Is Red Sky a Festival or just a week’s worth of lame concerts?

Category: Blog — @ 5:05 pm July 20, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

I am living vicariously through Omaha World-Herald‘s Kevin Coffey this week. Kevin (@owhmusicguy) is providing wall-to-wall coverage of Red Sky online and on his Twitter feed (follow him) He’s the only person I know who is attending this… series of concerts. I’m reticent to call it an actual “festival.”

What is a festival? Well, if forced at gunpoint, I would define it as a multi-day event that attracts participants from both inside and outside the state who are attracted enough by the line-up to ask for time off work to travel to the event, as if it were a vacation. We’re talking a real commitment. Pitchforkfest, Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Escape To New York — those are festivals. Whenever they announce their schedules, we go to their websites, peruse the line-up and decide if we want to make the investment to go.

Can you imagine anyone taking time off work to go to Red Sky? To actually travel from out-of-state to attend Red Sky on multiple days?

Red Sky is five days’ worth of evening concerts held at a baseball park. There is no central theme tying it all together. No one headliner is in any way related to another. Monday was Journey; last night was 311, tonight is Kid Rock, and so on. No doubt 12,000 people made the decision to see Journey Monday night; 12,000 people did not make a decision to attend the Red Sky Music Festival.

And like the headliners, there is no connection or theme or thread that runs between the acts that are playing the torture-chamber-like “B” and “C” stages. I assume the names were pulled from a hat. Sister Hazel, George Clinton, The Answer Team, Beatles cover band, no connection, no reason for anyone to bake themselves like landlocked lobsters on “The Griddle” (the nickname being used for the parking lot stages). Without an attractive day roster of bands that are at least somewhere within the vicinity of the headliners from a popularity standpoint, you do not have a “festival.”

You can judge a festival’s success or failure a number of different ways. You can look at overall attendance or the quality of the programming, but ultimately it comes down to how well your vendors are doing. How’s it going out there, guys? Have you recouped your investment in cash and bodily fluids? I think I know the answer judging by the “crowds” in Kevin’s mobile Twitter pics.

It’s easy to blame the weather — it’s the one thing that no one has control over. But do you really think there would have been thousands of people at these day stages with this lineup even if we’d been experiencing spring-like weather?

So with no day crowd, you’re left with… five days’ worth of evening concerts held in a ballpark, concerts that could have (should have) been held inside the nice, cool, air conditioned Qwest Center.

* * *

Tomorrow:  More on the Omaha Girls Rock concert and Jeff Davis talks talks about Playing With Fire and Sharon Jones…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



  • went there tuesday was epic dont know why you gotta hate on it so much just because bands you didnt want

    Comment by apple ton — July 20, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

  • Harsh vibes bro! Sublime was super chill

    Comment by Jeff — July 20, 2011 @ 8:57 pm

  • whoa! ‘sup bros? didn’t know you dudes could read! lates!

    Comment by JOC — July 21, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment