In an effort to revolutionize the concert industry, Kid Rock has launched one of the most interesting tours in recent memory, one that pairs him with corporate sponsors like Jim Beam and artists like Uncle Cracker and ZZ Top when the tour hits Chicagoland Friday night at the sold out First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park. What follows is the story of Kid Rock's ambitious efforts and the opportunity to win three tickets to Friday night's sold out show...
In April, Kid Rock put out a press release touting his "$20 Best Night Ever" U.S. summer tour.
Sick and tired of pricing out the average fan, Rock sat down with Live Nation, put his money where his mouth is and used his clout to force promoters to work with him to put together a tour that was not only appealing to a variety of demographics, but easily affordable (and perhaps more importantly accessible) to the average fan.
For me, growing up in the south suburbs, attending concerts at the then World Music Theatre (and later the New World Music Theatre, Tweeter Center, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre and more) consisted of nothing more than a quick trip down Harlem Avenue. I've got the ticket stubs to prove that I saw artists (Rock and Roll Hall of Famers in some cases) like John Fogerty, Jewel with Rusted Root, Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas, the J. Geils Band, the B-52's with The Go-Go's and more... all for under ten dollars per show during summers between 1998 and 2000.
At the time, these were major touring artists, performing at the largest possible venue in a major city. And I get the feeling that growing up in the middle class in the midwest, Kid Rock may have developed his early love of live music in a similar way.
Some of those shows were good... and some weren't. And let's be honest, seeing a show in Tinley Park, even then, often meant terrible sound, exorbitant concession prices and a forty-five minute wait before you could finally get out of the parking lot afterwards - It was, at times, less than ideal and sometimes it still is. But the point is that it exposed me to the live concert experience at a young age, for an affordable price and it's a bug I've never exactly been able to shake.
But that's not a realistic possibility in the current concert landscape.
People like to say "rock is dead." But I look at it more as the fact that the average fan has been forced to pick one or two major shows per year (forget per summer) due to the high cost of tickets, beer, parking, food and souvenirs. As a result, a generation of potential fans has missed out on the opportunity to get hooked on the incredible experience that live music can often be.
And that's what Kid Rock is trying to change by putting his money where his mouth is with this tour in support of his tenth studio album Rebel Soul.
"Everyone knows the economy is still hurting people across the country, but I didn't want that to be a reason why everyone couldn't get out and enjoy themselves on a summer night. So we're going to throw the biggest and best party ever, with prices across the board that are reasonable and transparent. No hidden fees, no gimmicks. We're not sparing any expense on this tour, we're going over the top as always, but that doesn't mean we're going to ask the fans to pay more. If this works we're going to play to packed houses of fans who appreciate what we're doing. If it doesn't, might be a long summer. But someone has to go out there and fight these high prices and change things up, and I'm lucky enough that I can afford to take a pay cut. $20. Best night ever" said Rock in a press release.
What exactly is Kid Rock offering on this tour that makes it so different?
- A $20 flat fee from the pavilion to the lawn (parking and service fees included) for any tickets purchased at Wal-Mart or a Live Nation box office
- "Special $4 draught beers" (Kid Rock fans aren't shy about their alcohol ingestion so, frankly, this is pretty incredible)
- Value food packages and cheaper parking (where possible)
- Free samples of Jimmy John's sandwiches (at select venues)
- Free coffee at the end of the show (See beer prices above... and drive safely)
- $20 t-shirts (Because really, when's the last time you bothered shelling out $45 for a shirt? Sorry, Rolling Stones fans)
How exactly is this all possible on a tour that has already included Kool & The Gang on past dates and will feature both Uncle Cracker and rock legends ZZ Top this Friday in Tinley Park? It's a viable option for three reasons...
- Kid Rock is taking a pay cut
- Kid Rock is scalping his own tickets (Yes, seriously. 1,000 tickets each night will sell for exorbitant prices... which makes it possible for the other 27,000 tickets to cost only $20)
- Kid Rock has partnered with corporate sponsors
Say what you want about the man's music... but how many other artists are out there trying this hard to provide a quality concert experience for their fans? Beyond that, Rock is trying to create a new generation of live music fans that will not only check out his show, but others that are affordable too (the question is will any other artists follow his lead?).
