Any fans entering a show during the stadium leg of the Bon Jovi Because We Can: The Tour knows immediately that they are about to see a stadium show, not an arena design altered for the stadium dates.
From the creative minds of Performance Environment Design Group, the two Bon Jovi tour designs are diametrically opposed, each one being perfect for the specific type of venue, yet both ideally suited to the band itself.
Performance environment designer Doug “Spike” Brant has brought a strong sculptural tone to both: the arena design was a kinetic sculpture with a lot of movement; the stadium design is a static, stage-enveloping sculpture. Having two designs for one tour is part of Brant’s design belief “that arena shows shouldn’t be put into stadiums. Of course, you can do that, but it’s usually a compromise. It is a completely different environment requiring a different type of design.”
Taking advantage of the massive scale afforded by the stadium environment, PEDG conceived of turning the entire stage into the front end of a ’59 Buick Electra. The band plays standing in front of the 130’ wide car’s grille, flanked by the four headlights that are each 10’ in diameter.
Tait realized the stage design with a mix of inflatables, hard scenery, and Tait staging along with Stageco provided staging elements. “It’s the front end of a car, so you’ve got the hood, which is a giant inflatable, and then there’s the piece of chrome trim that wraps around the hood, which acts as the rain gutter,” Brant explains. “Tait did a nice job of creating a chrome look. There were many, many prototypes and testing that we did to get that chrome to look like that. The hood is an inflatable piece. That was the thing that we were most nervous about looking right, looking good. In the end, it came out looking good.”
There is only one section of the stage that’s a complete duplicate from the arena shows: the band risers, the upstage double deck built of Tait staging. “It gives the band a comfort level as that stays the same,” Brant explains. “Also, it’s the first time we’ve not had the same curved front stage that Bon Jovi has had since ’95. I like that the set is stadium architecture. There’s a lot of video integrated into it, but it’s not just a bunch of video surfaces.” The clever integration of the video really sells the car, as Brant has found interesting ways to work in the LED video elements using products of different resolutions. This not only gives definition to the various car parts but also offers different ways of bringing imagery and lighting into the design. (For more on the scenic elements, check out Bon Jovi’s Set Turns Stadiums Into Drive-Ins.)
“Upstage, behind the car itself, is a video screen, which becomes the windscreen of the car,” comments Brant. “We put camera feeds and different content up there. Then the grille of the car is filled with [PRG Nocturne] V-9 Lite 1x2 video tiles along with [GLP] impression X4 LED lights. The turn signals are also V-9 Lite and then the headlights are made up of Chromlech Elidy-S LED product.” Brant found the low-resolution Elidy panels “pretty awesome. We’re programming them from both the lighting and the video console. There’s a lot of crossover; it’s all one big system, so there are different elements that either lighting or video can program and take control.” There are also two 27’ wide x 33’high side screens for I-Mag support on either wing using PRG Nocturne V-18 18mm LED video tiles. Since Brant doesn’t have any of the kinetic movement that there was in the arena shows, much of the visual movement comes from the kaleidoscope of video and screen interaction in the stadium shows.