Let’s start this blogging week where the last one ended — in Kane County IL, home of the Cougars.
The team staged a fireworks show following Saturday’s game, which in and of itself is of course nothing new. But what set this particular show apart was that it was accompanied by the music of local alt-country heroes Wilco. Cougars director of public relations Shawn Touney, who estimates that he’s seen over 200 fireworks shows during his time with the team, writes that Saturday’s show was “real, authentic Americana at its finest.”
It’s easy to say “Who cares? Fireworks are fireworks,” but that’s missing the point. The Wilco-themed show generated local and national press (yes, I just linked to myself), and the band promoted it to their 400,000+ fans on Facebook. Wilco also sent over shirts and tote bags to be distributed at the ballpark. Writes Touney: “[W]e asked fans walking by our Customer Service Booth if they had heard of Wilco. Many had not and gave us a quizzical look….The ones who were enthused at the mere mention? They got a free t-shirt and/or reusable grocery bag.”
The endless variety of music available on the internet, and the ease with which it can be obtained, has led to an unprecedentedly fragmented pop landscape. As such, there are many bands (like Wilco) who have built up large followings without quite becoming household names. The Cougars’ success with their Wilco show will hopefully inspire other teams to think beyond “Popular” and “Patriotic” soundtracks, instead recognizing artists that can be easy to overlook in a mainstream sports context. Music fans are nothing if not passionate — why not tap into that passion and establish some “indie cred” in the process? (Just keep it family-friendly, of course. Maryland has a rich doom metal history, but I don’t think we’re going to see a “Salute to Spirit Caravan” night at a Bowie Baysox game anytime soon.)
Perhaps the ultimate in fan-friendly is Myrtle Beach Pelicans pitching coach Brad Holman, who has made a habit in recent years of serenading fans with his signature ballpark tune.
It is called, appropriately enough, “The Loyal Fan”. Here he is in Myrtle Beach last week, backed up by an easily-distracted cadre of players. Great stuff!