When it comes to the future of the music festival known as Kanrocksas, mum’s the word…
That’s not a good sign. Calls to pretty much all-parties involved (that could be reached) from last summer’s event at the Kansas Speedway yielded a single answer; nobody knows for sure.
Again, not a good sign.
Established festivals like Bonnaroo and Wakarusa have had their dates picked out and up for all to see for months. For good reason. Because to succeed at the level these multi-million dollar events need to, it’s vitally important to keep the faithful informed so they can make plans to attend.
Last year’s inaugural Kanrocksas stumbled out of the gate with a late April announcement.
And it paid the price for being tardy.
Pretty much everyone agrees Kanrocksas lost money, the question being, how much?
One number tossed around by insiders is Kanrocksas may have lost up to $4 million.
"You can have a $20 million event that loses $4 million and say, ‘Well, that’s startup money," says one entertainment source. "But when you have a $6 million event and lose $4 million, that’s like losing 70 to 80 percent of revenue."
One reason the fest may have lost more money was because it reportedly had to pay a premium to get acts to play a first ever event.
"When you have something like Kanrocksas that nobody’s ever heard of, the bands are really going to hold you over a barrel," says the source. "Where you normally might have to pay two or three times their normal guarantee, Kanrocksas may have had to pay as much as eight to ten times that much. They had to pay way too much money."
More generous estimates of the number of attendees at the two-day Kanrocksas say 60,000 people were there or 30,000 per day. Others say that number probably was far lower, possibly as low as 15,000 to 25,000 the first day when Eminem headlined and 12,000 to 15,000 the second, with Muse atop the bill.
"You can have 35,000 at the turnstiles, but that doesn’t mean 35,000 (paid)," says one source. "That could mean 25,000 (paid). They could have put it at Sandstone or the soccer stadium, but they put it at the racetrack thinking they would maybe have150,000 to 200,000 people. And it was the biggest failure of all time."
That said, anecdotal reports indicate attendees had a good time and the festival went off with few hitches.
And of course, Kanrocksas organizers vowed to return in 2012.
"First Kanrocksas won’t be the last, organizers say," reads a headline in the August 11, 2011 Shawnee Dispatch.
“We can’t wait ‘til next April to figure this out,” organizer/promoter Chris Fritz told the Dispatch.
"The goal, Fritz said, is to at least break even next year and then start making money by the third year. In the meantime, he said they want to build on what they started this year, bringing in more art, music and attractions and encouraging more sustainability and community involvement."
But while other major festival’s Web sites have long since announced their 2012 dates, Kanrocksas site remains silent.
"Thank You For Helping Us Make The First Kanrocksas So Memorable!" it still reads from last summer.
Hack a little further in and you may find this line buried in the "news" section: "Hope you have a great year and look forward to seeing you again next year!"
Questions about Kanrocksas 2012 plans on Facebook remain unanswered.
"Is this happening in 2012," asked a bikini clad Kristy Burrell yesterday. No response.
"Is there going to be a 2012 show , getting a lot of different answers" William Schlicht asked Sunday.
"Nope," answered Ryan Oswald.
"You’re not going to get an answer there. They keep deleting the post about it," chimed in Randy Robbins.
"Was this a one time festival??" Johnathan David Willams asked Saturday. "It’s festival time…and it’s all crickets over here?"
Calls to the Kansas Speedway yielded little more.
Haven’t heard anything about it, say Speedway ticket sellers. "It hasn’t been determined yet," added a woman in the security office.
There’s also talk the millionaire dude who bankrolled last year’s Kanrocksas is o-u-t, which could mean a new checkbook is needed.
Or the possibility of dialing Kanrocksas back to a two or three day mini fest at Sandstone and picking up bands on their way to or from Lollapalooza like last year.
(Incidentally, Lollapalooza will go down in Chicago’s Grant Park August 2-5 this summer.)
Or Kanrocksas could skip a year, some have suggested.
The official word?
"At the moment we can’t comment," says Kanrocksas rep Matt Camden. "We’re looking at a lot of options for when to do it and how to do it, but at the moment we’re not saying anything definitive."