Donnelly: Kanrocksas 2011 Wrap Up

So what’s my takeaway from the inaugural Kanrocksas festival at the Kansas Speedway?

First, I have a question:

What was the actual attendance? No, wait, even better:

How many tickets were really sold?

I’d like to know.

If you can answer that you win half of a happy hour cocktail and 30 minutes of meaningful conversation with none other than KCC godfather Hearne Christopher, Jr.

On to the observations…

For starters, the sound engineering and stage set up was excellent. At every stage, the sound was loud and clear, sometimes too much so, as at times there was a bit of bleed- through to other stages. That was probably more a product of the angles all the stages were set at than anything the techs could correct. Next time it’ll be a non-issue. 

The physical plant was huge, much bigger than I envisioned, though I have never been on the infield of a racetrack before.  And though everyone has complained about the long walks, once you were inside the venue, the walks were really nothing. The hike was from the parking lot to the venue.  Maybe next year they could do something about that – it definitely seemed like they had plenty of open space nearer the venue that even we elitist media guys weren’t allowed to take advantage of. 

Twenty-something, new KCC photographer, Katie Grogan, was feeling it as we hiked back to the parking lot Saturday night.  She spent basically all day both days out in the sweaty mess.  And she’s born and bred in KCK, so you know she’s legit. Katie spent the weekend schmoozing clueless security dudes and working her way onstage after the Brit-rock Arctic Monkeys took a liking to her.    
She gave me the real real lowdown on the seedy underbelly of Kanrocksas.  But be careful, it’s super seedy.  Here’s what she said: 

"Having this new festival at the Speedway was a fantastic idea, it’s a massive area and the overall atmosphere was awesome. It almost felt like I wasn’t at home because it’s something that never happens in Kansas but I’m super proud of KCK and I hope they continue to put on Kanrocksas every summer.

The worst thing was because it was the first year, it was very unorganized. The entrances and ticket pick-ups were confusing and asking for help was pointless because it seemed like no one knew where anything was. So hopefully if we have another one next year, it’ll be more organized.

My favorite act of the weekend was probably The Flaming Lips. Their set was so wacky and fun. The giant bubble, tons of confetti, giant hands and awesome lighting. It was very exciting."

If I had never seen the Lips before, I would probably feel the same way.  They’re memorable, different, and kind of getting a little played out.  Maybe they’re relying on this new wave of festivals and festival goers that still sees their act as a novelty.

And who can blame the Lips if the checks keep coming. Certainly not me.

Katie continues, "The vibe of the crowd was the usual for most shows – lots of drunk people. And despite the hot weather people were still dancing and rocking out like it was nothing. I love that vibe at concerts; it’s like everyone’s happy for the few hours that they last and no one has a care in the world.

I can’t say much on the food vendors because it was too expensive. No way I was buying 1 slice of pizza for $6 and a soda for $4. I actually gave in and bought a pretzel on Saturday night and it was cold and gross. Worst $4 I’ve ever spent.

I’ll agree with everyone else and say that the walk between stages was pretty far, but it wasn’t TOO bad. It was actually kind of confusing getting to the two stages that were on the other side of the Speedway. The sound was really good for the most part. Some of the acts had too much bass but maybe that’s because I was right next to the speakers.

Like I said before, I really hope that this becomes an annual thing because this is a huge deal for Kansas."

But despite some of the other issues, the biggest deal to me at live music shows is always the live music.  For my taste, the Kanrocksas lineup was simply uninteresting.  Not that that means anything. My taste is my taste, and I very likely could be WRONG.

I was most excited to see Muse, a band that is renowned for their live performances.  And they put on a hell of a show musically and visually.  But, here’s the thing: during the middle of their set, I could easily walk to the front of the stage. Know what I mean? I shouldn’t be able to do that. Not for one of the headliners. But I could, and the same for the Eminem set Friday night. 

