Canadian rockers Three Days Grace perform at Lazer fest in 2011. Adam Gontier, pictured, the band’s former lead singer, will play at Rock Cornstalk Saturday. (Juice file photo)
Rock Cornstalk helps promote local bands
Published on July 23rd, 2013 | by Joe Lawler
You won’t find a schedule for Saturday’s Rock Cornstalk Festival on the event’s website. The hard-rock and metal event isn’t being scheduled like a traditional festival, with local bands early in the day and national headliners in the evening.
Festival organizers Budda Magrudda and Mike Perkins of In the Pit want fans to show up early, because the national acts could go on at any time.
Magrudda said the purpose of the national headliners at Rock Cornstalk is to put local bands in front of a big crowd.
“We love the national acts, but the truth is the reason we put them on the bill was to draw attendance for the locals,” Magrudda said. “We pay them to do a job, playing their popular songs and bringing people to see the local bands. We don’t want people showing up 10 minutes before the big acts go on.”
Those headliners include Adam Gontier, former lead singer of Three Days Grace, Thousand Foot Krutch, (Hed) PE, Smile Empty Soul, Taproot and others. They’ll play on two stages of music with Iowa bands like Blacked Out World, Mars on Fire, Apathy Syndrome, September, Nest of Snakes, Viva Montesa and more. Twenty-two acts are slated to perform.
Magrudda and Perkins have also heard the ongoing discussion about “pay to play” shows, where bands sign on to play a show with national headliners and must sell a certain number of tickets or pay the ticket price of what they didn’t sell. Magrudda said every band playing Rock Cornstalk has a guarantee. Bands were also given 50 tickets to sell, but the band gets to keep any proceeds from those tickets. If they want to give the tickets to fans for free, they can.
“The biggest thing we wanted to do was making sure locals get paid,” Magrudda said. “These bands put a lot of effort into what they do, and even locally a lot of people don’t know who they are.”
Magrudda isn’t entirely sure what to expect from the first Rock Cornstalk, but he’s hoping for attendance of 8,000 for the day. He hopes Rock Cornstalk could become an annual event for Des Moines, and said he could see the concept expanding to bring attention to local bands in other markets.
Rock Cornstalk is only the second event In the Pit has produced. In May, Magrudda and Perkins formed the company to put on NoFest at House of Bricks, featuring four local bands the same night as Lazerfest in Boone. The duo had heard from fans that didn’t want to make the drive north, and ended up with a crowd of more than 150. Later in August they’re planning a free show at the Hull Avenue Tavern. For that show In the Pit is planning to introduce bands from smaller Iowa towns to Des Moines.
When: 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday
Where: Blank Park Zoo Field, off Army Post and Chaffee roads.
Cost: $40 in advance, $50 day of show