AWOLNATION bailed on one of its Omaha concerts this week at the last minute.
Well, they did play at Sokol Auditorium on Monday night to a sold out, packed room. (I wasn’t there as I was reviewing the Bon Jovi show, but tweets and Facebook posts from fans seem to agree that it was amazing.)
But the electronic rock band was also scheduled to play an acoustic concert for Omaha’s Q98.5 radio station.
Scheduled for Sunday evening at the Leinenkugel beer-sponsored Leine Lounge, the band canceled at the last minute, apparently because a Leinenkugel banner was draped across the stage.
Fans were upset. The radio station was less than happy.
“I’m here to deliver some disappointing news. I appreciate you all coming out here today. We’ve got the band in-house and they’ve decided they’re not going to play here today,” said Jeff Lynn, program director at the station. “It was their decision and they made it because of the banner behind the stage.”
“(Leinenkugel is) the reason we can afford to do this kind of stuff,” said Matt Sparker, a DJ at the station. “We had to take down the Leinenkugel poster for them to play. They don’t want to play in front of a sponsored logo.”
Unfortunately, the radio station said they wouldn’t take down the banner. And the band wouldn’t play in front of it.
So, that band is a pile of jerks, huh?
Well, yes and no.
Should they have just sucked it up and played? Yeah, probably.
Should a band have to play under a banner it didn’t know was going to be there? Again, probably not.
It’s rather common that bands don’t want to play under signs endorsing products and companies. It’s one of the reasons that bands want a lot more money to play at festivals where there’s always a lot of sponsors.
Bands like to pick and choose who they identify with the same way you and I choose the T-shirts we wear. You wouldn’t wear a Bud Light T-shirt if you were a recovering alcoholic, would you?
It seems to me, though I couldn’t confirm, that the band didn’t know about the sponsorship in advance, which is a little detail that could easily be missed. If they had known, maybe it would have been a little easier.
The band didn’t respond to a request for comment through their publicist, but they did tweet, “To everyone who came out to see our radio performance, we are very sorry for canceling. To all the winners, we will do our very best to make it up to you all tomorrow. We are all AWOLNATION.”
It wasn’t all bad news: The band invited fans to its soundcheck on Monday, which they made open to the public.
And Melissa Hardersen, who runs the Stir Cove concert series, was at the show and promised to give everyone in attendance a pair of tickets to a Stir Cove show of their choice.
“I felt sorry for the fans, and wanted to turn a bad situation into something positive. It was very much a spur of the moment thing,” Hardersen told me. “I’ve had to deal with artists and their requests of removing signage and other ridiculous requests on a handful of occasions, such as not serving meat because an artist’s lifestyle choice. Anyway, I know I didn’t have to do it, but wanted the listeners to have a positive experience and I could provide them an opportunity to see live music. The station has been a great partner over the years, and I was happy to help!”