“It's the people that make a rig like this happen. I couldn't do this without my crew,” boasts lighting designer Jim Chapman of the team he's assembled for his third consecutive Aerosmith tour. For every show his crew must tackle a massive sub-grid and an enormous moving “spider-like” truss rig. Every piece of truss moves independently by motors over the band's head and none of it can be pre-hung with light bars. In about four and a half hours, the eight-member lighting crew, under the coordination of crew chief Mike Gott, works its way through meat racks with over 250 PAR cans and 200 road cases loaded into four trucks. “It's old-time rock and roll again. I haven't done a big heavy-metal PAR can lighting rig for years,” says Gott. “It takes a lot of manpower and time; however, I've got a really good crew. Everybody has a good attitude and gets along well.”

“This crew is put together so incredibly well, everyone knows their gig,” agrees Andrea Mack, the Syncrolite tech. She's very impressed with the seven SX3K units: “They're very reliable, and what a beam. My stuff is on the sub-grid so I'm first up; I spend a lot of the call picking up loose ends.” Meanwhile, Kevin Parsley, the second electrician, heads off to “the wide world of color changers.” The tour package has over 160 Wybron scrollers. The units have an average age of seven years, but Parsley has had few problems. “The Wybrons have been bulletproof; all I've had to deal with is a chip massage here and there, and after a very rainy Jones Beach show I had to dry out a lot of gel,” laughs Parsley.

Head electrician Doug Eder feels his job is easier thanks to the gear itself on this tour. “Between the Avolites Diamond III, the ETC dimmers, Wybron, Syncro, High End, Vari-Lite, all the gear is turning the techs on this crew into the Maytag repairmen.” Benny Kirkham, at his position behind the Vari*Lite® Virtuoso console, sheds some light on this good fortune: “Jim has the right light doing the right job.” Kirkham, who has worked with Chapman since 1998, started this tour “with a phone call from Jim while I was out on Pat Metheny's show: ‘Hey, do you have a piece of paper? I'm thinking about a 20' truss circle that moves….’”

Mel Dorough, the VL tech, is more than a co-worker to Kirkham — he is family. Dorough has known Kirkham for nine years but laughs, “We knew each other for three years before we put together that we were distant cousins through relatives in Roxton, TX.” Dorough notes the “reliability of the Vari*Lite 2000 series; they've been great.” On the road with Chapman for a second year is Travis Ashworth, who is in charge of spots and strobes. “We're traveling with Robert Juliat Heloise spots and Diversitronics 3kW strobes. Everything is durable and bright. It's all working well.” Ashworth is particularly taken with the way Chapman handles the crew. “He takes really good care of us, makes sure we have everything we need.”

David Convertino, the B stage “guru,” has been touring for 15 years but this is his first time out with Chapman. “Fantastic rig. Nothing looks better than a moving motor rig. Fun rig to work, and it is a really good crew.” The majority of the gear on the B stage is from High End Systems and Convertino points out that, with only five indoor venues on the schedule, “High End's gear holds up in rain. I don't need to think of covering it up.” Cyberlight tech Robert Gallegos concurs: “The High End gear has been solid on the tour.” As for what he thinks of the rig overall, Gallegos quotes, “Like Jim says, ‘They make it rock, we make it roll.’”

Actually, the man making it roll is Mike Tengdin, the tour's motor control man. Tengdin credits the Skjonberg motor control system he programs and operates. “The system is working out really well for the tour.” He is thrilled to be working on “such a monster show, really old-school rock and roll. We are all having a good time. It's a lot of fun running the big rig over the guys' heads.”

Production manager Charlie Hernandez concludes, “You have to be passionate to do a show like this. It comes from the band down. You want to make it right because they go out there and really give their hearts onstage. It really is a marriage of people, a matter of personalities that Jim Chapman has helped put together. It all comes down to team — it is a real team effort.”