Photos: Kanrocksas 2011 – Friday

Photos & text by Louis Kwok on assignment for

With a line-up that included many of the best and biggest acts of Lollapalooza and other staple summer-time festivals, Kanrocksas made a splash this past weekend in its inaugural event. From buzz bands like the Joy Formidable to circuit staples like the Flaming Lips, Kanrocksas had it all.

During the morning media session before Kanrocksas officially started, the festival organizers projected an overhead map of the Kansas Speedway onto the screen and then proceeded to show how the center section inside the track was able to simultaneously house a football and baseball stadium with ample parking between the two.

It was a good illustration of how big they wanted Kanrocksas to be and from the impressive two-day lineup of acts across four stages to the Ferris wheel, waterslide and other amenities on the grounds, it definitely felt like Kanrocksas was trying to make a big mark on the festival circuit in only its first year. While I’m still in recovery-mode after running around all weekend, here’s a quick breakdown of what stood out.

The Joy Formidable:





Jack's Mannequin:

Ellie Goulding:

Major Lazer:


The Flaming Lips:

Kanrocksas Day 1 Highlights

Despite having a considerably smaller crowd than the preceding D12, the Minneapolis hip-hop collective Doomtree threw one of my favorite sets of the weekend. The large stages and separation from the crowd sometimes swallowed the sound and stage presence of some bands, but Doomtree’s emcees bypassed that by jumping down to the barricades and performing most of their set in the crowd.

Bassnectar was all the rage on the main stage, but during his slot I made my way over to the Critical Mass Tent (housing most of the electronic acts) for Major Lazer, having heard of their amazingly crazy shows. Aided by a hype man and dancer/contortionist, Switch and Diplo threw an infectious electro reggae party. If you ever wanted to see someone do handstand splits on the top of a stack of speakers, this was the show to be at.

I survived my first Flaming Lips show and was pretty sure I was smiling the entire time.

Eminem was easily the biggest draw of Kanrocksas and considering how sparse his concert appearances have been lately, the crowd was packed in tight with cellphones raised high to get a closer look at Slim Shady. Even if you weren’t necessarily a fan, you still left realizing what a momentous occasion this was.