Hearne: Did The Kansas Speedway Kill Kanrocksas?

Kanrocksas-02_t960Nothing against NASCAR fans but…

Not all venues are created equal and sometimes a given location just doesn’t match up with a given event. Take the Kansas City Wizards and Arrowhead Stadium.

For the Kansas City Chiefs Arrowhead is a perfect fit. However for Major League Soccer it was a bust.

Even on the rare occasions when Wizards’ crowds approached 20,000 – out of more than 80,000 available seats – the place looked like a ghost town.

Which is exactly what promoters don’t want.

Having promoted concerts for several years I can tell you that emerging artists would far rather sell out a smaller venue, rather than pocket a handful more cash and rattle around in a half empty building.

It’s psychology, basically.

950726759_7595a22f52_zI remember taking KC designer Kate Spade‘s sister to a Wizards game at Arrowhead several years back and her being excited to sample the experience. Until she got there and saw the  70,000 or so empty seats and was immediately turned off.

If this was such a hip thing, where was everybody else?

That’s why the Wizards – now Sporting Kansas City – are more than happy consistently selling out a 20,000 venue even though evidence points to the fact that they could probably sell more tickets.

Which brings us to Kanrocksas at the 72,000 capacity Kansas Speedway.

Here’s what one entertainment insider said a week prior to yesterday’s cancellation:

“Kanrocksas problem goes deeper than a poor lineup. It’s almost a damaged brand after that first year.  They need to take a lesson from the Sporting KC playbook on ‘rightsizing the arena.’  No one wants to be one of 10, 000 people standing around in a place that holds 70,000.  It makes people feel like they were taken.”

Comedy club impresario Craig Glazer had a somewhat harsher take:

“I can’t imagine a worse venue in the city for Kanrocksas,” he says. “They’d have been better off in an empty field. I can’t think of one good thing to say. The seats were terrible, the views were terrible – everything was terrible.”

Kanrocksas-crowd-shot1That after attending the inaugural Kanrocksas in 2011.

“I mean, from what I saw, I don’t have one good thing to say about it. Two of my Porsche tires were flattened by the parking lot rocks. If you wanted to get libations or food you had to walk forever. I grade it and ‘F.’ It’s one of the worst places I’ve ever been to.

“NASCAR works because everybody is seated. But I mean, I had VIP seats and I still couldn’t see Eminem.”


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11 Responses to Hearne: Did The Kansas Speedway Kill Kanrocksas?

  1. the dude says:

    No buddy, that was super dave with his porsche tire ice picks and Eminem said he didn’t want you to see him.

    • Super Dave says:

      I saw Eminem and the show just fine, guess I had better VIP tickets than Glazer, I remember when Glazer cussed and bitched about this show but he never said a word about flat tires so guessing he suffered another brain fart. He bitched about the gravel and the bimbo he had with him thinking his car was a Yugo or something like that. But as all his stories they get bigger each time he tells them. You might look up the story from back then Hearne you will see I am right.

      • Hearne says:

        I remember it like you do. No flats.

        However, like a Sandstone and sprint, sometimes the VIP sections are actually farther from the stage

        • Super Dave says:

          Yes you are right about that. the VIP sections are not always the best, unless your VIP pass gave you a lot of freedom to roam as many of mine did.

  2. Fresh says:

    “Kanrocksas problem goes deeper than a poor lineup. ”

    Agreed that it was a poor lineup.

    “It’s almost a damaged brand after that first year.”

    It was a damaged brand before the first year. That name is awful. Like really awful. It is somehow worse than Rocklahoma. Which, btw, is a successful festival.

    “No one wants to be one of 10, 000 people standing around in a place that holds 70,000. ”

    Then the promoters should have acquired headlining bands.

    This really isn’t that hard to figure out.

    • the dude says:

      Location and name did not help at all.

    • admin says:

      Well, they had the headlining bands the first time out and look what good it did them.

      Not that they didn’t need them this time out as well.

      • Super Dave says:

        You know what they say, Location, Location, Location makes or breaks an event. To me having it at the speedway was like trying to have a Bar Mitzvah at a KKK hall. Not the right location.

  3. cheech lifting weights says:

    No offense Hearne but you (are older) don’t really know or understand what people who attend rock festivals like or want.

    Firstly they want a headliner. Not just one, but multiple ones. And not bands that have been around for only a few years- ones that know how to rock a huge crowd. Newbie bands tend to get lost in the festival scene. That means that fun and MGMT are less of a draw than someone like Umphrey’s McGee who isn’t famous but has dedicated fans.

    Secondly they want shade and a place to be shady. That means no $8 waters and a speedway with no shade. That means not being (effed) with by DHS and/or local cops (which is why Waka is in Ozarks rather than Larryville now) (cite: http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2006/sep/19/law_enforcement_cops_used_hidden)

    If you are going to book bands that are primarily enjoyed by people under the age of 25 then you have to make the festival cheap- like the wildly successful Vans WARPED tour which has been playing at Sandstone since I actually owned a pair of checkered Vans.

    Asking people to pay $200+ upfront without having the bands released in a venue that is a hindrance to audience enjoyment was high idiocy.

  4. admin says:

    Actually, you don’t have to be 20 years-old to comprehend the points you are making.

    And since I’m experienced as both a promoter and attendee, I do understand the type of things concertgoers want. That’s not rocket science.

    However, the people who Brandsgard hired to book Kanrocksas were in on the planning. I also understand the jam band phenomena and I’ve charted Wakarusa, among others, from the get go.

    This was a calculated move by Kanrocksas to not go with the big buck headliners. For whatever reason or reasons, it failed. For probably many reasons, not just one.

    Obviously Fun. is a brand new band with a questionable following. Crossroads thinks it would have sold out. MGMT hasn’t had an album out in a couple years, but will shortly.

    Look, when something fails there are many reasons as to why.

    Probably all of which apply in the case of Kanrocksas.

    • the dude says:

      What about the lack of local or local raised talent?
      No Janelle Monae on the bill? No Tech Nine? No local indies?
      Lots of problems, lots of problems with this one.

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