Bandit Whips Up Tornado Tour with Little Big Town

Bandit Lites is on the road with Grammy-award winning group, Little Big Town. Chris Shrom talks about creating the dynamic lighting design for the groups Tornado Tour.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - Grammy award winning vocal group Little Big Town is on the road with Bandit Lites for The Tornado Tour. Comprised of Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet, the country music group has been unstoppable, with their first platinum single Pontoon racking up accolades, including the CMA Award for Single of the Year and the Grammy award for Best Country Duo/Group performance.

The very word “tornado” is very visually stimulating, and Raj Kapoor worked closely with Little Big Town to design a stunning set that did the word justice. The design features the remains of a theatre, with tattered legs and borders hanging across the mid stage.

While the name of the tour and album inspired the set design, lighting designer Chris Shrom worked with production manager Chris Diener on the production details during Rascal Flatts’ Changed tour that they wanted to bring to Little Big Town’s show.

“Being employed by Little Big Town since 2011, I’ve come to know their music and my design has grown with them,” said Shrom. “Ultimately, the music inspires the lighting. Tone dictates color, and visually draws out various feelings and emotions. When the music hits real hard, the lights should hit real hard. If there's a good beat, the lights need to reflect that. Lighting is very musical.” 

Shrom looked to balance fashion, like writing out lyrics to songs, and function in his design, meaning many of the fixtures in the show have dual purposes, such as the four fixtures that light the backdrop, set, and also provide a cool effect at the top of the show.

“We also have a lot of set pieces in this show,” added Shrom, “and I learned an important lesson years ago in college: an unlit set is an invisible set.”

Shrom spent a little over a week in the Martin Show Designer suite at Bandit with his Jands Vista T2, followed by another four days with the floor package and then another four days of rehearsal. The equipment list includes Bandit 5x5 Blinders, Elation Impressions, Clay Paky Sharpys, Color Blaze 72s, GRN LED pars, Atomic 3000 with color scrollers, Coemar Mini-Cycs, a Le Maitre Mark 2 LSG, 10-cell ministrips, Chandeliers, and CO2 Jets.

Shrom prides himself on his attention to detail, a trait that was put to the test since the lights in the air are locally provided by the venue. With so many of the specials coming from the air, it meant he had to be ready for almost everything.

“I hold myself to a very high standard,” explained Shrom, “and every day, every palette is updated; position, color, strobe, gobo and beams are all tweaked, rehearsed and re-tweaked to give the audience the best possible show that I can create.”

It’s a standard that Shrom believes is due because of a team effort.

“When you see a light come up on someone, on a solo, or a special, it’s not by chance: it is carefully coordinated, talked about, rehearsed, re-rehearsed, and practiced. We'll often have brief meetings right before they go on where we talk about a hit in a song, or a new way to start or end a song. The attention to detail that Little Big Town takes in their show comes out during their performances and inspires me to be on the top of my game, every day.”

“I have had the opportunity to work with Chris Shrom starting with his days as a showcase lighting designer for the Belmont Showcase Series,” said Bandits’ business development officer Brent Barrett. “He is a creative lighting designer as well as a skillful programmer and board operator.  Working with him and Chris Diener (Little Big Town’s production manager) is a true privilege.”       

About Bandit Lites, Inc.

Bandit Lites is a global leader in the entertainment lighting marketplace.  From touring productions to fixed installations, Bandit Lites has a full staff of highly trained professionals to deal with all types of lighting needs. Bandit’s global presence will insure seamless transitions no matter where your next show takes you. 

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