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Keith Urban Gives Back with Show for Vanderbilt Healthcare Employees

PLSN Staff • News • May 20, 2020


The First US Drive-In Concert sets the stage for more.

Feeling the need to express his gratitude to the multitudes of workers on the front line,  Nashville resident Keith Urban decided to play his first show since Covid-19 shut down the world as we know it. Doctors and nurses from Vanderbilt University Medical Center were invited Thursday  evening, May 14th,  for a private concert outside at the Stardust Drive-in in Watertown, 30 minutes outside of Nashville Thursday evening. This was no webcast from a studio, it was indeed a live concert, the first of our new era.

The Stardust has been operating at half occupancy and obeying social distancing guidelines  now, 7 nights per week. This includes concession stands. Owners mentioned that they had gotten a variety of calls about renting their space for events, but the one they got from a member of Keith Urban’s staff was something special. Urban himself declared, “It was a load of fun.” while appearing on the Today show the next day. “We also really wanted to take the opportunity to not only do the first one, but do it for the healthcare workers because that’s what this is all about right now. They did an amazing job as an audience and I had a great time.”

The space allotted for no more than 125 cars with a maximum of four people per vehicle. Estimates say just over 200 attended this surprise show. Fans were seen watching from their hoods while leaning against their windshield. Trucks and Vans parked in the back. The drive-in provided the projector and the screen, it was up to Urban’s crew to figure out the rest, and do it stealthily. After all, if word got out that Keith Urban was playing anywhere near Nashville, it could have been a mess. PLSN caught up with Anthony “Geddy” Kordyjaka, project manager for Premier Global Productions, a premier lighting vendor and rehearsal studio in Nashville, to see how the production went down.

“I got a call from a couple of guys early last week to see if they could meet and talk about something with me. So I went  down to the  shop to meet with Randy Gardner and Brent Maxon. I just figured they wanted to talk about using the rehearsal studio time or shoot something there. Instead they just came in and asked me about ten questions. They never mentioned the act, the date or the venue. But I knew it was a charity event and I had to be ready this week. Of course I knew who employed these two men, but I never asked who, when or where about this show.”

Geddy loaded up a box truck with a splattering of light fixtures and everything he needed to make a light show work,  per Maxon’s specs during the meeting. He would go on to drive said truck himself, be the lone lighting tech and make that side of the show happen with a bare bones crew obeying social distancing. Come day of show, a flatbed semi pulled up with some PA from Sound Image strapped to it and parked in front of the  projection surface. A PGP semi for stage gear flanked one side of the stage and the PGP box truck occupied the other They provided the security for Keith’s bus, to corral in a backstage area.

“We had two 12’ tall towers off to the side for front light. We really couldn’t put a front truss up without blocking the Drive In’s projector. On those towers we threw up some  ETC Lustr ellipsoidals for front light as well as SGM P-10’s for audience lighting. Behind the band and to the side we hung about 20 Chauvet Colorado 2 Zoom fixtures for flashing LED colored washes from some 12” truss towers. With the stage being all of 8’ deep, we squeezed in some Portman P3 tungsten units on the floor to give the artist that “warm” feel.”

Urban’s video crew brought in their own disguise GX2c media server for this show to play back video content. They went bare bones and cut the one Sony HXC-100 camera with 75x long lens at FOH  and two Panasonic AW-HE130k robo cams directly from the media server, as it allows for eight inputs on it. All camera switching was done via midi triggers.The video was directed by Simon Roberts.

Randy Gardner usually acts as the Stage Manager for all of Urban’s live events, but for this particular show he took hold of the reins on site. It was deemed safer and wiser to put a younger person in charge of on-site logistics for this event. The usual Production and Tour Manager would see through the day’s set up of events via FaceTime communication as well as Keith himself who wanted to be involved in this event as much as possible. “It seemed the guys were in constant communication with management to make sure everything was covered. Keith was anxious to get out and play as well and was checking in for status updates. The sound check itself seemed to last a couple hours.” says Geddy.

The show ran for over an hour with bandmate Nathan Barlowe joining him on stage to sing and play guitar. With all the car horn honking aiding the applause, the audience clapping in time with their headlights, it appears a good time was had by all and the Drive-In concert era in America is off and running.

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