Lazerfest launches Sunday in Boone

by Julia Albaugh Special to the Simpsonian

This year’s LAZERfest will feature all of the usual amenities: people of all ages ready to rock out, loads of beer, and plenty of music. But it will also feature a new location: Boone, Iowa. 

Bands ranging from Shinedown, to P.O.D, to even Sebastian Bach, the lead singer from the ’90s hard rock band Skid Row, will all be a part of this year’s show. However, the spectacle has moved from its original Indianola Balloon Grounds location to the Central Iowa Expo in Boone. Promoters said they think the change is for the better.

The lineup is stacked with national acts including Shinedown with special guests Five Finger Death Punch, Slash with singer Myles Kennedy, Chevelle, Theory of a Deadman, Buckcherry, Volbeat, Sebastian Bach, P.O.D., Adelita’s Way, Black Stone Cherry, and Art of Dying.

Veterans of LAZERfest include Five Finger Death Punch, Buckcherry, Art of Dying, and P.O.D., who headlined the first ever LAZERfest in 2002.

Shinedown just released its newest album, Amaryllis, in March. It debuted No. 4 on the Billboard 200. It is touring with Adelita’s Way, New Medicine, and the Art of Dying.

Five Finger Death Punch also is on tour with Soulfly, promoting the album it released in October of 2011 called American Capitalist. Its album was positioned at No. 3 on the Billboard top 200.

Andy Hall, Lazer Music Director and DJ, said he is most looking forward to seeing Slash with Myles Kennedy and Volbeat.  Slash was recently inducted into the hall of fame with his band Guns and Roses. His new album will be released after LAZERfest.

For many years LAZERfest has been hosted at the Indianola Balloon Grounds. After months of looking at venues and new locations the final decision to move the festival to Boone was made by the promoter out of Kansas City. 

Rich Ramos the site and production manager of LAZERfest, said themove should be good overall.

“There are many pros and cons to the new site,“ Ramos said. “Parking was a huge challenge (in Indianola).”

The new site in Boone can accommodate the growing crowds that LAZERfest has seen in the past years with its improved two-stage system, promoters said. 2010 set a record with 25,000 in attendance, and in 2011 seeing nearly 22,000 spectators. Promoters said they are expecting an even bigger attendance this year due to better facilities in Boone.

The new location is much flatter and can handle the parking that the Balloon Grounds could not, Hall said.

“The grounds have excellent sight lines from anywhere,” Hall said.

In the past two years the show has experienced far from perfect weather conditions. Last year’s LAZERfest saw two straight days of rain before the shows even began. When the concert finally arrived, the venue was a mud pit. This new site is also prepared for rain and comes with a proper drainage system.

“I can’t speak for Indianola, but I can tell you that the Central Iowa Expo is very happy to have us,” Hall said.

Ramos said no matter where the concert is held, some people still won’t be happy.

“There will always be drama no matter where we have it,” Ramos said.

Tickets for this year’s May 13 show are $50 and are available through Ticketmaster and at the gate.