Music News & Reviews

Yee-haws, boos and 'who?' for Paisley

Intrust Bank Arena
Intrust Bank Arena The Wichita Eagle

Intrust Bank Arena officials pitched their opening concert to fans of country music in hopes of a sell-out act.

They may achieve that — though the decision doesn't resonate well with some folks who don't dig country.

Brad Paisley, a Grammy-winning country star who has a history of selling out Midwestern arenas, will play the new arena on Saturday, Jan. 9.

The opening acts are Miranda Lambert and Justin Moore. Tickets go on sale Nov. 14. The promoter hasn't announced ticket prices yet.

The announcement Wednesday drew praise, laughs and puzzled faces.

"I don't know who would be better," Karen Stein said as she walked into the Dillons grocery store at Douglas and Hillside.

Maybe the Rolling Stones, she suggested. She loved the band's 2006 concert here, but figures they're a tough act to land.

Nicole Moore was less charitable toward Paisley.

"That's stupid," she said. "They should have gotten Taylor Swift."

Nathan Smith said he wishes it would have been an R&B artist like the O'Jays.

"I don't even know that cat," he said of Paisley.

But that cat has a pretty strong following.

He sold out a roughly 14,000-seat show at the BOK Center in Tulsa on a Saturday night in January.

His new album, "American Saturday Night," hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts. It sits at 67 on Billboard's overall chart now.

When Paisley played to 5,607 fans at Britt Brown Arena at the Kansas Coliseum on Oct. 23, 2005, his album "Time Well Wasted" ranked 56th on the chart. (The top concert that year, according to Sedgwick County records, was John Mellencamp, who drew 7,197.)

Paisley is nominated for seven Country Music Awards this year, and he's no stranger to country music fans.

"I don't think you'll have an issue selling that place out for his show," said Ryan Jaspers, operations and production manger for River Bend Music Center, an amphitheater in Cincinnati.

Paisley played there June 19 to about 16,000 fans.

"He put on a hell of a show," Jaspers said. "I think it's a great act to open a new venue."

Intrust Bank Arena manager Chris Presson said all kinds of artists were considered and Paisley is "hard to beat."

"It's all about who's on tour, when they're on tour, and that has a big portion to do with any time of the year that you're booking an act," he said.

"We're obviously not a large city, and (Paisley) probably could have gone many different places and made more money."

Although Presson is calling Paisley the debut act, he said there's still a chance other acts could be named for Jan. 7 or 8.

"We're just always looking to push the envelope," he said.

Asked about Paisley, Jesse Howes gave a puzzled look.

"Who's that?" he asked.

A reporter explained. Disappointment ensued.

Howes said he'd like to see an act that transcends genres, such as Bob Dylan or Prince. But Howes said his taste in music isn't mainstream.

"I think it all comes down to filling an arena," he said.

He said he supports the arena, the Q-Line trolleys that give people free rides downtown and anything else that makes Wichita more exciting.

But he was already disappointed by the arena when he learned it had lost a bid for the opening rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

"I feel like we can't get a break," he said.

News of Paisley's concert drew a flurry of mixed reactions on Wednesday.

A sampling:

Seriously wrote: "I love Brad! And Miranda! I'm excited for this! As long as the tickets aren't stupid expensive I'll be there."

dflorez65 wrote: "Everyone should have known it would be a country act. That's what sells here in Cowtown."

glenlang77 wrote: "Whoo hoo, So much for attending the first event at IBA... How about ANYTHING other than country music! Oh well, at least they tried which should be applauded."

been_around_the_block asked: "What about Elvis?"

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