People seem to be in shock that Rod Stewart and Blondie didn’t have better overall ticket sales at Big Music Fest this year (I am not one of them.) They had to cancel the Sunday night of the festival. The organizer said that he had never seen anything like it before. That it just didn’t take. They advertised the performers at an insane level. If you listened to Dave FM or 570 news there were advertisements for the event every couple of commercial breaks. I am kind of dumbfounded why people thought those two in particular would work.
What do you think of when you think of a festival? You think of an intense crowd that is extremely into the music. They have passion for the music, and the band that is performing. What do you think of when you hear the name Rod Stewart? I think of the 70’s playboy that broke the hearts of multiple middle aged women. Or the crooner that softened up in his older age. I think of a casino crowd. As soon as I heard that Rod Stewart and Blondie were the headliners of Sunday night, I knew it would bomb.
I know the pulse of KW. What we are into, and what is going to sell out 10,000 people. Soundgarden and Jane’s Addiction have this ability. Rod Stewart does not. People that go to festivals have a certain vibe about them. And that vibe in Kitchener in particular, is rock music. The thing that is the most frustrating is that with the money that they spent on Stewart and Blondie; that they could have had a fantastic performance by a band that might not be back on tour when the time is right. Rush, Tom Petty, Foo Fighters, and AC/DC all would have been perfect headliners that would have been right near the same dollar mark of Blondie and Rod Stewart put together. Rush might be dreaming a bit, but it couldn’t have been that far off.
This reminds me of the people that used to run Centre in the Square. Bringing in acts that only made a small percentage of people happy. I have to admit that they have been much better over the past couple of years, but they were awful for the decade before that. As a rock fan in this city, you really have nothing to look forward to. You have to drive to Toronto or London to see a band that could have easily been supported in KW. The city just doesn’t have the right people pushing the buttons. Bringing in the type of acts that will have a chance to succeed. Kitchener is desperately trying to get the downtown back up and running. There are not enough places that have bands that aren’t just local acts. Starlight lounge does its best in Waterloo. They have indie rock. But with the small venue, they can only support certain bands. Maxwell’s have brought in a couple of decent bands recently in the Tea Party and the Headstones, but we are still missing that in between place. A place where you can draw in a couple of thousand people every so often. This is why Big Music Fest is so important. We need to show that we can support live music in this area.
The mistake of booking those acts is such a black eye on the city. It’s not our fault that you brought in the wrong artists. We are already paying huge dollars for a festival that in other cities would be half of the price. But we are willing to pay it, if it means that you can bring particular artists to the city, and we don’t have to drive into the parking lot called Toronto. After hearing the runner of Big Music Fest speak, it sounds like he has gotten it through his head that this city is a rock and roll city. We will not support acts just because they are big names. Kitchener really needs to rattle the windows for Soundgarden and Jane’s Addiction to show our appreciation for great music. And to also show the people that are bringing in the talent that this is the type of music that we want. At the end of the day I just want to enjoy the sunshine, and watch a performance from a band that I thought I would never get to see in my own backyard.