Hearne: A Moment of Silence for Kanrocksas Promoter Who Cared

984259_607980282546128_1903669953_nLet’s give credit where credit is due…

Nobody gets in business to fail or go broke – including now-former Kanrocksas promoter Bill Brandmeyer.

Brandmeyer went down hard last summer after failing ticket sales forced him to cancel what would have been his second huge summer spectacle at the Kansas Speedway. And while he was on the receiving end of some ultra harsh criticism from both music fans and the very industry insiders who encouraged him to absorb yet another multi-million dollar hit, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that Brandmeyer’s heart was in the right place.

Was he naive to think he could come out of nowhere and swack one out of the park?


Most well-intentioned souls who are lured into the concert biz are. It’s a treacherous industry that eats its young and the fact of the matter is that there are always people in the game more than happy to capitalize on somebody new with money who’s eager to break into the biz.

Brandmeyer didn’t get into producing music festivals because he had dollar signs in his eyes. He was drawn to it because of his love for music and he fell in love with the concept of establishing a world class festival here in Kansas City.

Pure and simple.

kanrocksas_20120221211403_640_480Against a number of people’s better judgement – including Crossroads, Bottleneck and Wakarusa promoter Brett Mosiman‘s – Brandmeyer went with his gut…and his heart.

And yet even after taking a several million dollar hit on the first Kanrocksas in 2011 with Eminem and Muse as headliners, Brandmeyer licked his wounds, answered the bell and came back last year for round two.

Brandmeyer was determined to play his cards closer having lost so much money on the first Kanrocksas, so he went with a more conservative slate of headliners. That said, a look back at some of the bands he had booked illustrates that it would have been a memorable second effort.

Think about it…

Imagine Dragons put on an incredible show for Live Nation at Starlight with Capital Cities after Kanrocksas was cancelled. The band Fun. was on fire last summer. And the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT, Avett Brothers, Kendrick Lamar and DJ Tiesto were among the dozens of other acts slated to appear.

The funny thing is, the same industry insiders who encouraged Brandmeyer to get into the festival business – insiders who either did or should have known better and never would have dared to risk their own capital – were his harshest critics after he pulled the plug last year.

Go figure.

Pennywise @ KROQ Red Bull Soundstage (4/5/2012)

Imagine Dragons

So William J. Brandmeyer is out of the concert business and has moved on to other things. He’s sadder, wiser and no doubt circumspect where future “investments” are concerned.

Meanwhile local promoters and venues now have more bands to choose from for smaller, more intimate shows that don’t require fans to cough up big bucks to attend. And Kansas City no longer has a signature music fest to boast about.

However it wasn’t because a music-loving dude with a big heart and a pretty big wallet didn’t try.

Look for him in the crowd at the Avett Brothers show at Sandstone.

This entry was posted in Hearne_Christopher. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Hearne: A Moment of Silence for Kanrocksas Promoter Who Cared

  1. the dude says:

    Guy didn’t learn his lesson from the first go around and build small to something bigger. He wanted to go from 0 to 200 without the baby steps and got burnt, twice.
    This should serve as a lesson to people that want to try and start a music festival that has staying power. Start small, build a consensus and go from there.

    Guy did it all backasswards, I don’t care where his heart was.

  2. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    “And Kansas City no longer has a signature music fest to boast about.” What bullshit, Hearne. RockFest is still the largest one day music festival in the United States, and gets excellent attendance rain or shine. Just because you and the snobs living in Lawrence/JoCo look down upon the music and the people attending it, doesn’t mean it’s not wildly successful and is Kansas City’s signature music festival each and every year for the past 20 years. KanRocksas was an idiotic idea from the get go, and everyone with any common sense knew it. It was NEVER a “signature music fest to boast about” at any point during it’s glorious one year run. It was a complete and total failure and was never worth 1% of the hype it got.

    • admin says:

      You’re correct, RockFest is a monster…

      However, snob appeal aside, RockFest is a radio station promotional phenomena duplicated in any number of other markets by similar rock music stations. They hardly qualify as a true – even halfway broad based – music fests. Many, if not most of the acts are either somewhat past their prime or up-and-coming headbanger bands with a highly limited appeal outside of a narrow, specific “demographic”

      More power to The Rock and the other radio stations around the country that have benefited from these mostly single-day, highly profitable, beer-selling vehicles.

      The headliner for this year’s RockFest, Korn, is a 21 year-old metal band that peaked in the late 1990s and had its last true major recorded success more than 10 years ago before releasing its greatest hits album in 2004.Second bananas Killswitch Engage had its biggest commercial success with its 2004 album that peaked at 21 on the Billboard 200.

      It doesn’t take as much to climb the album sales charts these days with CD sales down to current levels, but if bands like Five Finger Death Punch,Steel Panther and Adelitas Way float your boat, more power to you.

      However, fun though they may be for the sort of assemblages they draw, they are not the sort of tests that truly put Kansas City on the national music map.

      In my humble opinion.