At other big festivals I’ve been to you can’t get close to the stage unless you stake it out an hour or two early.  Normally, if you show up just before the headliner goes on, you’re talking 200 yards back. But that wasn’t the case at all this past weekend at the Speedway. No, you couldn’t get front and center, but pretty close – as close as you wanted on the edges. 

I also was pumped to see Eminem, Ween, the Black Keys, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Girl Talk, and Kid Cudi.  Other than that, nothing jumped out at me, especially considering the cost of the festival – $100 for one day, and $179, I believe, for the two. 

That’s just too much. 

I’ve had a lot of people tell me they might have been interested if the price was more in the $50 per day range, but for that lineup $100 per day was just too much.

Now, throw in Radiohead and maybe we have a different ballgame.  And the Foo Fighters.

Then we can talk.
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17 Responses to Donnelly: Kanrocksas 2011 Wrap Up

  1. Tiger Tail says:

    Didn’t Glazer Cover This Already?
    Hey Hearne, Matt, come on now, you guys have written like ten stories on this concert. Bottom line, it tanked, drew like 10% of what was wanted, was too hot, too much money and the venue sucked. Oh yeah it was hot a kid died. Glazer already went over this, he got one million comments so move on. Matt we get it, you kinda liked the thing, it was empty but you liked the bands. OK. Will it be back FUCK NO, not with Chris Fritz Zero chance. None. He took it up the ass and everyone knows it, maybe he will do something but not there. End game.

  2. smartman says:

    Credit Where It Is Due
    Chris Fritz had little, if any, skin in this game. Bill Brandmeyer through inherited family money, trust, foundation, whatever was the Sugar Daddy who did the HEAVY LIFTING.

    Like I’ve said a half a dozen times before the back story on Kanrocksas is the REAL story. Nobody has the balls to chase it. Dominic Dunne is clawing on his casket lid to get a shot at this one.

    This is Hearne’s chance to be Woodward AND Bernstein. He knows the concert biz, knows Chris and probably through his moneyed contacts can get some factual gossip on Bill Brandmeyer, if not to Brandmeyer himself.

    Old KC blue bloods despise nouveau riche inheritee’s and they dish gossip and dirt better than a drunk trailer park whore at a UAW convention.

  3. Hearne Christopher says:

    Easy Tiger…10?

    Craig went for like one set at night to VIP. He’s a 50 year-old dude.

    Matt is 32, loves music, spent two entire days and nights there and is giving a perspective that perhaps escapes you. Far more comprehensive.

  4. harley says:

    hern ia…..please stop!
    the stories on this show are too many…stoip….noone cares anyomore…
    and for the record and the sake of a corrections column….glaze is way way over 50
    will you post a corrections column on these points?

  5. Cliffy says:

    I read Glazer’s review and laughed. What’s a 60-year old dude doing covering a rock festival? Appreciate Matt’s perspective much more.

    You used a lot of “next years” in this report. From what I’m hearing that won’t happen but for those who enjoyed it I hope it comes back.

    Sure wish we had captions.

  6. In the know says:

    Lost their Asses
    They sold just 12,000 to each day. Period. The rest were “comp” tickets given away by radio stations. They call it “papering” the place to increase the per cap spending at concession stands. In a nutshell they lost their asses on this show. Probably upwards to $5million dollars.

  7. harley says:

    worst reviewer ever…worst review ever…
    you call yourself a reviewer. I will keep my comments to a professinal level because why and how
    you got to be a reviewer is beyond me.
    I’ve read thousands of reviews…and not one ever talked about the walk…how close you got to the stage (are you
    handicapped)….complained about concession prices (every venue has high beer/food prices…have you been
    out in public lately? Starbucks charges $6 for acup of coffee and you should do a piece on that!)….PRETZELS
    (you spend time complaining about a freaking pretzel…what do you want matt…and with all the sodium it
    would probably kill you!)….drunk people (yes matt…people drink booze andget drunk at music festivals and
    concerts…lots of people….and you complain about that and write about it)…..the walk (between 60 year old glaze
    complaining about his long walk and your complaining about the size of the venue area and spending so much time
    about your long treks….this is a waste of time. Most festivals are huge areas…maybe get out and visit one then
    write about this one)…..and the rest of the boring…elongated….sleepy….b.s. that you write about.
    Professionally the worst review ever….hopefully you’ll learn something and focus on the music next time.
    Trying to be a reviewer is just not your bag. Try devry institute for a new career because you sure won’t go
    far writing reviews like this….zzzzzzzzzzz…..boring…off subject…….please please pleast stop writing!

