Hearne: Kanrocksas 2011, The Gnarly, the Obnoxious & the Excellent

Here’s the deal on Kanrocksas….

Forget the official accounts from newspaper reporters who went for free, get majorly schmoozed and aren’t about to bite anything resembling the hands that feed them. I think readers can smell something funny when they read headlines with expressions like "top notch" and "world class" and are unable to locate a single critical comment in the coverage.


Let’s take it a small step further. It doesn’t take a genius to pour over the attendee comments on Kanrocksas’ Facebook and Web site pages to get a truer picture. Having done that and spoken with attendees who both paid and got in free, I can tell you this.

By most people’s measure Kanrocksas was indeed a smash success.

Music fans had a good time, saw some excellent bands and other than the dude who died, lived to tell the story.

Was it perfect? Of course not.

Bright lights all night long in the camping area made some folks feel safer but mostly annoyed folks who wanted to sleep or party in peace. The KCK cops may have been a bit aloof and heavy handed. No big surprise there. But that’s something that should be addressable if the fest returns next year. Beer vendors wandering through the crowd hawking their wares while bands were performing was annoying to some.

Speaking of the beer dudes, Facebooker Nicole Fields had this to say:

"Wonderful!! Beer guy in concessions saved me and gave me a Guinness & H2O even though I was a quarter short. Beer guy on the field during Muse who stopped in front of me to smoke weed and make out with some skank…not so cool."

The VIP area – for which some paid a healthy premium – was a disappointment.

"The VIP could have been something very nice – instead it was a total waste of money," attendee Mike wrote on Kanrocksas Web site. " ‘Premium food & beverage purchase options’ – If by premium you mean one single Vienna Beef Hot dog truck…

" ‘Preferred main stage views’ – I do not consider a raised platform in the far back to be preferred views.  An area in front of the stage for a limited number of VIP guests would have been worth the money.

" ‘Access near the media center that will serve as the hub for band interviews and possible autographs’ – If this happened there would be no way to know it.  A concierge to help coordinate times when bands might be available to meet or sign autographs would make this a selling point.

"In the end I feel like the promoters failed to deliver much more than a clean air conditioned bathroom (thank you), closer camping location, and a bag, coozie, T-shirt, and lanyard (maybe worth $30.)  For this I paid $180 extra for each ticket.  

Had you delivered on your promises I would have been happy to pay it, as it turned out I had several hundred dollars basically scammed from me by the organizers."

The flip side of that gripe:
"VIP at a music festival is NEVER a good bargain," writes BigBoyJay.  "Why would you choose to pay more to be seperated from everyone else?  You basically paid to be taken out of the party. You paid to have a lesser experience than everyone else.  Common sense should tell you that purchasing VIP to a music festival is a dumb choice."
Apart from all that, most attendees, like Andria, who didn’t opt for VIP had a blast.
"Amazing!" she writes. "I had the time of my life.  I hope to go every year!  The lineup was great; it had some rock, some alternative, some rap…just the right mix for all different kinds of music tastes."

Which brings us to the 40-something KC Confidential staffer who paid full boat for his Kanrocksas experience…

 "I went Friday night, and spent most of the day and all of the evening Saturday and it was dandy," he reports. "Yes, it was hot – August in Kansas is like that. But people showed up anyway. Yes, it was expensive. Too expensive, for both days, if you really want to know. And this is coming from someone who has money. The beer was Kauffman Stadium-priced ($7) and while you’d think that might be a bit much, it didn’t seem to be for a lot of people, like usual."

The music was excellent, he reports.

"Crowd makeup: 98% white. 90% under 30. And it wasn’t a ‘where white met trash’ kinda crowd either. Pretty well-behaved. We saw more than a few people who didn’t sensibly approach being out in the heat, though. Also when did girls get so short? My friend was 5’6" and she was taller than 90% of the girls out there.

I gotta take exception to anyone who says Kansas Speedway is a poor venue. it was a pretty great venue. Clean, efficient, really safe. The (stages) were in a pretty compact area, so anyone complaining about how far they had to walk must be lazy or wearing long pants. No problems acoustically. Many ways to stay in the shade and stay cool. The ‘no cans, no bottles, no coolers, no dogs’ rules were all enforced, but a lot of people apparently snuck their skunky-smelling Kansas roadside weed in without any problems.

"And face it, the heat could have been a lot worse. It was actually pretty tolerable Friday, and Saturday, a stiff breeze out of the north showed up as we left, which was a blessing.

"The ‘activities – ferris wheel, for example – went mostly unused. People just weren’t interested. But they certainly liked the music. Eminem put on an enthusiastic, energetic show; Flogging Molly, fresh from Chicago’s Lollapalooza, did a great set, and both performers and fans seemed to appreciate each other at every set I was at.

"I’d say the promoters would have to be pretty pleased with the results. Hope they made a little money."

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9 Responses to Hearne: Kanrocksas 2011, The Gnarly, the Obnoxious & the Excellent

  1. chuck says:

    Ok, that is all good information.
    I could give a shit, I’m way too old to go out for ice cream, but I enjoyed readin everyone’s comments about the quality of the venue etc etc. Then again, I am easily entertained.

