Coors Amphitheatre, owned by Live Nation, will soon lose its name. Effective March 1, the Coors Brewing Company will end its connection with the area’s largest outdoor venue (10,000 reserved seats and a capacity for an additional 10,000 in open seating).
One concert insider says the new name would probably include “Live Nation.” A beer industry executive says he heard that the new venue would include the “Sleep Train” name; the mattress company has secured the naming rights at two other Live Nation venues in California — Sleep Train Amphitheatre, near Sacramento, and Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord.
The Chula Vista venue has been known as Coors Amphitheatre since it opened in 1998. A source says the Coors Brewing Company paid more than $500,000 annually for naming rights and to allow Coors to sell its products exclusively.
“Coors must not see the value anymore,” says one insider. “They must have decided that what they pay outweighs the benefit in terms of their exposure.”
The move confounds some, considering the venue reported a dramatic increase in box-office sales last year: Pollstar magazine pegged Coors as the 16th busiest amphitheatre, drawing almost 250,000 paid guests. The previous year, the magazine reported that in 2006 Coors was the 41st biggest amphitheatre in the U.S., selling more than 160,000 tickets.
“I don’t know if those figures are correct,” says one insider. “Pollstar merely reports the figures that are given to them by each venue. I’m sure that number included comp tickets [that were not paid for].”
Neither Coors nor Live Nation released press releases. Live Nation spokesman Greg Terlizzi did not respond to a request for comment; neither did Coors Amphitheatre general manager Thierry Gray.
Jenny Volanakis, a spokesperson for Coors, says, “It was a good partnership, but we are just allocating our resources elsewhere.” She says the company will continue to underwrite the naming rights for Coors Field in Denver.
“The numbers have gone down dramatically,” says one insider about corporate sponsorship of venues. “It was different when Coors opened ten years ago. Those were the go-go years for outdoor venues like this; money was flowing.”
Another person speculated that the opening of AEG’s 13,000-seat outdoor venue near Qualcomm may have lowered the perceived future potential of Coors Amphitheatre.
— Ken Leighton
It’s About the Ratings, Too “Morning drive” is the most important time period for radio stations. Two morning shows — one with no music and one that declares to be “about the music” — are reacting differently as they face a downturn in ratings.
As the program director of FM94/9, Garett Michaels installed himself as morning DJ three years ago. His direct competition — Chris Cantore of 91X — was fired in December after 11 years. According to recent Arbitron rankings in the 18–34 demographic, Michaels’s show didn’t place among the top ten English-speaking stations; Cantore’s final numbers placed his show at number five.
Although FM94/9 promotes itself as “about the music,” Michaels recently added Tommy Hough to be his morning sidekick and newsman.
“We still play ten songs an hour,” says Michaels. “We had news before Tommy, but before it was provided by Metro Traffic. I don’t think that Metro provided the caliber of [news delivery] that our listeners deserve. Tommy has a journalism background.” Michaels says it’s undecided whether Hough will remain on the morning show permanently.
All-talk shows tend to do better than music shows on morning radio. Insiders say the namesakes of the all-talk Jeff and Jer Show on Star 94.1 get paid well over $1 million each for regularly placing in the top two among morning shows for those aged 25–54.
Jeff and Jer were enticed to move from 100.7 FM to work at Star 94.1 three years ago. They were replaced at 100.7 by the lower-profile (and much less expensive) Monique and the Man morning show (100.7 is now called Jack FM). In the last Arbitron ratings, Monique and the Man beat Jeff and Jer and helped Jack FM move up to second place while Star FM slid from second to seventh among listeners aged 25–54.
“It might just be that Jeff and Jer are too old and too rich for their audience,” says one insider. “They finally may have moved beyond relevance to their core audience.”
Jeff and Jer will soon celebrate their 25th anniversary as a morning team.
— Ken Leighton
Not Conducive to Rocking Out Two months ago, KUSI dropped the live-band segments from its 10 a.m. weekday news show in order to present a straight-news approach. But, reporter and weekend anchor Kristen Cusato makes sure than KUSI still has bands and solo artists perform in studio on weekends.