But it's the willingness to partner with corporate sponsors that actually intrigues me most. Gone are the days when partnering with a corporation would quickly earn artists the once dreaded "sell out" label.
In today's continually redeveloping music landscape where the album has been devalued and recorded music doesn't sell, licensing music has become a crucial revenue stream for any artist. And what's more, partnering with corporate sponsors has become a great way for an artist to make a few bucks and keep tour expenses down, resulting (sometimes anyway) in cheaper tickets for the fan. And while it doesn't always work, it's hard for me to hate a practice that has the ability to make things better for the fan when utilized properly.
And Kid Rock is a great example of how to do it without "selling out." For years he's joined forces with Jim Beam (do you think Kid Rock fans like bourbon?). In 2009, for instance, he was practically synonymous with Beam's black-cherry infused bourbon Red Stag, working with the distiller on a campaign to support the military.
And that partnership continues in 2013 as Beam works together with Kid Rock on this tour, offering one lucky fan the chance to run off and join the circus as Kid Rock's personal bartender on select dates via the "Mix For Kid Rock" contest. The winner was Loren Sletten of Sarasota, Florida who studied under the tutelage of Beam Global Spirits Master Mixologist, "Bobby G" Gleason and he's been out on tour with Rock since.
Personally, I had a mental image of "Mixologist" for Kid Rock consisting of little more than pouring bourbon into a shot glass but Sletten tells me there's more to it than that. "It’s all about presentation. One that thing that 'Bobby G' said that really stuck with me is 'A good drink isn’t a strong drink, it’s a balanced drink.'"
And does Kid Rock have a favorite drink... or is he a shot guy? "This will be [my] third and final stop in Chicago this Friday. When I was in New Orleans, we came up with my own signature cocktails and one of the drinks is called 'The Simple Man.' I’m a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan and Kid Rock references Lynyrd Skynyrd quite a bit so we named the drink 'The Simple Man.' That’s the one he seems to have enjoyed the most." (Editor's note - "The Simple Man" recipe relies primarily on Jim Beam's "Devil's Cut" bourbon and follows in full below)
One of the aspects of Kid Rock's career that I've always been fascinated by is his ability, not just to appeal to a certain demographic, but a seemingly rare authenticity that allows him to effortlessly blend with his fanbase, not just appeal to them. I think his summer mixologist Loren Sletten sums it up nicely: "I kind of feel like I grew up with Kid Rock in a way. Back then he was kind of wild and crazy with the way his music was and now he’s kind of mellowed out and I feel like it’s kind of a mirror image of my life in that respect. I’ve gone to a lot of concerts in my life [but] I feel like this is a real snapshot of Kid Rock fans. It’s not just the people that can afford it or [go because] it’s the cool thing to do that night."
- Jim Ryan (@RadioJimRyan)
(Ticket giveaway details below)
The fine folks at Jim Beam have made available a set of three tickets to be given away for this Friday's Kid Rock/ZZ Top/Uncle Cracker show at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, IL. The winner must reside within the Chicagoland area, can't be a Tribune Company employee, have any affiliation with ChicagoNow or be an acquaintance of Jim Ryan, must be over 21 years of age and must be able to correctly answer the following trivia question:
His partnership with Jim Beam bourbon isn't Kid Rock's only dalliance in the beverage industry - he also brews his own beer. What is the name of that beer and where is it brewed?
The first correct answer posted in the comments section below wins a set of three tickets to see Kid Rock this Friday at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre. If the answer isn't in the comments section below, it doesn't count. Trivia answers will be evaluated by Jim Ryan and the decision of the judge is final. Tickets courtesy of Jim Beam.
(Details on Friday's SOLD OUT Kid Rock show after the jump)
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Kid Rock's "$20 Best Night Ever" Tour
First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
19100 South Harlem Avenue
Tinley Park, IL 60477
Friday, August 30, 2013
Parking lots open at 4PM
Gates open at 5PM
Show starts at 6:40PM
Performing: Kid Rock, ZZ Top, Uncle Cracker
$29 ($20 at Wal-Mart or Live Nation box office locations) Click HERE to purchase tickets
Update: SOLD OUT
Loren Sletten’s Kid Rock Cocktail
"The Simple Man"
1 part Jim Beam "Devil’s Cut"
2 parts Ginger Ale
1 part Pineapple Juice
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Build over ice in a highball glass. No garnish.