Red Sky blows it, loses its biggest night; Gus & Call, Ted Stevens, Pinkerton tomorrow…

Category: Column — Tags: , — @ 1:01 pm June 10, 2011

by Tim McMahan,

Red Sky logo

The story started going around yesterday, spread by an “insider,” and this morning Kevin Coffey made it official in the Omaha World-Herald (story here). The story — the Red Sky Music Festival has decided to cut its “festival” a day short, dropping its evening headliner spot for Saturday night altogether. Wow.

The primary quote from Kevin’s article:

“With the dates we selected, we just couldn’t find something there for that sixth evening,” said Jason Wright, vice president of booking for Live Nation Midwest. “When you’re in a limited window to work with, you’re at the mercy of the touring community. Anyone that was touring this summer, we tried to see if there was a possibility to make work. There was nothing that was available to us on that particular evening.”

Of course that’s complete bullshit. It’s a classic example of “go big or don’t go at all.” With the kind of cash MECA has to throw around they could easily have booked a band to fill that Saturday night slot. It just wouldn’t have been a band as huge as U2 or Jimmy Buffett or as Kevin suggests in his article, Lil’ Wayne or Jay-Z. Believe me, Live Nation has access to a lot of cool bands (though you wouldn’t know it by looking at the actual Red Sky line-up), they could have found an act, and I’m willing to bet Live Nation suggested quite a few to MECA, who turned them down because “It’s the last night of the festival, we have to have someone bigger than that,” or more likely “I’ve never heard of those guys, no.

MAHA organizer Tre Brashear’s defense of MECA and Live Nation in Kevin’s piece —  “I think people do labor under an assumption that it’s like going to a restaurant and picking off a menu. It’s just not that way” — is true. But somehow with a sliver of the budget that MECA has to work with MAHA has managed to put together a festival that blows away Red Sky, and does it with only one day’s worth of entertainment.

This is what happens when you turn to a conglomerate like Live Nation, who already has its hands full with more established and better-curated festivals (Sasquatch, for example, which boasts Death Cab, Decemberists, Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes…) and built-in assumptions about a Nebraska market, and you have a governing body involved like MECA, who comes off like an uncool uncle — the one who spends all day listening to sports talk radio — trying to select the music to be played at his niece’s Sweet 16 birthday party.

Imagine what One Percent could have put together with MECA’s budget…

And where is MECA in all this? According to Kevin’s OWH article: “MECA officials deferred comment to Live Nation.” Presumably MECA’s PR hack, who also goes by the name Pontius, was washing his/her hands at the time of this proclamation. Well, there’s no hiding from this one. This is MECA’s festival and MECA’s responsibility. The blame lands squarely on their shoulders.

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Not much going on tonight, but tomorrow night’s looking good.

At red hot Barley Street Tavern Gus & Call plays a show with The Low End and Ted Stevens of Cursive. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tomorrow night, it’s the return of Pinkerton, a Weezer tribute band (that performs songs only from the first two albums) whose lineup includes Clint Schnase (ex-Cursive) and Stephen Pedersen (Criteria). I’m not sure who rounds out the band, but they’re probably superstars as well. The show’s at The Waiting Room. Live karaoke band Girl Drink Drunk opens. 9 p.m., $7.

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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.

1 Comment »

  • uhhh tuesday’s night alone of red sky blows maha’s festival out of the water…

    Comment by apple ton — June 10, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

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