Keith recently returned to the stage with three sold out shows at Dolby Live at Park MGM this December. The two-hour performance featured a lighting system designed by The Darkroom Creative and provided in part by Bandit Lites. Keith was recently honored with the Country Icon Award at the People’s Choice Awards and released his 100% Songwriter album in November to critical acclaim.
Lighting designer Seth Jackson of The Darkroom Creative shared the news of the performances was unveiled on a call with just 45 days to prepare, as well as instructions that load in would be the day of the show, with no rehearsal and no tech. None of this phased anyone, as all parties were ready to make this show happen… and NOT let Toby down.
“At the end of the day, the inspiration was Toby,” said Jackson. “He is fiercely loyal to all of us, and nobody hesitated for a moment to drop everything and come running.”
“We’re exceptionally proud of the relationship we’ve built with Toby over the years,” said The Darkroom Creative Lighting Designer Nate Alves. “Not only because of the work we’ve made together, but because of the character of the organization. From Toby and his management team to David Milam his tour manager, and on to Bones Connell and the rest of the road staff, along with the entire Bandit team both in the office and on the road, this is a first-rate group of partners to work with on a tour. That doesn’t happen by accident, and we are humbled and grateful to be included in this team.”
“Toby and his wife Tricia are the most loyal people I have ever met,” said long-time Toby Keith Lighting Director Eddie “Bones” Connell. “They both have had all of our band and crew backs; during Covid and his health issues, we may have done a total of 30 shows, and he has paid us throughout all of it… and our health care. I can’t say enough about his huge heart and loyalty.”
To streamline the process, the team utilized the existing basics of the design for the sidelined “Country Comes to Town Tour” since it had only been seen by a handful of cities 19 months before.
“Next up, thanks to the great staff at the MGM Park, we used every piece of equipment they had in inventory,” explained Jackson. “This gave us a substantial amount of ROBE Forte and Esprite fixtures to add into our Bandit system. Carter Hopkins took the reins and was able to integrate all the various pieces into the system and help us create a cohesive system that looked like we had been doing it for years this way.”
Bandit Lites supplied Tyler Truss, GLP JDC-1 Strobes, Elation CuePix WW4 Blinders, Chauvet Rogue R2X Washes, Chauvet Nexux 4×4, Chauvet Maverick MK3 Spots and ROBE Pointes.
With a challenging timeline, all the gear scattered and the pressure to deliver a flawless return to the stage to someone immensely cared about, Jackson revealed, “This was all about the Bandit team.”
“Everyone stepped up to the challenge,” he said. “(Project Manager) Don Lockridge and (VP of Business and Innovation) Jake Tickle pulled all the original plots and plans and started getting it reassembled. Carter started cleaning the show file and adding the new elements. The shop coordinated with Toby’s team to get all the custom set carts reassembled, and (Vice President) Mike Golden was able to coordinate all the various gear elements into place.”
“We only FINALLY saw the actual rig on the day of the first show,” he said. “Meanwhile, Bones is building songs with Carter from a gigantic list of possibilities, and Nathan (Alves) is trying to coordinate enormous amounts of content that then must all be mapped between screens within the MGM’s massive LED wall, oh and 18 projectors that do imagery around the proscenium of the stage. This, of course, mandated that all the content and imagery had to be new and from the ground up (did I mention the 45 days part)?!”
“Working with Bandit as always is awesome,” added Connell. “The crew was great, Golden is always taking care of us; he supports us with everything we need. It was also great to see (Bandit Founder) Michael T. Strickland at our show; he has done a ton of things for the music industry.”
“Being at Toby’s first show back in years was an amazing moment for all of us.” said Strickland. “Toby and I text and talk weekly, a lot about Oklahoma and Tennessee football. In fact, we play the Sooners in 2024, and I will be with Toby!”
The shows were nothing short of spectacular, further cementing Toby Keith’s status as a consummate performer, beloved by all.
“Sammy Hagar, a long time Bandit client and dear friend of Toby showed up to introduce Toby as well as close out the show on guitar,” finished Strickland. “There is nothing better than hearing Toby and Sammy delivering a blistering version of Ted Nugent’s Stranglehold. The show was closed as Trace Atkins came out and sang American Soldier and Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue with Sammy and Toby. There was not a dry eye in the house. Toby knew the prefect way to close out the night. God Bless Toby and here’s to many more nights. I love you, sir.”
About Bandit Lites, Inc.
Bandit Lites is a full-service design, management and producer of live events, theatrical productions, and live shows. Bandit Lites has a full staff of highly trained professionals to deal with all types of production needs. Bandit’s presence will ensure seamless transitions no matter where your next show takes you. More information available at www.BanditLites.com