Speedways have been successfully hosting concerts for years, Altamont’s 1969 tragedy not included.. Though Altamont had roughly ten times the crowd as Kanrocksas did this past weekend at Kansas Speedway, 300,000 versus roughly 30,000, but Altamont did not have close to the infrastructure that made the first ever Kanrocksas a success for the fans even it if might not have been profitable for the event.
Kansas Speedway boasts a 1.5 mile triangular oval with enough space that it could comfortably host a professional baseball stadium and football stadium within its interior infield. Chris Fritz has been managing and producing concerts since he was 16 years old and foresaw the scale that could be achieved in a venue such as this. One of the most redeeming qualities of the Speedway was its pre-existing infrastructure that is already in place for a large number of fans: plumbing and permanent toilets; physical, air-conditioned, structures within the infield that could house site management, media, and emergency personnel; grass surfaces for the fans and paved surfaces for temporary services; and a very large grandstand with permanent seating that not only gave a respite from standing but also provided necessary shade in the afternoon. For those who didn’t mind sitting on a paved surface, the track itself has a natural incline and many fans chose this location during the headline sets of Eminem, Friday, and Muse, Saturday, to absorb the sights and sounds (and whatever else they might have gotten into the venue).
Three stages and a tented dance area shared the infield with a series of activities designed by Art Director John Bukaty. Individual risers (think large crates) dotted the area for animated dancers and a large wall was constructed for master artists to create paintings inspired by the live music. Tents of varied shapes provided shade and misting stations. For those who wanted more than just mist, or an in-promptu shower for the campers, there was a designated rain tent. Water filling stations flowed non-stop and could be found within the main grandstand and at the center of the infield. Our personal favorite addition to the venue were the roughly one dozen local food trucks which provided tried-and-true food specialties that ranged from gourmet meatball sandwiches (Italian with shaved Parmesan and basil oil or spicy Thai with an Asian slaw) to vegetarian gyros (curried chickpeas and roasted vegetables with feta and tzatziki sauce on a pita) to fresh bakery food and gourmet coffee; and all at prices that were a reasonable $3-7. The food trucks were in addition to the typical, and numerous, beer and food kiosks that one would expect. Liquid refreshment was never more than a few feet away as individuals with coolers stocked with beer and water were everywhere.
Josh Hunt of Mammoth Entertainment put together a stellar first year lineup that went well beyond Eminem and Muse with a diverse spread of talent. The Black Keys impressed with their Akron-based, garage-produced, blues inspired rock. Les Claypool of Primus gave yet another mind blowing display of bass-centric funk metal.
Cage the Elephant, Kid Cudi, A Perfect Circle, Flogging Molly, and Ween all had great sets. Didn’t see Bassnectar but didn’t need to, he was impressive from across the venue.
Photos from the two days will be up today!
In Photos: FLAMING LIPS
In Photos: D12 & Kid Cudi
In Photos: Fitz and the Tantrums, Ween, & Primus