Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cheap Trick, Todd Rundgren bookings create battle of the bands

ROCKFORD — The promoter of a concert featuring Todd Rundgren with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra is a little worried. And not just a little angry.
The BMO Harris Bank Center, less than a half-mile away, is staging a concert by a contemporary band — Cheap Trick — the same night, June 1.
Tickets for the June 1-2 Rundgren shows at the Coronado Performing Arts Center went on sale March 3. The Cheap Trick concert was announced March 26, and tickets went on sale March 31.
Doug Ford, co-owner of, a Birmingham, Ala.-based concert promotion company for Rundgren’s shows, said the two concerts will compete for the same customers.
“I am not happy with it,” he said. “What I do know is that Cheap Trick and Todd are (going after) the same market. People can only spend so much; you have to pick and choose.”
Competition or ... ?
Rundgren, known for hits including “Hello, It’s Me” and “Bang on the Drum All Day,” and hometown favorite Cheap Trick, known for hits including “Surrender” and “I Want You To Want Me,” played on the same bill in their heydays, and Rundgren produced Cheap Trick’s 1983 “Next Position Please” album.
But Gordon Kaye, general manager of the BMO Center, said both concerts are positioned to be successful.
“The two shows complement each other,” he said. “Now if it were The Rolling Stones and U2, those two ... would definitely compete.”
A Cheap Trick handler, whom Kaye called before booking the show, told Kaye the Rundgren show “wouldn’t affect them,” Kaye said. A Cheap Trick spokeswoman declined to comment.
Mike Dunn, chairman of the Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority that oversees the BMO Center and Davis Park and promotes downtown entertainment, deferred comment to Kaye. Dunn also is the Chicago Rockford International Airport’s director of governmental affairs and economic development. Those who buy tickets to the Cheap Trick June 1 concert get in free to the airport’s AirFest June 2 or 3.
Kaye said the timing of the Rundgren and Cheap Trick shows presented “two extra-unique opportunities. I don’t think either of us could have passed (them up).”
Besides, Kaye said, staging both shows after the afternoon’s City Market will create a positive combined effect.
“Can you imagine what downtown — with City Market, Rundgren, Cheap Trick — will be, with 9,000 (people) descending on downtown Rockford?” he said.
Cooperation is key
Still, Don Kronberg, president and owner of NiteLite Promotions in Palatine who has booked shows at the Coronado and the former MetroCentre, said the main audience for both the Rundgren and Cheap Trick shows likely would be the same: 40- to 60-year-olds.
“If you make people pick and choose, it mostly likely will be Todd” who will lose out, especially considering Cheap Trick’s hometown is Rockford, he said.
Michael Goldberg, executive director of the Coronado, agreed.
“What you have is two shows being square up against each other; two shows trying to sell to exactly the same market,” he said. “And the fact is that it was well-known” about the dates for Rundgren’s shows before Cheap Trick was scheduled to perform at the BMO Center, he said.
Ford, the Rundgren show promoter, said that as of Thursday, 540 tickets had been sold for Rundgren’s June 1 show and 742 for June 2. Ticketholders are coming from 30 U.S. states and six countries, he said. Capacity at the Coronado is about 2,300.
The number of tickets sold as of Thursday for Cheap Trick was about 1,700. Kaye said a full house for the concert at the BMO Center would be between 6,000 and 7,000 people.
Jim Snyder of Rockford has traveled to see Rundgren’s shows for years and bought 44 tickets for both of his shows at the Coronado for friends and family. He said the Rundgren and Cheap Trick shows on the same night would hurt sales for the Rundgren show and likely Cheap Trick, too.
“Cross-promotion is the only way that they can make it work,” he said.
Kaye said the BMO Center’s box office television screens are promoting Rundgren’s shows at the Coronado. And the BMO Center will send email blasts about the Rundgren shows.
Michael Schirger, an attorney and president of the Coronado Performing Arts Center board, said cooperation is key. “At this point, we had all better get busy promoting these shows and working together to make sure this is a night Rockford won’t forget,” he said.
Reach staff writer Georgette Braun at or 815-987-1331.


Anonymous said...

Simply stated, the conflict is not so dramatic. No offence to the "hometown boys" but Cheap Trick are consistant. Todd Rundgren is consistantly all over the map & beyond. The performances with the RSO are exciting with the sense of artisticexpression,social awareness,soul searching & goofball entertainment.Those who know Rundgren's work have no conflict in choosing. The farthest reaching artist has the most dedicated audience for good reason.
Both should enjoy their healthy responce....RR

Anonymous said...

The Bands will not "Battle".
I was just reading hoe the Beatles & Rolling Stones knew better than to release singles at the same time
This is more like The Beatles(Todd)
& The Rasberries (Cheap Trick). Too bad more folks had temperments & ears geared towards the later.
Creatively there's no comparison.
Some choose a nice picnic others delight in a refined feast......