Christian van hemert

Can KEXP help the Kraken make arena music cool?

Whether it’s the “SportsCenter” presenters citing the words of Migos or the country stars sounding the soundtrack of prime-time NFL shows, music and sport will forever be companions of music. pop culture. It’s a natural crossover to use music to accentuate the emotional arc and myriad of stories in high-performance games played (and watched) with intensity.

But for fans in the stands, there’s some predictability whenever the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” rumbles through the speakers or the “Welcome to the Jungle” intro lets us know something is wrong. important is about to happen. Often times, the playbook for pumping up a sports crowd is heavy with big injections of centrist arena rock and EDM. It’s not usually something that dazzles music geeks.

“I’m a huge sportsman,” says confirmed music geek John Richards, morning host and programming director for KEXP, “and sometimes when I’m around I’m stumped as to why I’m listening to this. as I listen to as I look around the crowd It seems it doesn’t match who is in the audience.

Perhaps the Sounders season pass holder and his KEXP cohorts could help change that when the Kraken hits the ice at Climate Pledge Arena. Heading into its inaugural season, the Kraken took to Seattle Radio Station to check out its game-day music lineup, including in-game song selections.

It’s a smart move for the incoming franchise to use the wealth of musical knowledge of its Seattle Center neighbor as it seeks to create a game day experience that resonates with the hometown crowd.

“Music is the pulse and heartbeat of much of the joy in our lives, whether it’s a wedding, a movie or a concert or our child’s flute solo. in third year, ”said Jonny Greco, senior vice president of live entertainment at the Kraken. and presentation of the game. “And there are few places on this planet where music is more important than Seattle.”

To be clear, don’t expect three KEXP independent pricing periods when you show up to the Pledge (should we call it “the Pledge”?) For Saturday’s home opener. After all, “it wouldn’t be fair to our fans if we only had one vision or one goal,” Greco says. And if some of those arena rockers and EDM blasts get people cheering, you might just hear them.

Representatives of the Kraken and KEXP have met monthly for the past year, and the station offered the team a billion songs to consider for the 200 to 250 cuts heard throughout. every game, often specific at certain times: a bad call, a power play or the all-important goal song. (Per Greco, Nirvana’s “Lithium” is one of the early favorites, although nothing is etched in the Stanley Cup silver.)

“If there’s a fight, we’ve got way too many songs,” says Richards.

KEXP rolled out the call for its dozens of DJs, though a smaller team of around a half-dozen – including local show host Eva Walker and Supreme La Rock, who was once a DJ for the Seahawks. – took the lead. Local music will definitely be a component, and KEXP’s insight has helped “shed light on so much that we didn’t know about this area,” Greco says, whether it’s attracting them to newcomers or learning about it. Seattle heavyweight choice deep cuts.

“Seattle has a rich history, and you know it,” Greco says. “This goes back to long before [Jimi] Hendrix and stuff like that, but obviously it’s not all grunge. It’s a great chapter in this book, but there is so much here.

It is also a question of highlighting a KEXP “discovery” artist for each game and of highlighting the music of the countries of origin of players born abroad. The Kraken-KEXP partnership is expected to continue beyond this first season, and KEXP will help identify potential national anthem singers, “intermission performers or house band material.” said Greco.

How exactly live music is incorporated before, during or after games is a work in progress. But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this music-sport alliance is a new outdoor stage being built between KEXP and Climate Pledge Arena, linked to a redeveloped courtyard behind KEXP’s Gathering Space, which already has its own indoor stage. . It’s unclear when exactly it will be up and running, but the jointly funded stage, connected to the KEXP building and “just steps” from the arena, Richards says, could allow them to host events like post-concert concerts. match.

“You couldn’t have written it better when we moved into [Seattle Center]Richards says. “We didn’t know that a hockey team was going or that we would have a chance to have an outdoor site in addition to the indoor site. “

While KEXP brings a lot of local credibility, Greco has his own pedigree. Ahead of a pandemic-interrupted “cup of coffee” at Madison Square Garden, the former WWE helped the Las Vegas Golden Knights build their in-game theatrical production that captured the attention of the league. (Vegas loves a show, right?) Kraken fans got a glimpse of the dazzling glare during the team’s loss to the Golden Knights last week.

In some ways, its mission with the Kraken will be similar to that of the Golden Knights, the second-most recent NHL team: to help shape the traditions and experiences of a startup franchise in a city without an established hockey culture.

“We’ve learned to honor the city, but don’t stereotype the city either,” Greco says of his time on the Strip. “What ‘Monday Night Football’ does when it comes to any city, in Vegas they’ll play Elvis and maybe Sinatra, and you’ll show off the strip, you’ll show off the casinos and showgirls. … When they come to Seattle, it’s coffee and salmon, Space Needle and Nirvana. And yes, these are really important things, but there is more. The Vegas experience definitely taught [me] to dig more. … It’s extremely exciting, but it’s also a great responsibility.

For KEXP, they would just like to bring some sweet local music to the ears of 18,000 hockey fans.

“Success is when we sit there and someone like the Naked Giants suddenly comes along or Chong the Nomad,” says Richards. “For us, if you can hear that by looking at the Kraken, we’ve done our job.”


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