Rock band Kansas' anniversary tour makes a stop at UCF
Published: Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 18:11
The lights are dimmed, and the smell of popcorn and bourbon lingered in the air. The older members in the near-capacity crowd waited impatiently. The audience quieted as the singular chaotic hum of the UCF Symphony Orchestra signaled the start of the concert before the moment they had all been waiting for: the classic rock band Kansas took the stage to an eruption of applause.
"Good evening, and welcome to Kansas," bassist Billy Greer announced as the band started to play.
Kansas, in celebration of their 35th anniversary, continued their Collegiate Symphony Tour at the UCF Arena on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Taking on the name of their home state, the band was started in Topeka, Kan., as a "garage band," breaking out into the music industry with the release of their first album, Kansas, in 1974. According to the band's official website, Kansas has since produced eight gold albums, one platinum live album and a million-selling gold single. Known for playing only their original music, the band continues to show immense popularity, as seen through their inclusion within major video games Guitar Hero II and Rock Band II.
Though the majority of the audience was composed of fans from the ‘70s and ‘80s generations, several UCF students came out to support one of their favorite classic rock bands. Senior Amber Guarente has remained a loyal fan since childhood.
"Kansas is the best band in the world. Every time their song comes on, I tell everybody to be quiet so I can hear it," the film major said. "It's going to kick ass like nothing else. These are once-in-a-lifetime events. It's not very often that you can see a band of such caliber."
Still others came out to the event, tempted by the introduction of more classical music through the UCF Symphony Orchestra's performance, as well as for the impressive skill of violinist David Ragsdale. Ragsdale, known for his mastery of the violin and fiddle, performed an improvised showdown with UCF student Katie McCoy for one of the band's songs, a performance the crowd saw fit to award with a standing ovation.
McCoy, currently studying for her Master of Arts for violin performance, described the side-by-side performance with the legendary rock star as unforgettable.
"The experience itself was exhilarating, and that feeling did not leave me. Actually every time I think about it now, that feeling is still right there. I could have done that all night long," McCoy said. "Amazing: people can say that about a loaf of bread. To be on stage with him, I was incredibly honored. It's probably the best day of my life, and I will definitely never forget any part of it."
Director of the Symphony Orchestra, Michael Garasi, believed the performance was a great experience for both students on stage and in the audience.
"All the students were really, really excited," Garasi said. "It was wonderful exposure for our students to play for the band, and also, I think for Kansas to expose their music to the young students at UCF. I believe there were many of our students who had never been to a rock concert before."
The band performed many of their greatest hits, including "Fight Fire with Fire," "Hold On," "Point of Know Return," as well as their gold single, "Dust in the Wind." Kansas also ended the night to a standing ovation with "Carry on Wayward Son," the band's second most popular single to date.
Kay Dusich, a retired teacher from Adventure Elementary School, came for her husband's love of rock and roll and her love of the symphony.
"My husband was a great fan of Kansas, and he just saw the advertisement in the paper. We went online and got the tickets, one of those real quick things," Dusich said. "I was mainly interested because there's going to be an orchestra in it, and that kind of got me interested in wanting to come. I'm not real crazy about rock ‘n roll, real loud stuff."
Senior Logan Kriete, a radio-television major, commented on the interesting mix of different genres.
"I like Kansas, I like classic rock — it's my favorite genre," Kriete said. "When I heard they were coming to the UCF Arena and also playing with the UCF orchestra, I thought it would be a cool combination to see them, a classic rock band, playing with the UCF orchestra."
As the heads bobbed and the feet tapped along to the music, a portion of the funds generated from the night's performance were donated to the UCF Department of Music for the creation of general student scholarships for the music program. A portion of all Kansas merchandise sold at the show, including t-shirts, concert CDs and DVDs, would also be donated to the program. As an added bonus for audience members, Kansas autographed any merchandise purchased after the show.