  8. harley says:

    who bankrolled this deal?
    know it wasnt fritz.
    Hern ia didn’t.
    Glaze aint got that kind of bread.
    to lose 5 million is pretty steep….
    probably took in about 4 million (i’m guessing and porbably not a great guess)
    so who took the bath on this deal….won’t happen again…..stick to small show…hit
    a few singles instead of trying to hit a home run……
    I saw a name in an earlier post….started with a “b” …….
    who put it together did a nice job for initial effort….maybe next time.

  9. Hearne Christopher says:

    in his mid 50s, not 60.

    point being that matt had a far different perspective

  10. Hearne Christopher says:

    I checked with one of the radio groups that helped promote Kanrocksas and was told the only tickets they got and gave away were straight trade. In other words, no papering.

    Entercom wouldn’t even accept advertising because they apparently felt it would hurt Beach Ball. Which I hear is hurting. Weak lineup. Lousy economy. And Kansasrocksas didn’t help.

  11. Hearne Christopher says:

    Clue in, H Man. This wasn’t a concert review per se. Go back and re-read those if you want. This was an overview of a first year festival. How it came off.

    You can’t relate because your idea of a wild live music ride is a trip to Branson. That’s understandable. No worry about the walks there, they pick you up in those little shuttle dealies, don’t they?

  12. Hearne Christopher says:

    You guys do like to round Craig’s age up, don’t you?

    Don’t know that I’d characterize Craig’s visit to Kanrocksas as him “covering” it. he just went and shared his observations.

  13. Katie says:

    Don’t bash on Matt. I’m the one who was bitching about the food and drunk people.
    I’m not a writer, so you sir, need to calm yourself.

  14. That Guy says:

    Thank you Katie and Matt… great pix Katie, and great job getting up close.

    Hearne you cant have too many stories on this,,,what the fuck are these Kansas hating Missori mules moaning about? We understand they cant stand the fact tha Kansas is trouncing Misoouri in every aspect of everything. You stupid Missorui mules need to skip past articles you dont like…why comment if you are bnored….OR ARE YOU REALLLY BORED..

    Lets hope they made an investement this year….and recouped enough to put it on again. The reviews from attendees was 99% positive.
    LETS DO IT AGAIN NEXT YEAR….AND ….maybe live up to the name..ROCK….ROCK AND FKN ROLL!!!!

    ROCK IN THE MIDDLE OF KAN SAS……. KANSROCKSAS… your hearts out you whiney lil btches form misery….

  15. Shiz says:

    Wow yall some ol bieeathces on this

  16. That Guy says:

    See more of Katies pix

    Great pictures Katie 🙂

  17. That Guy says:

    Misery sucks
    btw- You know what is REALLY REALLY funny, us folks from Kansas will claim Westport ….P&L….. The Chiefs and Royals…The Plaza……. AND THE LEGENDS…. THE SPEEDWAY.. THE SOCCER TEAM….LIVE STRONG PARK…AND ALL OF KANSAS CITY FOR THAT MATTER!!!! WE OWN IT ALL ….move the stateline 50 niles to the East…and you Missouri mules nad go to St Louie…. esp esat St Louie Ill…that is exactly your style… you Misery goofballs…. keep on hatin Kansas …..WE LAUGH AT YOU


    You misery idiots can have crossrodskc too…piece of crap that it deserve it..HAHAHAHAA

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