The fastest-selling show in the Orpheum Theatre’s history hit the stage Friday night for the first of two shows, packing the venue with a sold-out crowd of 1,250.
The act? Not a famous singer. Not a well-known comedian.
It was a radio disc jockey from Nashville who has a loyal following in Wichita – so loyal that Friday’s show sold out just 40 minutes after going on sale on June 8. The Orpheum added a second show, which happens Saturday night, and it sold out just as quickly.
Bobby Bones, whose syndicated morning radio show airs on nearly 90 radio stations across the country, including Wichita’s 102.1 The Bull, is making his annual visit to Wichita this weekend.
He comes every year, said The Bull’s program director Brian Jennings, and he always draws big crowds. Last September, he sold out The Cotillion, but this year he indicated he’d like to try out a venue like an old theater. Did Wichita have one of those?
Bones’ stage show, from which he donates proceeds to the Humane Society, is called the Raging Idiots. It’s a musical act of sorts made up of Bones and his show’s digital content editor, Eddie (known just as Eddie). The two sit on stools and play acoustic guitars, performing silly songs they’ve made up.
Friday’s show drew a younger crowd of people mostly in their 20s through 40s, and several children also were there. It started with Bones, whose real name is Bobby Estell, warming up the crowd alone. Not that the crowd needed it. People lined up around the block waiting to get in more than half an hour before the doors opened, and most took their seats with cellphone cameras at the ready.
For about 45 minutes, Bones – dressed in jeans, a black button up, red sneakers and his signature thick black glasses – told self-deprecating stories about his life, his well-documented relationship problems, and his past life working at Hobby Lobby, complete with a name tag that read Hobby Lobby Bobby.
He started by thanking the Wichita crowd for its loyalty. For years, his show was based in Austin and also aired on Channel 96.3 in Wichita. In 2013, Bones moved the show to Nashville and changed the format to country music. He fills his show with banter about his life with his sidekicks and interviews with popular and up-and-coming country stars.
The first time he tried his Raging Idiots act out in public was at a Wichita car dealership years ago, he said.
“I am so loyal to you guys,” he said. “I hope you guys know that. It’s been a good run with us here.”
Bones performed several of his comical songs, including one that detailed his commitment phobia, which he freely discusses on his radio show.
A sample of the lyrics:
“The ‘L’ word has never been easy for a guy like me, and I spend a small fortune talking about it in therapy.
“But lately it’s been weighing real deep on this heart of mine, and girl now I”m going to say it out loud for the very first time.
“I love baseball. I love ‘Full House.’ I even love Nickleback, and I love Brussels sprouts. And I love my dog and he loves me. And I love ‘Home Alone’ one and two but why did they make three? I love soup. And I like you.”
Bones took a break while Lindsay Ell, a 26-year-old singer from Canada, performed a short acoustic set, putting her big voice and considerable guitar skills on display.
Then the Raging Idiots were back, and Bones was dressed in shorts, a pink ballcap turned backwards, pink sneakers and polka-dot socks pulled up to his knees.
He sang an ode to Mexican food. He sang about his desire to buy a goat. About the time he dated a girl who was out of his league. He sang “Free Bird.”
And he sang a ridiculous song called “Food Crush” set to the tune of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” about his love of eating. The song was so absurd, he had to stop halfway through because he was laughing too hard.
He blamed the lyric “when I drown myself in salad dressing.”
“It was very professional of me to stop in the middle of a song like that,” he said, still laughing. “It’s never happened before.”