Submitted by: Christine Pileckas, Director of Marketing
“Live touring is so healthy right now, the demand for live music is huge,” Rob Beckham, VP for William Morris Endeavor Entertainment – Nashville (very big agent in the music business) expressed to us in the opening session of the Billboard Touring Conference & Awards at the Roosevelt Hotel in NYC Wednesday morning. I’ve been in NYC since Tuesday, along with our GM AJ Boleski, hearing from the most savvy assessors of the live music industry and their thoughts on where the industry is headed. The conference is attended by professionals in all walks of the music business – artist managers, agents, promoters, and venue managers. It’s a breeding ground for great deals and bookings to happen and a chance for us to continue putting Wichita on the radar with the people responsible for booking tours.
The opening session titled “Artist Development: Who’s Got Next? consisted of 3 big name promoters, including Kevin Lyman who produces the Warped Tour, and 3 big time agents. The panel weighed in on proven artist development touring strategies and what’s worked to continue to push acts up the venue chain. The session wrapped up with each panelist giving their prediction of which artists are on the rise and will breakout to the next level in 2014. Predictions included Awolnation from Omar Al-Joulani, VP Touring for Live Nation and Chris Young and Justin Moore from the marquee country guy, Rob Beckham.
Wednesday night we were all in for a treat as Billboard sent conference attendees to a sold out Florida-Georgia Line concert at the Best Buy Theatre in Times Square. This is the second time I’ve seen the country duo perform, and their absolute passion and love for what they do is vividly evident in the energy and enthusiasm they bring to the stage every time. We somehow found our way to the front of the 2,100 GA capacity theater where we got the true fan experience — beers were spilled on us, a fight broke out right next to us, and younger fans were not shy about expressing their affections towards one another. The entire night was a blast, and yet another reminder of why we work so hard to do what we do — we’re in the business of fun, and we’re here to create memories for fans that they’ll never forget.
Not only did Billboard send us to a Florida-Georgia Line concert, they brought the group in the following day to participate in and be the focal point of a case study regarding artist development. Tyler & Brian of FGL shared how they met, what sparked their decision to start making music, their journey to being discovered, and what success and life on the road has been like. Their manager, record label, and agent (also all on hand during the case study) discussed the strategy behind sustaining the band’s success and how they make key decisions such as when to put out a new record, what tour the group should be on, when to headline shows on their own, if they should tour internationally, and more.
The conference ended Thursday night with the 10th Annual Billboard Touring Awards. George Strait was in attendance to accept the “Legend of Live” award. Other awards included Jeff Dunham being named “Top Comedy Tour” and Taylor Swift’s Red Tour being named “Top Tour Package.”
If you’re headed to NYC soon, I highly recommend Smoky Burger Organic on 3rd & West 44th for an amazingly delicious organic burger and Gregory’s Coffee on 5th and W 44th for a really good cup-a-joe. Matilda on Broadway was also fantastic, and we heard rave reviews on Kinky Boots.
In the year 2012, the story of Batman came to life on November 13 and 14 at INTRUST Bank Arena as Batman Live marked its first ever tour stop in Wichita, Kansas. This action packed show featured impressive stunts, pyrotechnics, illusions and video screen sequences. The unique experience that Batman brought to Wichita was a non-stop thrill ride, engaging the audience from start to finish. In case you missed the ultimate adventure, here is a recap.
Zac Brown Band with Special Guests Oliver Wood and Casey Driessen took the stage at INTRUST Bank Arena on November 6, 2010. The year 2010 was an eventful year for Zac Brown Band, with a GRAMMY Award for “Best New Artist,” “Top New Vocal Group” from the Academy of Country Music Awards and “Breakthrough Video of the Year” from CMT and USA Weekend. On this day in history, Zac Brown Band stayed true to its country roots and made sure that the crowd at INTRUST Bank Arena went home happy.