      • Bob says:

        I miss Spirit Fest.

      • CG says:

        Hearne in fairness to Dare and 98.9 I don’t know of ANY other national radio based one day concert this size, especially with rock and metal bands. I challenge anyone to find one as big, 50,000 plus one day event. Much of this events success is due to Dare and 98.9’s fan base and Bob Edwards hard work, the PD.

        It has been a huge hit, rain or mud or shine for more than a decade and is by far KC’s biggest music event every year. It also kicks off the summer and is the first big concert outside. All this makes it work.

        I think the event is the star and so the name of the bands is a bit secondary. As we all know there are not too many ‘hot’ metal or rock bands these days, sadly. So tip of the hat to 98.9.

        • Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

          Craig is right on. And the fact that the metal genre isn’t at the top of it’s game makes it even MORE impressive.

          • the dude says:

            Well, people that come out of the woodwork for these types of events have to have something to come out of the woodwork for. I mean, they cancelled the jugaloo event so where are those clowns supposed to go to? You got it, rockfust.

  3. KC Res says:

    “However it wasn’t because a music-loving dude with a big heart and a pretty big wallet didn’t try.”

    Pretty big wallet? Then why didn’t he book actual headliners? That was just a disaster of a line-up.

    • StillAtMyMoms says:

      Boom comment. Although I like Kendrick Lamar, who are really headliners these days? All of today’s performers serve a niche market.

      • KC Res says:

        I like a lot of the bands on that bill. I wasn’t taking a shot at them, but if this guy needed 50,000 attendees a day to make this work, he had to get actual headliners.

      • Bob says:

        Coachella, Lollapallooza and Bonnaroo don’t have problems selling out. And these were the stated festivals this guy claimed he wanted Kansroc…. sorry, I can’t type the rest of that name out.

      • CG says:

        Good point. Like film and TV shows, its so spread out and there are no real long term leaders, none really….there are hot singers, in every direction. Country rules, the some of the top black stars and so on down the line, but no more super groups…no Stones, no the Who, no anyone….boy those were the days.

    • admin says:

      The reason he dialed back the headliners for year two was he blew so much on Eminem and Muse in the first fest, that he made a calculated decision to try and make the sum great than the individual parts, KC Res

      And leave us not forget, he had some of the area’s top promoters consulting, booking the acts and essentially guiding him on this…both times

  4. Mr Brown says:

    Don’t worry..this year’s will blow the first two years away!

  5. balbonis moleskine says:

    They had a great music festival….Wakarusa. Until it was run out of Lawrence because they let Homeland Security put up infared cameras across the camping areas underthe guise of catching….well Im not exactly sure what….

    • admin says:

      It was a good one, balbonis but…

      It was more of a hippie, jam band fest – still is…down in Arkansas with String Cheese Incident headlining

      • Bob says:

        A cap of 15,000 people of which I think it got to that number the year WSP headlined. I loved that festival. Went there every year it was at Clinton Lake. Haven’t been down to Mulberry, but everyone who has says the place is amazing and the festival is well run.

  6. newbaum turk says:

    The bill just wasn’t good enough. Every one of those bands would be lucky to sell out the Beaumont (before it closed). The Texas Jam it was not.

    • admin says:

      Are you joking, newbaum turk?

      Imagine Dragons alone all but sold out Starlight and a number of the other acts would blow the doors off of the Beaumont, RIP

  7. He called me early on and said, “Talk me out of it.” I tried.
    I also advised him to take the money and have series of smaller shows so that one bad show wouldn’t kill him.
    Hubris is an interesting fatal flaw. It is the one I admire the most.
    Many of us secretly believe we could do things better than the current top dogs.

  8. hot harley says:

    I think..andi need this verified that the promoter got a huge amount of
    money when his family sold a business or when they did really well
    in another business.
    the concert business is one of the nastiest/cut throat/down and dirty
    businesses round…
    the guy had a dream…he was a gambler….and sometimes ya gotta
    know when to hold them…know when to fold them.
    give credit to the guy for having the balls to try this…
    hopefully this summer will be agreat one for music!!!

  9. hot harley says:

    sad to report that mark higley of disco dick and mirror balls passedaway.
    How many great times didwe have rocking to them…whether at raouls or
    the hyatt!!!!!!

  10. Good Luck Chuck says:

    The awful awful awful name killed this before it had a chance.

    They sold a few tickets to the first event simply because it had true headline acts. The second aborted concert didn’t have a true festival grade headliner, that and the really stupid name he chose, did it in.

    Kanrocksas. Jesus Christ almighty it hurts to even type that crap.

    The concert biz is about marketing and he flat out failed the very first test.

  11. sparky on shot says:

    The funny thing is, the same industry insiders who encouraged Brandmeyer to get into the festival business – insiders who either did or should have known better and never would have dared to risk their own capital – were his harshest critics after he pulled the plug last year.

    What? he went after them son….he tripped all over his groupie like being to hang out and act like a bigshot! That is fact Jack!

Comments are closed.