Kanrocksas Music Festival 2011: What to Expect, What to See and More
Finally, Eminem has collided with NASCAR -- with nary a cowboy hat in sight. This isn't a gone-country Darius Rucker-style conversion, but Missouri-born Marshall Mathers, not to mention 23 other popular and indie acts that normally wouldn't be caught within sight distance of a stock car, will perform at the Kansas Speedway for Kansas City's inaugural music festival: Kanrocksas. The lineup -- impressive for an infant festival -- consists of recognizable names for a variety of tastes. For example, before Eminem's closing set on Friday, you can catch the Flaming Lips (which may be the fest's apex), and before that, spend the evening disco-ing with Treasure Fingers and dancehall dry-humping to Major Lazer in the electro-focused Critical Mass Tent. That's right -- in a state whose national reputation oscillates between whitebread blandness and downright-scary social conservativism, Kanrocksas has made a concerted effort - at least in its bookings - to reach out to party people of all stripes.
Courtesy of Kanrocksas
Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas
Driving Distance from St. Louis: 4 hours, 15 minutes; 259 miles
Cost: Two-day general admission ticket costs $179. Until August 4, you can get a single-day ticket for $99. Both tickets include camping and parking.
Lodging: Since camping is included in the price of the ticket, and coolers, glass bottles and small grills are allowed in the areas - staking out a patch of grass near the festival grounds sounds like a good option. This is primitive camping on adjacent fields, and you can park a car/truck/SUV on your campsite. Kanrocksas encourages campers to "get to know your neighbors, watch their stuff and they will return the favor." Or you can always book a hotel room in nearby Kansas City, which could run you upwards of $70 per night.
Key Acts: Sharing a weekend and location within driving distance of Chicago, this brand-new festival also shares many of its all-caps headliners with Lollapalooza, including Eminem and Muse. In fact, it's difficult to find one of the Kanrocksas acts who will not also be performing in Chicago the same weekend.
Though this might be St. Louisans' rare opportunity to see Muse, who cancelled its Scottrade Center gig last November, we're most excited about high-energy up-and-comers Cage the Elephant, leggy retro-rocker Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, and the Joy Formidable, who played through a spring tornado at the Luminary Center for the Arts.
Shiny stuff: Adding to the festival atmosphere are attractions like onsite interactive art exhibits, a hot-air-balloon glow, a fireworks display, a seven-story Ferris wheel and a 40-foot high water slide called -- what else? -- Sliderocksas, which costs $5 per ride or $10 for an unlimited one-day pass.
Pack: Sunscreen by the jug and a camo flag emblazoned with #88 for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Shade may be limited on the expanse of the Speedway's infield, and both of these items can be used to shield your pale, delicate-as-Ellie Goulding skin from the August sun.
Know This: There are limits on "excessive alcohol," so attendees can bring "two cases of beer, one bottle of hard liquor and two boxes of wine per person," according to the festival website, which should be plenty to make it through two days.
Crowd: We predict less-seasoned, less-than-hardcore festival-goers - like the spankin'-new fest itself. And people from Kansas. We are fascinated by the unimaginable mashups of people we may find in the Critical Mass Tent.
St. Louis Connection: It's hard not to feel competitive with the Other Missouri city, but anyone who complained about the name of our own new outdoor music festival -- LouFest -- should thank her lucky stars we didn't end up with a janky mouthful like KanROCKsas. (Get it? "Rock" is in the middle of Kansas, like the state is in the middle of the country...)
Worth it? By camping, bringing your own food and eating outside the Speedway, you can make the experience less expensive. Still, Kanrocksas tickets average out to a similar price per day as Lollapalooza, which features a shit-ton more bands and attractions, though you'll need to find a place to stay in Chicago. If the Kanrocksas bands are the biggest reasons you'd have gone to Lollapalooza, then by all means: Go West.