When Bon Jovi’s Because We Can: The Tour switched from playing indoor arenas to outdoor stadiums, designer Doug “Spike” Brant of Performance Environment Design Group took the opportunity to create an entirely different design. Where the arena design was a dynamic kinetic sculpture, the stadium design is a visually stunning large-scale piece of architecture. Brant’s design offers fans an entirely new way to experience the stadium incarnation of the tour, which kicked off recently in Bulgaria and is playing throughout Europe before coming to the US on July 12 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Brant has created a stadium-sized automobile front-end, modeled on a 1959 Buick Electra, creatively using entertainment technology in place of windshields, headlights, and the grille. As with the tour’s arena design, the stadium set was engineered and built by Tait. “The stadium show is all about scale,” comments Pat Seeley, project manager for Tait. “Scale was the objective and the challenge on this show, and Spike has done a great job of creating a completely new environment. It is a 1950s powder blue muscle car with lots of chrome on a monumental scale right down to the New Jersey license plate.”

The main set piece, the Electra’s hood, measures over 98’ in width and goes back 9’. It sits above the band and is made of three, cold-air inflatable pieces with a large chrome Bon Jovi logo as the hood emblem. “The hood is an inflatable piece of scenery made of a few different fabrics, including the interior baffling that controls the shape,” explains Seeley. “The base fabric for the hood is a blue, and then it was scenically treated over the whole thing to give it some depth and character. A lot of work went into finding out where to anchor it consistently move-to-move and working on the efficiency of deploying it. It takes not even 45 minutes from being in position, inflated, and looking good. It is like packing an old-time ship sail, with 30 guys on a deck. To load-out we have big 6’ blowout zippers along the back of the inflatables; open them, and it will drop and deflate in about 20 minutes.” The inflatable surface has been UV treated to stand up to the elements for the stadium shows.

The hood sits on top of the stage roof, and the end of that roof is actually a metal rain gutter structure that Tait created to move any water away from the stage when performing in inclement weather. Seeley describes, “The gutter interfaces with the inflatable roof as the chrome hood trim and is scenically painted to match the car. All of the chrome trim surrounds were scenically carved, hard coated, and covered in chrome vinyl auto-body wrapping to provide the car’s chrome details. The challenge for us was the base materials used on various parts of the set was a range of materials so we had to get a covering that blended and stuck to all those surfaces. We then shaded it to Spike’s direction to create the look he wanted.”