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'I've got the Rolls Royce now': Production chief discusses Rolling Stones' stage setup

Rolling Stones tour production director Dale Skjerseth, shown here at a 2019 FedEx Field concert in Maryland, has been working with the band since 1994.

The Rolling Stones won’t take the stage at Circuit of the Americas until Saturday — but that stage has already been under construction for almost a week.

A production crew document shared with reporters recently details the seven-day buildout of the stage for one of the biggest concert productions on the planet. It involves 25 production trucks, 16 steel trucks, two generator semi-trailers for power, and “about 150 to 160 crew, depending on where we're at and where we're going,” Stones production director Dale Skjerseth said in a late-September press teleconference just before the tour began.

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Skjerseth has worked for the band since 1994, stage-managing the “Voodoo Lounge” tour before taking charge of the whole process in 2005. Other acts he’s worked with include AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Guns N’ Roses.

Skjerseth began his career in 1979 in Minnesota, “working with club bands and things like that,” he said. “I started out as a backline guy, worked my way up the ranks, and now I'm the production director for the Rolling Stones. It’s fantastic; I’ve got the Rolls Royce now.”

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Asked to compare Saturday’s setup to the band’s Zilker Park stage in 2006, Skjerseth acknowledged that this year’s tour is a comparatively simpler production. “It was a very elaborate set” in 2006, he said. “We were 52 trucks, and now we're 25 trucks.”

For the band’s 50th-anniversary tour in 2012, “we converted to a nice deck surface and lots of flat running spaces for Mick to put it all out there — and a playing area, which is the most important,” Skjerseth said.

“We’re shooting for the sound, and the importance of the sound. There's the four large video screens in a nice little backline setup, and off we go. We went for not the cosmetics, but the basic sound.”

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Skjerseth also confirmed that the Stones are taking significant safety precautions against COVID-19 within the touring operation. “We’re running an all-vaccinated crew on both the band and the touring-crew side. Anyone touring out here has a vaccination,” he said. “Our goal is to stay safe and healthy, so we're all following our own guidelines that we have put together for our staff and crew.”