Our General Manager, AJ Boleski, and Assistant General Manager, Chris Kibler, are both in Nashville, Tenn. this week for the International Entertainment Buyers Association (IEBA) Conference. IEBA’s annual conference stands alone in the entertainment industry. The three-day conference schedule includes live music from the most current artists, providing diverse entertainment options for buyers. Providing unparalleled networking opportunities, IEBA constantly strives to grow the industry through providing information and offering educational opportunities throughout the conference.
Artists performing at this year’s conference include Lee DeWyze, Big & Rich, Danielle Bradbery, Charlie Worsham, Seether, Three Days Grace and Cassadee Pope. AGM Chris Kibler enjoyed this morning’s showcase featuring Robin Meade, CNN News Anchor and aspiring country artist. The showcase provided a very cool, intimate setting to interact with Robin and hear her and the band sing.
Carrie Underwood brought her “Play On Tour” to INTRUST Bank Arena on October 19, 2010 with Special Guests, Sons of Sylvia and Billy Currington. Underwood donated 36 cents of every ticket sold from the fall tour dates to Save the Children’s United States Programs. This initiative was inspired by the “36 cents” written in the lyrics of her album track “Change” which addresses how even the smallest bit of spare change that one might have can add up to make a difference and help “change” the world. Carrie Underwood and Special Guests left Wichitans wanting more from a night that would not soon be forgotten.
The group Hillsong took the stage at INTRUST Bank Arena on September 23, 2012 for the Cornerstone Tour. The contemporary Christian artists gave the crowd a taste of their newest album, “Cornerstone.” The Aussies left the crowd inspired and moved.
Submitted by Eric Proffitt
(September 12, 2013) – 1 concert, 1 stage, 1 night, 3 headlining acts!! Country superstar Luke Bryan brought his first major headlining tour to Intrust Bank Arena with opening acts Florida-Georgia Line and Thompson Square for one unforgettable show.
Florida-Georgia Line was technically considered the opening act, but is far from it. Florida-Georgia Line is set to head out on their own headlining tour this fall, just a short time after making their way on the country scene. They released their first single “Cruise” in August of 2012, and in less than a year it had become the best-selling song by a country duo in history. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard came out with high energy and never slowed down through their set, which also included their second #1 hit “Get Your Shine On” and their current hit “Round Here.”
Two-time vocal duo of the year, Thompson Square, rose up from underneath the stage to dazzle the crowd with “Here’s to Being Here.” They slowed down their set with a touching hit song “Glass” in which they showed video of themselves in a third world country and children holding signs of the words to the song. The song really showed off Shawna Thompson’s powerful voice. The husband and wife duo of Keifer and Shawna Thompson burst onto the scene three years ago with their platinum #1 single “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not,” and had everyone singing along after Keifer said he had a question for the Wichita audience. They finished their almost hour long set with an emotional song “If I Didn’t Have You,” a song written about the loss of Shawna’s father. The duo sounded great, especially so soon after Keifer Thompson was put on emergency vocal rest after surgery on his vocal chords earlier this spring.
At 9:30 the lights went back off and Luke Bryan rose from beneath the stage with only his silhouette visible against the video screen. He came out to the middle of the cross-shaped stage and performed “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” He sang hit after hit, while dancing back and forth on the stage and keeping the energy high. The coolest part of the night was when he was singing a few of his songs from his Spring Break LP and decided to lay down on the stage and take about a dozen cell phones and took “selfies” of himself or with the cell phone owners in the picture with him. Definitely a lifetime of memories for those lucky Luke Bryan fans. Halfway through his set, Florida-Georgia Line joined him on stage for a song, and then Thompson Square joined in for a very fun performance by all 3 acts. The 2013 Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year showed how he earned those honors, with his hip shaking and dancing on stage that made the ladies scream each and every time. He mixed in Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” in the middle of “All My Friends Say” and came back for an encore with his #1 singles “I Don’t Want This Night To End” and “Country Girl (Shake It For Me).”
It was a very high energy show from the very beginning to the absolute end. All three acts were tremendous and we were lucky to have this tour come through our city for one non-stop dance fest night.