Sacramento doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice for a couple of Los Angeles music industry pros to set up a massive multi-day music festival. But that’s exactly what Danny Wimmer and Danny Hayes are doing with Aftershock Music Festival.
Hayes and Wimmer run Danny Wimmer Presents, a production company organizing big music festivals in smaller, “underserved” markets, like Aftershock taking place in Discovery Park Saturday and Sunday.
They started Aftershock as a one-day festival in 2012. They’ve several developed similar hard-rock festivals in other markets, like the Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, Ohio. When looking for a city to put a festival, Hayes said they looked for a place without a lot of large festivals and a good population density.
When they started considering Sacramento, Hayes said the city had a reputation of not being able to sell tickets. “If you put enough [bands] together you get strength in numbers and reinvigorate the market,” Hayes said.
So they started with one day and found the city to be welcoming and the market ripe for this type of rock music festival.
“When a city welcomes us, it helps us take a risk,” Hayes said about working with the city to put on the festival.
Mike Testa, senior vice president at the Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Wimmer is one of the best promoters he’s ever worked with, and he’s worked with plenty.
“[Wimmer] tries to invest in Sacramento because he wants to be here long term,” explained Testa.
Hayes said everything they made off last year’s festival went right back into growing the festival. That means, bigger names, more advertising, and more money spent on local security, caterers and hotels.
Last year Aftershock had a 15,000 person per day capacity and they sold out. This year they expanded the capacity to 19,000 people per day, and Hayes said they’re nearing that number of ticket sales.
Testa said last year they saw 2,100 hotels rooms booked because of the festival, which is more than he sees with most conventions.
“If I could bring a 2,100 hotel room convention into town every weekend I’d be a pretty popular guy with the hotels,” said Testa.
But it’s not just the money, said Testa, it’s also putting the city on the map and attracting visitors from all over the region and the world – and having the largest hard-rock festival in California is a nice bragging right.
“There’s great economic impact,” Testa said. “Part of what we want to do is to make Sacramento an attractive place and a cool place.”
Hayes said they strive to make their festivals destination events, drawing people from all over the region. Hayes said last year they sold tickets as far away as Canada.
“If this is your style of music it’s worth getting on an airplane for,” said Testa.
That’s no coincidence, the festival organizers target out-of-towners.
“Our goal is not to sell all of our tickets in the market,” Hayes explained. “Our average show will do 70 percent of the tickets outside of the host city.”
This year the line-up features a mix of hard rock, metal, punk and alternative. Alt-rock bands like Weezer and The Offspring will perform on the same stages as harder acts like Rob Zombie and Godsmack.
Hayes said they try not to have the same kind of lineup year after year, and by throwing in a band like Weezer, who appeals to a different crowd.
“As the festival grows you want to continue to add something fresh and exciting and something unexpected,” Hayes said. “You can’t continue to have the same bands year after year.”
Hayes said he hopes to continue to grow the festival, moving to a three day fest next year if the city permits.