As Luke Combs releases another huge record, we flashback to the aXisPro Mobile Stage & Audio team rocking three years of hits on the Pacifico UCF Tailgate MainStage!
UCF Football made its share of headlines during the 2017 campaign, rolling through an undefeated season, culminating with a legit whooping of SEC runner up Auburn in the Peach Bowl, and the now infamous self proclaimed 'National Championship.' The Knight faithful though, saw just as many hits at the pregame tailgate as they did on the field, as (former) Athletic Director Danny White and Scott Carr, introduced an unrivaled #GameDay experience with the UCF Football Tailgate Concert Series, welcoming some of the top names from Nashville and the music world. Knight Nation witnessed players like KZ, Shaq and Tre'Quan ascend to household names inside Spectrum Stadium, just as names like Combs, Wallen and Hardy grew to stadium status outside on IOA Plaza.
Having assisted in Staging, Audio Production, Lighting and Booking for over two decades at UCF, aXisPro Events got the call to help turn IOA Plaza into an outdoor Festival & Tailgate Party. Our production team is proud to say we bleed Black & Gold, with aXisPro founders graduating from UCF in the mid '90s and a few of the younger techs just finishing up at the UCF Rosen Hospitality program. The aXisPro Knight portfolio has included everything from UCF Homecoming shows on and off campus (Sean Paul, Ludacris, TI, 3 Doors Down, Yellowcard) to Spirit Splash (Sublime, Damian & Julian Marley) to UCF Hall of Fame Induction (Brandon Marshall, Coach O'Leary, Kevin Smith) to UCF Coaches Tour to Knightstock (The Roots, OAR, Jason Mraz, Something Corporate) and UCF Knight at Florida Music Festival (Third Eye Blind, Blue Man Group, Lupe Fiasco). So, needless to say, we were amped, as there aren't many logistical challenges on the UCF Campus we haven't tackled. (Check out some of the past events in photo window below)
With limited space, the logistical challenges of Gameday and the overall Sponsorship Activations taken into account, the aXisPro team went to work preparing for Opening Day. As all Stage & Production companies know, the first question you ask at the initial Walk Thru... 'where is the power source?' Rather than the expense of weekly generators, and an additional Drive On permit each game, we worked with their contractors to establish a solid 3 Phase Panel with Cam Locks to tie into our Distro. Once established, they ran circuits throughout the Plaza field, offering access for K92FM and Tailgate Guys to set up among other vendors.
Our good friends at Pacifico signed on as the title sponsor of the Concert Series and VIP section, making for a seamless transition for the ideal stage signage and branding. With the aXisPro SL100 a perfect fit in the tight area, we outfitted the top/sides and back with UCF dedicated Pacifico mesh scrims. This offered a great visual for all the gratuitous SNAPs and INSTAs of the future household names to take the stage.
Going into the 2017 season, UCF Football wasn't the hot ticket it would soon become, and prior Tailgate concert attendance were inconsistent at best, so no one knew what to expect. We had produced Lauren Alaina for the Spring Game, and had a solid crowd, but nothing comparable to a Saturday crowd in the Fall. The Gameday team led by Geena Catalano (now handling events for Orlando City Soccer), knew they had something special though, when Opening Day was poised for a sellout, and the debut act to take the Pacifico MainStage was none other the ascending superstar songwriter and old school country voice of Luke Combs. Fresh off the singles "Hurricane" and "When it Rains it Pours", the unassuming Combs rolled into town on a steamy September morning and knocked out Soundcheck with a quick couple tracks. The aXisPro Stageline SL100 was outfitted with the QSC KLA181 Line Array with five boxes per side and a pair of middle fills, sitting on four 218 subs. The sound soaked into the capacity crowd of about 6500, and shot over the Knight statue into the food truck and kids area.
As the season progressed, the Tailgate series maintained its popularity, acts like Runaway June, Drake White and Seth Ennis showcased the next generation of hit makers out of Nashville, with local openers Bailey Callahan and Justin Grimes warming up the home crowd.
With an undefeated season under their belts, the National Championship banners flying and Spectrum Stadium declared a sellout for all home match ups, the pressure was on for the sophomore run of the UCF Football Tailgate Concert Series! Geena and crew did not disappoint, with a line up including the past, present and future of Country music, kicking off with young guns Dylan Schneider and Keith Eaton the first two home games. Next up was veteran songwriter, Phil Vassar rocking the keys with the hits he wrote for Tim McGraw, Joe Dee Messina, Alan Jackson and others. Mckenzie Milton and UCF Football kept the winning streak alive inside Spectrum, as UCF Athletics kept the winning formula rolling out on the Pacifico MainStage, with Rodney Atkins performing his hits "Take a Back Road" and "Watching You" for a packed program Plaza.
With only a couple games left, and Drew Baldridge lined up to finish out the home series, the campus was buzzing for the Homecoming game headliner in early November. The newest member of the Florida Georgia Line posse, Morgan Wallen, faced the challenge of waking up UCF Nation for a 10:45am Tailgate Concert to prelude the 12pm kickoff on ESPN! The Knights showed up ready to party, and so did Wallen! Rumor has it he took a redeye straight from a concert the night before and took a half dozen tequila shots on the way to the stadium. Needless to say, he had the crowd going "Up Down" all morning before the Homecoming match up.
The aXisPro Team was back for a third straight season with the Stageline SL100 and rotating QSC and EAW Line Arrays for different styles and crowd sizes. With Geena Catalano moving into the MLS world at Orlando City Soccer, UCF Athletics welcomed Adrienne Bridges from Mississippi State to take over the GameDay operations. They also brought in a new genre for Opening Day Kickoff with '90s hitmakers Smashmouth headlining the first game. The band had everyone from little kids, to Freshmen to parents singing along to "All Star" with well over 5000 packing the Plaza.
The rest of the season series kept with the theme of introducing aspiring acts out of Nashville, while featuring some household names in the country business. And much like past years, UCF Athletics would score with an artist seeing their song break the charts just as they roll into Otown.
This time around that artist happened to be Hardy, the songwriter that helped pen Morgan Wallen's "Up Down" as well as Florida Georgia Line's "Simple" and Blake Shelton's "God's Country." His hit single "Rednecker" was being followed closely on the charts by "One Beer" as he shotgunned more than one on the Pacifico MainStage for a slam packed IOA Plaza!
The third installment of the UCF Tailgate Concert Series saw '90s country crooner John Michael Montgomery help a lot of UCF Alums reminisce about those days that JMM sat just behind Garth Brooks on the charts, with tracks like "I Swear" and "I Love the Way You Love Me" among others. The season's young guns kept up with soon to be hit maker Dylan Scott rocking the Homecoming game, and local boy Noah Schnacky returning home fresh off signing with Big Machine Records, to rock the USF season finale.
With the sports and music world hoping for a normal 2021 College Football Season, the crew at aXisPro Events is looking forward to working with Adrienne and the UCF Athletics team on another amazing UCF Football Tailgate Concert Series!