Life

In The Danger Zone: A Front-Row Account Of Kenny Loggins’ Kickstarter-Funded Living Room Concert

Sept. 13, 2015 is a date Erick Sanchez will remember for the rest of his life. It was the payoff for more than a year of hard work aimed at making a dream come true. That dream? Getting Kenny Loggins to play in his living room, made possible by Kickstarter.

“This morning, I got on a flight to Denver to work with my one and only client at the small PR firm I’m working to grow. As we were boarding, ‘House at Pooh Corner’ played, and I was smiling from cheek to cheek knowing that we all just heard that in my childhood living room 48 hours prior,” Sanchez told Uproxx in the aftermath of the performance. “It still hasn’t hit me yet, but I’m just honored and humbled to have played a small role in music and internet history… It’ll take me a while to comprehend what took place this past Sunday, but as the dust settles, I hope the music industry as a whole takes note that nothing is more important than putting your fans first.”

We had a front row seat for it all.

It’s fitting that the fine folks at Archer and FX provided a path to attending the event in Sanchez’s living room (technically his parents’ living room, because the locale is a bit more spacious). Archer also helped grease the wheels behind the Kickstarter, and was represented well at the crowdfunded show, which featured the first live performance of the outlaw country-fueled cover of “Danger Zone” with the singing voice of the animated series’ Cherlene, Jessy Lynn Martens.

It was obvious everywhere – from the fancy eats provided by some of D.C.’s most infamous eateries to the free booze – that the night was more than it originally set out to be. As soon as you entered the door, you were hit with a waiver to be included in filming for television. The media was in full force, from a lowly blogger like me to a reporter from Newsweek. Even the local news all-stars were prepping segments for the morning broadcast.

But it was the unexpected that made the night interesting. For instance, I didn’t expect to almost plow into Kenny Loggins himself while peeking around the balcony area upstairs. For a tight moment, I almost knocked Mr. Footloose over a balcony; a crowdfunded performance from the back of an ambulance sounds interesting as hell, but I can’t say all of the backers involved would’ve enjoyed it as much.

The other unexpected moment came when I found out where I would be sitting… front row, right in front of Loggins’ Blue Sky Riders band and, of course, the man himself. It was… interesting, an eye-opening, entertaining look at top-notch musicians having a good time performing in front of an audience that was pumped to be there. When chatting with Blue Sky Riders after the show, the amount of energy in the room was mentioned often, with band member Gary Burr noting that it was easy to feed off the audience while playing. It aided in their perception that this performance was something special, with Burr calling the entire experience, from Kickstarter to stage, “another horizon to head for” within a long career.

Sitting up front also meant that you were also part of the show, whether it meant handing instruments to Loggins, taping down lyric sheets, or opening bottles of water for the band. I myself got drafted into helping to record audio for the show, ensuring that levels were kept in check while helping the sound man change batteries in the recorder. Sanchez’s parents — his father, in particular — were all over throughout the night, opening and closing windows, cleaning up messes, and just generally helping out.

Knowing now what went into this show, the passion behind this project, and the number of hands it took to make it happen — it’s all simply amazing. Sanchez’s background in public relations certainly played a part in pulling it off, but looking back, he is grateful to those who gave their time:

“I didn’t know anything about crowdfunding, but thanks to my friends with small businesses, I was able to offer a larger experience than even I had expected – one that was real, filled with energy, and emotional for so many reasons,” he said. “On Sunday, my only goal was to make sure that everyone either at the show physically or watching on live stream could end their experience by saying they saw something special, and I truly hope they did. I may have started this campaign, and I credit my education in public relations in helping me promote it, but it was really about the 237 people who invested in something that, at the time, had no confirmed details.”

In addition to those in attendance, Blue Sky Riders broadcasted the show to fans on StageIt, and thousands peeked in via Periscope. “The Internet gives us a chance to shake 11,000 hands,” Burr said.

Throughout it all, a relationship really formed between Sanchez and the band. The investors helped make it all a reality, but Sanchez provided the spark for the event, and the band helped to keep the fire burning. Loggins remembered his first thought upon hearing about the Kickstarter: “I love it.” And from there, their respective campaigns created a goulash of crowdfunding joy.

As an outsider myself, it was interesting to see that spirit of teamwork. When you become fairly cynical in life, you find surprise in the events that contradict that. Confronted with songs with names like “Dream,” and hearing the stories behind some of the bigger moments of each songwriter’s career, it was hard not to be overwhelmed with positivity. A standout moment was Blue Sky Rider Georgia Middleman recounting the odyssey of her song “I’m In,” from its small success with Radney Foster and The Kinleys, to its mega success with Keith Urban – all thanks to Nicole Kidman, apparently. The song’s success not only allowed Middleman to buy a new car, but the story highlighted the struggle behind the music.

It seems silly on paper to talk about struggle in relation to a Kickstarter to get Kenny Loggins to play in a living room, but it’s there. And it was echoed in another famous Kickstarter revolving around potato salad by Zack “Danger” Brown, who was in attendance and had a fun relationship with Sanchez ahead of this event.

Brown claims to have helped urge Sanchez to move forward with his campaign, especially after his received so much attention and ended up helping out a good cause in the end — Brown’s Kickstarter claimed backers “contributed $18,000 directly” to a fund set up at The Columbus Foundation. Sanchez was even at Brown’s event in Columbus, Ohio, opening a channel for Brown to show up in Oakton for the big night with Kenny Loggins. The feeling I got from both was that Kickstarter can be more than just silly ideas that get attention, with both campaigns seemingly doing good in different ways by their conclusion.

In the end, it was quite the event to witness. A wild idea that started in the mind of a fan — inspired by his childhood memories and a comedy on FX — that turned into a media event that broke ground for a new way to perform music. In reflection, Sanchez said he was proud of what happened in his living room, and noted that he hoped the experience is a positive move for himself and crowdfunding in general:

“My goal is to really keep working to grow my firm and offer advice to the bold and hungry looking to make their dreams a reality,” he said. “I will say that crowdfunding is certainly no easy task, and there have been so many horror stories in terms of product fulfillment, but if you’re willing to hustle and be ready to deliver, then you end up with a Grammy award-winning recording artist and his band in your living room.”

It could’ve easily been a disaster in more ways than one. On my personal end, it was a surreal experience, particularly as the crowd was singing along with classic songs throughout the night. It’s hard to capture in words or on film, but I did my best. Too many little details probably slipped by and too many big details took me completely by surprise. The one thing I do know is that I entered the “Danger Zone” and survived. I have the proof.

×