    Here is an example of how easily entertained I am. This, from your article Hearne—-

    “Wonderful!! Beer guy in concessions saved me and gave me a Guinness & H2O even though I was a quarter short. Beer guy on the field during Muse who stopped in front of me to smoke weed and make out with some skank…not so cool.”

    Jesus Christ thats funny! I lmao so hard I almost dropped my Chi Wau Wau!!

    I’m still laughin.

    Ya can just see her expression as she tells this story.

    BTW. Curb Your Enthusiasm is just killin it this year. God almighty, I got sick laughin at Larry David and the ‘Chat and Cut” along with the guy who’s spiritual advisor tells him to take a vow of silence, but he can still “mouth” words. Jimminy Christmas I laughed my ass off.

    One more time, the “not cool…” comment– “….. Beer guy on the field during Muse who stopped in front of me to smoke weed and make out with some skank…not so cool.”

    Not cool dude!!


    God I hope they were stoned outta their gourds when this happened and they kept sayin Beavis and Butthead stuff, like “Whoa, this sucks!”


  2. smartman says:

    A Muse Me
    Wow! Glaze has a shitty time on Friday then goes back to sell beer on Saturday. What a guy!

  3. Attendee says:

    you are out of your mind
    I went and aside from the 2 headline acts (where maybe10,000 were there)….the place was dead. It was a smash failure. Half the tickets were comps given away by radio stations. That means they sold MAYBE 12,000 each day. Chris Fritz lost millions of backers money. No big deal, Chris will do what he did in the good old days. He will declare bankruptsy of that particular LLC, screw everyone , and start new LLC for his next show. Kanrockas was a bust!

  4. Ted Nugent says:

    hehheheeh, watch out hearne, or you will start sounding like people hammering on you for being so kind to your friends horse corral ….aka… how often you resemble this remark …your remark……
    “”Forget the official accounts from newspaper reporters who went for free, get majorly schmoozed and aren’t about to bite anything resembling the hands that feed them. “”


    anyway… I didnt go…. I tried… I wanted to…but upon trying to like ANY of these sound players (most aint music) I jutscould not get up for it……. oh well…….. mutha fk I miss the old Spirit festival beneath the Liberty Memeorial…..

    BUT…….anyway… it appears EVERYING had a blast……. the kids loved it, and came for staes around….

    why not give the link to face book and let people read the reamrks for themselves… unedited…


    seems like 99% of the people loved it…….only complaints were some mix ups and VIP sucked….but it looks like some refunds will be paid to cure that.

    I think Chris Fritz should get an award for trying to pull soemthing like this off, to bring KC a real fest……

    You da man going all the fkn way back to Sedalia…
    I am glad you did not get too jaded along the way..and you are still doing this type of stuff….GOOD JOB!!!!

  5. Orphan of the Road says:

    Know the guy who was The Philadelphia Inquirer’s critic in the 70s. Went on to head a mega-record company. He’d come into the club and the act getting a good revue was based on his getting a waitress to pay attention to him. He got shot down a lot. Lots of good shows got panned, lots of bad shows got good reviews.

    Phil Cecolla was my editor at The Drummer. He became Springsteen’s photographer. That is his photo of Springsteen sitting in the basement of the club. Every band he reviewed got a straight shot. He would write how good someone was but they would never get the shot because of whatever reason. He was usually right on.

    Brewer & Shipley playing in Loose Park was my Woodstock. Getting to be a runner for sound. Sitting on the sidewalks with our motorcycles after the concert because they got so hot they were leaking at the cases.

    Festivals are a crap shoot. You like ’em or you don’t. Sometimes it’s magic, others just a crappy weekend in the heat/mud/cold with some decent music.

  6. Hearne Christopher says:

    Well, I think that’s whjat I did; read the 300 or so comments and reported that most people loved it, had a great time but that the VIP sucked and there were a few other small glitches.

  7. chuck says:

    Very cool comment Orphan!!

  8. Orphan of the Road says:

    Thanks Chuck
    Saw you comment about riding to the Sedalia festival and the Hell’s Angels. Pagans and Warlocks Philly way. Bad hombres. We had a festival/biker kegger with music and camping. The main attraction was a truck from a beer distributor who sold us the whole load. Your $20 donation got you all the beer you could drink. No attitudes. All the !% played nice one-day every year.

    Cooked dogs and burgers at a Harley show in Reading. Weekend parts guy but they let me do the cooking cause no one else wanted to do it. I was too good. These 12-20 Angels kept coming back every Sunday because of the good grub for free. I too have a face which attracts fists. But nothing ever really happened but their were times…

    Cowboy Jack Clements had suggestions for songwriters, very applicable to musicians too.

    Remember that experts are often wrong.

    Experts tend to be narrow and opinionated.

    Experts don’t buy records.

    There’s nothing wrong with waltzes if they’re played right.

    A good song gets better with age.

    And I’ll add if they last long enough, ugly buildings, madams and mediocre musicians gain respect.

  9. Rick in PV says:

    A good time
    Never been to Waka, Bonaroo, et al, but I thought the Kanrocksas organizers thought of everything. Just ferinstance, there were orange-vested guys to hold your hand, if necessary, at the top of the the rather steep stairs leading from the infield to the grandstands. Beer prices cheaper than Royals Stadium. Good sound and light. Top acts and interesting newcomers. It’ll be even better, no doubt, if it happens again.

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