Nelly, Kevin Costner, and the Story of a Disgruntled Peoria Crowd
Since Saturday night, there have been numerous (and often false) accounts of what went on the night of Nelly's performance in Peoria. According to Thomas Bruch at the Peoria Journal Star, here's the truth:
Most of the night’s confusion centered on Juvenile, the veteran hip-hop artist. According to Danny Cash, co-owner and president of the Limelight Group that promotes the Bud Light Concert Series, Juvenile’s management team informed the concert promoters earlier Saturday that he had missed his flight from Louisiana to Illinois.
At that juncture, a scramble ensued in an attempt to get Juvenile to the show. Cash said his group purchased him a flight to North Carolina, which would then take him directly to Peoria. However, the initial flight arrived late, causing him to miss the connecting flight to Peoria by a matter of minutes.
Nelly had his own issues getting to central Illinois. His flight out of Las Vegas on Saturday morning was delayed “three or four” times for mechanical issues, according to Cash. Once Nelly got to Chicago, his tour bus hauled down to Peoria, pulling up to the Gateway Building a little after 9:45 p.m. By my watch, he took the stage about an hour later, at 10:47 p.m., with a few of his cohorts.
So the fact is that, unfortunately, the circumstances that led to the show's delays were out of the control of the promoters. In the end, it seemed that the lack of communication between management and attendees caused the anger of the crowd; but even then, it puts management in a difficult situation attempting to balance safety and sanity. In truth, the promoters did a commendable job of handling the unpredictable situation, as did DJ McFly, who took the brunt of the crowd's anger. McFly didn't deserve the slew of hand gestures, boos, and beer bottles flung in his direction. In all honesty, he did a nice job - but the crowd began to catch on to the fact that there was something they hadn't been told, and they (quite clearly) didn't appreciate it.
For the first event of this scale at the Peoria Riverfront, the show went well. Let's balance the pros and cons - a no-show and a late arrival vs. a set by a promising local rapper, management adapting to an unpredictable situation, and a performance by an artist who's sold nearly 22,000,000 albums in the U.S. Maybe it's just me, but I think there are more positives than negatives here.
On top of all that, the fact that Limelight was able to book an artist of Nelly's status should be celebrated. Their Bud Light Concert Series might be the best thing that's happened to Peoria entertainment in the last decade, other than the opening of Limelight itself. Albeit a slightly underwhelming performance, Nelly played Peoria. He's world-famous, far-reaching, and a breath of fresh air in contrast to the over-saturated market of country and cover bands that normally grace the Peoria area.
Yes, maybe the night didn't go exactly as planned, but when do concerts ever go on without a hitch? This caliber of event is new to the Peoria Riverfront, and it seems that local concertgoers have been waiting so long for shows like this to come that when everything didn't go perfectly, all hell broke loose (by word of mouth and social media). These shows could be incredible for the area, and I commend Limelight and the Riverfront Association for making them happen.
This is what we mean at Take the Pulse when we say "the road to revival." Peoria, and all of the Heart of Illinois for that matter, has what it takes to get back on the map when it comes to live music. The region has venues of all sizes, an up-and-coming arts and culture scene, and increasing demographics to support both of the above. Plus, I would think the economic boost of shows that bring in 10,000 people would outweigh the occasional noise complaint.
My message for the Heart of Illinois is this: hang in there. Be patient. Bigger things are on the horizon for this region. And with a shout out to Kevin Costner, remember one thing: we built it, so they will come.
Click here to check out our Nelly Trivia video on YouTube to see how well Heart of Illinoisans know the world-famous rap artist, and be sure to follow us on social media @takethepulse.