As concert reviews go, writer Hampton Stevens coverage of Kanrocksas in The Atlantic was something of an anomaly…
"A Rock Festival, as Seen for its Trash," reads the headline.
"On a sweltering night five days ago, the thick, newly-trampled grass of the Kansas Speedway was glazed by multicolored confetti, fallen steamers, shards of popped balloons, and luminous, half-spent glow-sticks," Stevens begins. "The white stage lights were glinting off the hundreds of aluminum cans and plastic bottles that once held water, soda, sports drinks, liquor and beer.
"This was the waste of the inaugural Kanrocksas Music Festival, which boasted an impressive lineup that included Eminem, Muse, Flogging Molly, Primus, Kid Cudi, A Perfect Circle, D12, Okay Go, Cage the Elephant, and Ween."
Stevens even bestowed a Kanrocksas "prettiest trash" distinction on The Flaming Lips – a "high honor…made even more impressive by the presence on the bill of Bassnectar and Girl Talk, whose audiences also know a thing or two about popped balloons and glow sticks," Hampton quipped. "The Lips’ trash was so pretty, in fact, it was almost a shame to see the janitorial teams from City Wide Maintenance come to clean it up. But come they did, just as their crews in red tunics did after every one of the almost three-dozen performances at the two-day event."
"The human waste removal process was even more elegant, especially by music festival standards," Stevens writes. "Kanrocksas fans were blessed with 441 state-of-the-art ‘Johnny On The Spot’ portable toilets, or JOTS, delivered and serviced by a 10-worker team from Deffenbaugh Industries."
Hampton’s human waste research provides a window into Kanrocksas dissapointing attendance.
Seems the number of portable toilets needed was pre-determined by calculating the festival’s expected attendance. Along with things like weather, dude to chick ratio, concession sales, etc.
However, Kanrocksas guessed high and "the underwhelming attendance—which peaked at around 35,000 fans for Slim Shady’s set—meant that anyone who did go to the festival experienced luxurious bathroom conditions," Hampton writes. "The entire weekend, in fact, the crowd produced a mere 40,000 gallons of human waste, using only 2,900 rolls of toilet paper (along with, reassuringly, 420 bags of hand-sanitizer)."
So first rate were the johns at Kanrocksas that Hampton was able to collect testamonials from concertgoers about actually sitting down (as opposed to straddling) and being able to "actually breathe" while inside.
Other highlights of Hampton’s waste case include anecdotes about a dude talking to and hugging a toilet and a KCK cop’s unsupported urban legend about a concertgoer ditching a large plastic bag filled with pot, coke, mushrooms, Oxycontin and heroin in one of the portas.
Like I said, you don’t read concert reviews like this every day….