Todd Rundgren’s “Clearly Human” Tour Goes Clear-Com in First-of-its-Kind Hybrid Show Experience

Clear-Com Encore System is a solution for comms needs and COVID requirements onset

The Todd Rundgren ten week tour, “Clearly Human,” was scheduled and rescheduled three times since March 2020 before landing on what was the first-of-its-kind adaptation of a “road” tour, localized in Chicago but virtualized across 25 different “stops” in major US cities. Each stop was curated to the look and feel of each city and included all the elements of a “normal” tour—an enormous video wall, lighting system, pyrotechnics and special effects—all of which required the same coordination as any major live music event. To ensure smooth communication between production team members as well as to maintain appropriate social distancing requirements, the tour employed Clear-Com®’s Encore® Analog Partyline Intercom System.

After vetting several venues in the Chicago area, the band and crew were able to set up shop in Radius, a new live performance venue that had opened with two shows before closing again due to COVID. Ticket sales were available to fans with zip codes in that event’s greater metropolitan area, and the night of the show, they could see themselves on monitors throughout the venue, local landmarks took over the video wall, city-specific food was catered, venue names were front-and-center, clocks were reset, and the crew’s day sheets read, “Welcome to Seattle,” or whichever stop was on the schedule that day—the tour model even permitted a select few socially distant in-person tickets per gig.

Although the shows were perhaps the closest thing to the real deal since early 2020, the restrictions brought about by COVID necessitated some key differences, including the need for an onset COVID Compliance Officer (CCO), a role picked up by Rundgren’s longtime Tour Manager, Production Manager and Monitor Engineer, Paul Froula.

“As the CCO, I had to abide by the area’s safety protocols, which required my team to be really spread out, screaming at each other with 2-way radios,” said Froula. “We realized right away that we needed to have comms.”

Front of House, lighting, video, and stage right were located as far from each other as the venue would allow, with the Broadcast Engineer in a separate room off the main venue. The Encore system provided full-duplex, hands-free communication with optimal audio quality for users separated by greater-than-normal physical distances and challenged by the blaring nature of being at a live show. All production team members were also equipped with RS-501 beltpacks and CC-95 single-muff headsets to ensure they did not miss a beat.

“Clear-Com is always on our rider when the venue doesn’t provide the comms system, but the role of intercom became much more crucial and made my role as the Compliance Officer much easier to enforce,” explained Froula. “Things changed from aggravation to smooth as silk, and we were able to focus on the task at-hand.”

Todd Rundgren’s hybrid tour employed many live events industry personnel whose livelihoods were severely impacted by COVID restrictions and who had been away from the work they love for over a year. Rundgren has since been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class of 2021.

“We were seeing people that were like family, and because of muscle memory everything fell into place,” said Froula. Everything was tight, the band was great, everyone was ready to go, and everyone loved it—fans, press, cast, crew, total success!”

Froula envisions a bright future for the live sound industry, with a lot of activity on the horizon. While there are still questions about what concerts may look like in the future, it’s apparent that comms will be considered from the outset of any new production. “What I’m really interested in now are the IP solutions from Clear-Com. With remote production becoming much more popular, the ability to have a key member of the team be part of the conversation from across town – or across the country, for that matter – becomes so much more important.”

The comms system and all other rental equipment was supplied by locally-based partner, TC Furlong, who Paul Froula says with admiration, “They’re always quick to help and respond. In a day everything was pulled and scheduled for delivery. TC Furlong is the number one provider in Chicago.”

The “Clearly Human” tour operated in accordance with the COVID regulations of the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago. The band and crew will be tested regularly throughout the tour and attendees were required to show proof of a negative COVID test result within 72 hours of the event.


A Few Kind Words...

Gavin Bunker, AE Live

Bubble were fantastic throughout the whole process and helped us deliver a successful event to celebrate our 30th corporate anniversary with industry peers.

Robert Cloudt, Synchronized

Bubble has been tremendously helpful to bring our marketing communication to the next level, very responsive and thinking with us together on the rightful messaging and timing across different media’s. Definitely a recommendation in case you need a well balanced media agency to help you out.

Carla Molina Whyte, Farmerswife

Working with Bubble Agency for a tradeshow has been truly amazing. The bubble team is incredibly helpful and talented. We are very happy with the results and with all the coverage we got prior and during the tradeshow!

Silvia Candido, Ateme

As usual, we were super busy before and during a tradeshow this year. What a luxury to have Bubble take care of our media relations and our social media accounts! We saw a surge of followers on LinkedIn and got good coverage in a number of publications.

Meg Travis, Iron Mountain Entertainment Services, Director, Global Head of Marketing & Communications, Entertainment Services

The Bubble team made everything easy at MPTS! From advising before the show, to facilitating client and press conversations during the show, to making recommendations on how to make the most of the connections we made there - we rely on Bubble as a key strategic partner for our sales and marketing teams.

Dan Pike- Covatic

Bubble brought their significant experience of NAB to support Covatic in kicking off a big US push at the Show. Their support was holistic, assisting us before, during and after the show and well appreciated. We had a successful show, gaining high profile new sales leads and even winning a Product of the Year Award - thanks in no small part to Bubble’s assistance with the application An experienced, credible team and a joy to work with.

Éva Szász – Lightware Visual Engineering

We’ve been working with Bubble for a couple of months now and luckily we found a common voice right away. They always have an easy, quick understanding of what we need and are delivering not only the materials we want, but more and more PR opportunities, in a proactive way. Bubble have been instrumental in raising awareness of Lightware in the run up to ISE and did a great job faciliting us onsite at ISE too including securing and conducting press appointments and manning our social accounts.

Paul Weiser – ASG

I have been working with Bubble for the past eight months. I run marketing for Advanced Systems Group based in Northern California. ASG is a technology company focused on providing technology solutions for the Media and Entertainment industry. Our business is broken down into four diverse areas. One of the challenges that Bubble helps me solve is how to market a company with multiple business units, yet still deliver a unified message for our brand. The key benefits that Bubble provides in helping guide our marketing efforts include: Industry knowledge, Expertise in all functional areas of marketing, Client service & Worldwide brand. The first year of working with Bubble has been a great experience. I’m excited to work with the team to see how we build the ASG brand in the future.

Catherine Watling – Visual Data

The Bubble team have been fantastic and the quality of the work is always exceptional – even at short notice. Our work with Bubble has produced some of the best coverage we have ever had!

Mark Forth – CVP

Working with Bubble has been integral to a rapid improvement in the delivery of our PR and communication strategy. The entire Bubble team are always friendly and professional as well as knowledgeable and well-connected. A real joy to work with!