The arena lights go low, the anticipation builds, that first guitar chord explodes and the crowd erupts. There’s something ethereal about a live concert, that certain otherworldly feeling that you’re part of something larger than yourself. Clayton Hutson is an expert at providing that experience. Learn more: https://twitter.com/hutson_clayton
Clayton doesn’t have the fame of a recording artist, but without his expertise as a sound engineer and tour manager, that larger than life concert sensation doesn’t happen. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Theater Design and Production, Clayton attracted the attention of recruiters and he was soon employed as production manager in Billy Graham’s large, multimedia stadium events. In the summer of 2000, Billy Graham’s four day crusade in Nashville drew over 225,000 people, with the help of Clayton Hutson cueing the controls behind the scenes.
Billy Graham turned 81 that year, consequently his religious touring began winding down. By 2002, the rock group Marilyn Manson snapped up Clayton for the band’s next world tour. Heavy metal madness would require many different production and stage design elements than a serene religious audience, but Clayton’s creativity and timing were more than up to the task of keeping pace with Manson’s famous unpredictability and theatrics on stage. The band would be on the road for the better part of three years, selling out nearly 180 concert dates, with Clayton fulfilling multiple functions. By the end of 2005, Clayton Hutson was in demand.
Today, fog machines and spotlights have given way to software driven special effects, with concerts a marvel of digital magic, lighting and video. For Kanye West’s Yeezus Tour, Clayton contended with a 50 foot high mountain that doubled as a volcano. Added Clayton, “Another challenge was above the mountain: a circular LED screen, 60 feet wide. Definitely a high stakes evening for the crew.” The results were epic. The Yeezus Tour was the second highest grossing tour that year, taking in $25 million.
Clayton’s skills still involve moving thousands of pounds of stage apparatus safely and on cue, but his natural penchant for software and its ability to automate movements allow performances to grow ever more spectacular. So, the next time you’re wowed by the pyrotechnics at a live concert, the man behind the curtain just might be Clayton Hutson.