Denver Day of Rock brings 25 acts, 100,000 people and no PitbullBy John Wenzel | May 22nd, 2014 | 2 comments
When 100,000 people swarm downtown during this weekendâs free Denver Day of Rock, theyâll see 25 national and local acts playing rock, pop, R&B, folk, indie and country music across five stages.
But they wonât see Pitbull.
âMy friend whoâs an agent says you can get anybody to do anything for you as long as you pay them,â said Christie Isenberg, president and co-founder of Concerts for Kids, the nonprofit that puts on Denver Day of Rock.
âBut unless you have a personal relationship with them, theyâre not going to cut you a break. And weâre very strict about keeping within our budget for entertainment.â
See photos of Denver Day of Rock 2013 below:
Thatâs why Isenbergâs fifth annual multistage festival, which kicks off with a concert from the Congress and the Wallflowers on May 23 and continues across the 16th Street Mall on May 24, didnât reach out to the popular Miami rapper â even though Isenberg wanted to.
Pitbullâs reported asking price of $500,000 was too high for a nonprofit event that prides itself on turning a modest budget of $180,000 from corporate sponsorships into hundreds of thousands more in charity money.
âWe have a lot of agents that are actually contacting us saying, âHey, we have these great bands. Want to work with us?âââ Isenberg said. âAnd theyâre offering up all these names for us to book, so itâs really great to think weâre becoming more well-known. But we donât get a discount (when booking them).â
Denver Day of Rock is the biggest annual fundraiser for Concerts for Kids, which has handed out $3.9 million to dozens of childrenâs health and education organizations since it was founded 10 years ago.
This yearâs main event features acclaimed indie rockers the Hold Steady, Black Joe Lewis, Plain White Tâs, the Whigs, Monophonics, Trampled Underfoot, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers and locals like Calderâs Revolvers, Katey Laurel and Wendy Woo â along with the usual beer gardens, food trucks and vendors.
Isenberg is proud that her Day of Rock, which was born as a one-off event with a tiny budget, has broadened its appeal over the years while maintaining an impressive momentum.
She was hoping for 10,000 people to show up during the first year. The Day of Rock counted 10 times that â and has every year since. Isenberg credits the free, family-friendly nature of the shows and the variety of acts.
âIn some ways free things like this are the best types,â said Craig Finn, singer and guitarist for Brooklyn-based group the Hold Steady. âYou might play for people who wouldnât know you or donât have a take a big risk to come see you.â
As for the kid-friendly nature of these mostly daytime shows, Finn welcomes the change from his bandâs usual late-night gigs at theaters and clubs.
âRock and roll is 60 years old, and itâs not just a young personâs game anymore, so itâs really cool seeing fathers and sons and mothers and daughters out there together.â
The concert is the most visible thing Concerts for Kids does all year. But Isenberg fears people donât understand that the nonprofit keeps humming even after the music stops.
âWeâre in the middle of rebranding ourselves and changing the name, which is important because I think people have been really confused by it,â she said. âWe started as this once-a-year event, but weâre year-round. Now we do a community day with 1,000 volunteers and 50 nonprofits, and last Christmas we wrapped 25,000 gifts for 2,100 kids. Denver Day of Rock helps support that, but itâs not all we do.â