RJD2 turns the tables in Wichita with Crown Uptown’s first concert in four years

02/28/2014 7:37 AM

02/28/2014 7:39 AM

You might not know the name, but you’ve heard the music. His tune “A Beautiful Mine” is the theme for TV’s “Mad Men.” And other songs have been featured in ads from Radio Shack to Wells Fargo.

On Saturday, the tables and chairs will be removed from the Crown Uptown Theatre to make room for the hard-to-define hip-hop act RJD2.

“He’s doing this as a special show for us,” said Kyle Dick, owner of Naymlis Entertainment, which is putting on the show. “It’s kind of exciting that we’re able to do something that’s not really going on anywhere else.”

The Wichita stop is the only Midwest one scheduled so far for the Philadelphia-based DJ Ramble John Krohn, who goes by the alias RJD2. His latest album is “More Is Than Isn’t,” his fifth full-length feature.

It’s been at least four years since a concert has taken place at the Crown Uptown Theatre, said Kelsey Shackelford, event coordinator with the venue.

“It’s an opportunity for us to showcase that we’re more than just a theater,” Shackelford said. “We can have concerts, too. We’re diversifying our portfolio.”

When the Crown Uptown Theatre came under new ownership in 2010, it primarily focused on dinner theater because “we didn’t want to spread ourselves too thin right off the bat,” Shackelford said.

Though Naymlis is not working exclusively with the Crown Uptown, the venue “definitely suits our needs pretty well,” Dick said. Thanks to its tiered floor and highly visible stage, “there really isn’t any other venue that’s that size or that has that aesthetic for a concert.”

While organizers had to work out a few kinks – mostly acoustic concerns – the show should consist of RJD2 performing a few “tricks” on multiple turntables and some visual surprises.

The intention is to make Wichita more accommodating for “midsized acts” – bands that don’t fit the arena bill but are too large for a local bar, Dick said.

“We’re happy to have the ability to pay for an artist where if we don’t get the numbers we want, we at least got some really good exposure and brought something cool to Wichita,” Dick said.

Dick has put together shows for nearly two years at various venues around town. He’s worked in other cities, including Kansas City and San Francisco, but Wichita has proven a challenge in some ways. While people have responded well to the shows, it takes a lot to convince artists that a new market is good when they haven’t heard of other bands playing there, and it takes a lot to get Wichitans to expect and seek out events.

For example, this will be Krohn’s first experience with Wichita, although “it’s possible I was there for a show in the early aughts,” he said. “Things blend together at this point.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the crowd is pretty hype and it’s a fun night,” Krohn said. “Oftentimes the Midwest shows – particularly markets that aren’t ‘marquee names’ – are more fun than bigger cities; kids seem to be more stoked on shows.”

Of Montreal is the next band scheduled to perform at the venue on April 4. If the shows are a success, the Crown Uptown may host multiple shows a month, Shackelford said.

“It’s exciting, because we’ll get a bunch of people in our doors that probably didn’t even realize we were here.”

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