“I can’t pitch hard-rock bands,” says Cusato. “We are not conducive to rocking out. When we had Arm the Angels on, we had to break it down; they played acoustic, and the drummer sat in a chair with a tambourine. I don’t think they had ever done anything like that before.”
Since Fox Rox ended a year ago, Fox/Channel 6 has live bands on its morning-news show infrequently. KNSD 7/39 presents live bands every Friday during the summer but only occasionally the rest of the year. Cusato doesn’t see her station bringing back a Fox Rox–style show dedicated to local music.
Cusato says most of the local artists who have appeared on KUSI were respectful and happy to be there.
“We had Chad [Butler] and Jon [Foreman] of Switchfoot on. They were honest, real guys.” Most of her guests have been singer-songwriters, such as Eve Selis, Josh D’Amigo, and Barbara Nesbitt.
Only once did a booking backfire.
“When Spell Toronto showed up…they gave the crew a really hard time. They wouldn’t answer questions. While they are on the air, the drummer sat in the background and starts eating a sandwich. I’m sure they thought this was supposed to be funny, but it wasn’t. I don’t know if they thought they could do this because KUSI is some yahoo station, but we’re not.”
Cusato says artists can contact her at [email protected] Good Morning San Diego airs from 6 to 10 a.m. on weekends.
— Ken Leighton
Tick-Tick-Tick… Guitarist Mike Keneally will become a cartoon character in 2008 when he tours with Dethklok, a live-action band based on the Cartoon Network TV show Metalocalypse.
“We don’t dress to resemble the cartoon,” he says, “because we’ve got three projection screens with animation going during the show, similar to the band Gorillaz, showing the cartoon band ‘performing’ the music we’re playing onstage.… The drummer wears headphones so that the live band stays synched to the visuals. The band dresses all in black and stays mostly in the shadows until the last song, when the cartoon band goes away and the live band is flooded with white light.”
Keneally landed the ’toon gig by contacting Metalocalypse creator/songwriter Brendon Small via MySpace.
“[I told] him that my girlfriend and I were big fans of his first show, Home Movies. He wrote back to say he was a huge fan of mine too, having seen me play live in 1996 when he was a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston.…
When the Dethklok album of music from the TV show came out and proved to be such a surprising success, there was a need for a live show and a live band to play it, so he asked me and my bass player, Bryan Beller, if we would join forces with him and legendary metal drummer Gene Hoglan.”
Keneally first came to local prominence fronting the band Drop Control. In 1987, he joined Frank Zappa’s touring band as a “stunt guitarist,” replacing Steve Vai. He went on to play with XTC, Negativland, Robert Fripp, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Solomon Burke, and others.
— Jay Allen Sanford
Trophy Strife Six San Diego–related artists are nominated for Grammy Awards (ceremony to be held on February 10 in Los Angeles): jazz pianist Eldar (Best Contemporary Jazz Album), country-folk duo Buck Howdy & BB (Best Musical Album for Children), As I Lay Dying (Best Metal Performance), singer-songwriter J.J. Cale (Best Contemporary Blues Album), as well as former locals Tom Waits (Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album) and Eddie Vedder (Best Song Written for Motion Picture).
Two national acts up for trophies have a local connection.
Over two days in the summer of 2000, Green Day (Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group) filmed a video for their song “Minority” downtown, on Broadway between Fourth and Sixth Avenue. Though it was a major production, only about two dozen fans showed up to watch the shoot. The clip features the band in a parade, complete with baton twirlers and giant balloons, though these were later digitally enhanced to show the band members’ faces. At the video’s conclusion, the band destroyed their float and allowed fans to take pieces as souvenirs.
Beyoncé Knowles (Record of the Year) has San Diego connections that the artist would likely prefer not to have publicized. In 1999, Destiny’s Child — the group she was in at the time — canceled a San Diego appearance when local “fan” LaToya Langford began to issue death threats against the all-girl group. According to online reports, Langford allegedly demanded a specific sexual favor from Knowles. A restraining order was issued, but the threats continued until Langford’s arrest.
When Knowles performed at Cox Arena last August, several online sources report, local staff were instructed not to look at, speak to, or approach her. From Star Magazine: “The staff were actually told before the show that if Beyoncé was coming down the hall, you were to find an unlocked room and immediately go into it, out of her presence.”
— Bart Mendoza