Echo: How did you get started promoting shows in the Quad Cities?
Kyle Peters: Well I started out with outdoor festivals in 2005 down in the District of Rock Island. I started out with an event called Rock the District where we just did a rock band with a four-band bill. It took an urban setting. It started out as a one-day show and developed into a two-day show for a while. That’s pretty much where I started was doing that just to help build the area, the district itself, to help build Daiquiri Factory, the business I built there. I was around a lot of talented people that could help me out and get things going.
E: What show or event are you most proud of in your career as a promoter?
K: It’s kind of twofold for me. The first thing is in 2007 I got lucky and we booked Buck Cherry, right off of “15”, one of their hottest albums they ever had. That kind of – for me – took Rock the District to the next level. That is always going to be there for me. Some of the most unique shows that I’ve ever done though at Rock the District was Chevelle in 2014 and Bush in 2018. Those are ones that from load in a load out the event went off perfectly. The weather was great. The crowd was great. The performers were great. Those are the days that are hard to duplicate every time, but it happens it’s really special and you know you know when you got something really cool going.
E: Are there any shows here at the Rust Belt that you’re excited about?
K: As far as what’s coming through the pipeline, the 3 Doors Down show. It’s the first time they’re playing their first album in its entirety from the beginning and all the hits. That’s a big tour that’s coming through that we’re one of the only independent venues on. I’m definitely looking forward to that one.
E: What are the special qualities of the Rust Belt?
K: It’s an old automobile manufacturing plant from the early 1900s. They made the Moline Knight. There is a lot of stuff here that I don’t think if you built today’s venue, you wouldn’t model something like this because we had to use the space that was already provided, which lends it hand to a really unique feel and some unique custom spots throughout. It is a standing room. We do, do some seating depending on the performer. It’s got a unique feel to it for both the artists and the consumer.
E: Where is the best place to stand in the Rust Belt?
K: Always for me whether I’m indoors or outdoors, at any show, is front of house. With all the talent the tour managers, the sound engineers, light engineers, that’s usually going to be the best spot. Through my experience, it seems like that’s always a good spot to be. Depending on what type of band is, if you want to come to see Sevendust and get your face melted off in the front row you can do that. If we’ve got a cool jam band and want to get up close and personal, it’s great too. It really just depends on your own personal preference but for me personally as a promoter I like to be by front of house. That’s where you’ll find me.
E: Who would you say the Rust Belt is for? What should someone expect when they come into this space?
K: Anybody really. I think if you’re looking to have a really good time along the Mississippi River at a cool unique venue, this is a place for you. For sure. It is standing right now, but like I said we do bring in seats. As far as experience goes from start to finish you know we do offer an array of products in here, not alcoholic and liquor. I think one of the cool things is you can come here and you can find unique cocktails and beverages, which is different than a lot of venues. A lot of major venues have limited types of stuff. We’ve tried to expand that a little bit and give the customer a little more variety when they come here. We have anything from daiquiris from Daiquiri Factory to our mixed drinks and we’ll make signature drinks for the bands and stuff like that. It’s a unique experience. It’s definitely different than some of your larger-scale venues.
E: What is your vision for the next few years?
K: Honestly, just to continue to grow the pipeline of entertainers through here. I want to make sure we diversify the inventory that’s coming in. I think the room does lend its hand as far as performers go to really go anywhere from rock to urban to country to indie. The room does lend its hand to all different genres. The goal would be to continue to diversify the bands that are coming through and appeal to everyone so everybody has an option and the opportunity to come to the Rust Belt and check it out.
E: Why have you decided to make your career here in the Quad Cities?
K: Well, I’ll tell you what, I think for me personally when I first built my original business, The Daiquiri Factory, in Rock Island right on the river. I end up having to do Rock the District and what we noticed, and things that I had been told before, but then as you start to live it, where the Quad Cities is uniquely positioned in between Chicago, Des Moines, St. Louis and Minneapolis. There is a lot of opportunity for bands that are coming by and you can get on that route. That’s definitely an incentive in a secondary market like this to not be off the beaten path. Anything right off the Interstate 80 is always great. That’s lent its hand to the Quad Cities itself as an opportunity for us to pick up some larger shows and smaller shows. Shows of all sizes really to come through. Once we start to figure that out and live that, and actually experience what that’s like to pick up a band that maybe necessarily wouldn’t have stopped and played, it’s pretty cool. With that opportunity, I’m willing to give it a whirl and keep going.
E: Is there anything else you want to say about being in the Quad Cities or being a promoter?
K: You know we do get a lot of support in the Quad Cities for music. Whether it’s local, regional, national, it is all important. I think the community has done a good job with that. I just say just keep supporting the independent venues as much as you can. There’s a limited amount of us that are left. There’s a limited amount of promoters that are independent promoters like myself and my partner that helps me put the shows on. The more support we can get the better off we are. It’s good for the industry. Its balance. You need both. You need independents and the big ones, too. I think everybody on both sides of the river, both indoors and outdoors has all been able to pull and secure some really good talent over the years, at least the last 20 years that I’ve been doing it. I’ve seen some really cool shows that I probably wouldn’t have thought I would have seen come through the Quad Cities. It just shows that the whole business is based on relationships and experience. The music industry is a small world. They all talk. Tour managers talk. They’re people just like us. If you go out of town, you go on vacation somewhere, and you have a really good time at someplace that maybe you thought “It’s not going to be that great.” and go there and you get wild, you remember that! That’s one thing that I think happens in the Quad Cities more times than often. People come back and they’re like “Hey, this is a good spot to stop and bring your band and your fans to.”
For more information about the happenings of the Rust Belt, follow them on their social channels and look for daily updates on their website: rustbeltqc.com