Originally Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2012, 6:23 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 27, 2012, 6:33 pm

Aldean, show choirs top 2012 Q-C concerts

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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com

Photo: John Greenwood
Jason Aldean and band performed at the iWireless Center May 11, 2012, blowing off the cobwebs out of the rafters with a blend of high-energy country from the Georgia born Southerner. Earlier this year, Aldean won the Academy of Country Music vocal event of the year and single record of the year with the song ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay,’ a duet with Kelly Clarkson. He was the Moline arena's top selling act this year.
Photo: Todd Welvaert
Brad Paisley, one of country music's brightest stars, rocks a sold-out crowd of 10,500 fans at the i wireless Center in Moline on Friday, Feb. 24, 2012. The 39-year-old superstar kept the crowd on its feet for nearly the entire night.
Photo: Paul Colletti
Singer Zac Brown leads his band as they perform at the iWireless Center in Moline on Friday, Aug. 3, 2012.
Photo: John Greenwood
After gaining fame as an American Idol winner in 2005, country music sensation Carrie Underwood and her band delighted a sold-out i wireless Center Nov. 16, 2012, with her high-energy Blown Away tour.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Davenport West High School freshman Sara Neavor, center, sings and dances alongside the other members of the performance group 'This Just In' during the annual Show Choir Show-Off event at the Adler Theatre in Davenport on Monday March 5, 2012. High School students from Davenport West, Central and North High Schools showcased their choreographed songs to a vocal audience of classmates and parents who packed the large venue nearly to capacity.
Photo: Submitted
'Cirque Dreams Holidaze' was presented as part of the Broadway at the Adler series Dec. 2, 2012, at the Adler Theatre, Davenport.

The white-hot popularity of country music helped Moline's i wireless Center to a very good year, as Jason Aldean led the pack of artists that packed the arena in 2012.

"We had a really good year -- probably the first time we had six country shows in one year, and all six sold out," Scott Mullen, the venue's executive director, said Thursday. "That's quite a statement for the state of country music."

Mr. Mullen was not surprised how well Mr. Aldean did (selling out before 10,815 fans in May), given how popular the 35-year-old star is. "He'son fire right now in country music. Any of those top six acts could have outdrawn the other," he said.

"Country music is so hot nationwide," Mr. Mullen said. "Look at 'American Idol.' Look at just how country music dominates in places where pop and rock used to dominate.

"Pop and rock are becoming obsolete," he said. "Country has taken over pop and rock fans. They're not just singing about their truck breaking down. It's a full-blown rock show.

"I like country music," he said. "It's something my kids can listen to."

Mr. Mullen said the sold-out shows directly affect the i wi's ability to land big-name acts in the future, and he's played up that fact at music conferences in Nashville, he said.

"That really resonated with people -- agents saying what a great market Moline was," he said.

"What surprised me was that mainstream acts that normally would have sold out didn't do well at all," Mr. Mullen noted, citing '70s crooner Barry Manilow whose March show drew just 3,850.

"The trends are starting to change. The perennial acts from the '60s, '70s, and '80s aren't selling anymore," he said.

Ticket affordability also helps propel country acts, Mr. Mullen said. "They always try to keep prices reasonable for the fan, play as many markets as they can."

Six acts topped 10,000 in attendance this year, whereas the arena's top seller for 2011, Kenny Chesney -- also hot country -- sold out with 9,984.

Seating capacity depends on the act's stage configuration and layout, Mr. Mullen said.

The top 10 shows at the i wireless center in 2012 were:

-- Jason Aldean, May 11: 10,815
-- Brad Paisley, Feb. 24: 10,626
-- Lady Antebellum, April 5: 10,406
-- Zac Brown, Aug. 3: 10,327
-- Nickelback, April 10: 10,189
-- Carrie Underwood, Nov. 16: 10,189
-- Eric Church, Oct. 5: 8,488
-- Holiday Pops, Nov. 17: 7,636
-- World Wrestling Entertainment, Sept. 4: 4,381
-- Casting Crowns, March 23: 4,020

For the new year, "Rascal Flatts is going to be big. We have a pretty strong first quarter," Mr. Mullen said. "Maroon 5 sold out its first day."

On the Iowa side of the river, Davenport's Adler Theatre also did well in 2012, but was affected by the presidential election, executive director Rick Palmer said.

"It was a good year; the subscriber base for Broadway is up," he said. "I think it did pretty much as we anticipated.

"It was a lighter season, due to the presidential election," he said . "Anything that requires TV advertising during an election year, there's the issue of costs during the time frame. It's a difficult time to sell tickets."

Mr. Palmer said he wasn't surprised the annual high school show-choir concert packed them in: The all-day tickets were just $10 and the performers draw a built-in crowd of family and friends. Plus, they put on a great show.

Mr. Palmer also is encouraged by the popularity of the Adler's Broadway series and the increasing subscriber base for the Quad City Symphony Orchestra.

The top draws in 2012 for the Adler, where the seating capacity is about 2,300, were:

-- Show Choir Show Off, March 5: 2,135
-- "Cirque Dreams," Dec. 2: 1,756
--Straight No Chaser, April 14: 1,743
--Quad City Symphony Valentine's Day concert, Feb. 11: 1,693
-- "Riverdance," March 6: 1,659
-- "Fiddler on the Roof," Nov. 17: 1,583
--Jackson Browne, Nov. 1: 1,517
--Quad City Symphony War Requiem, March 3: 1,507
-- ComedianMike Epps, Jan. 13: 1,481
-- "The Color Purple," Feb. 7: 1,481.

In the wings

Already scheduled at the i wireless Center for 2013 are:

-- Rascal Flatts and The Band Perry, Jan. 11.
-- World's Toughest Rodeo, Jan. 25-26
-- Shinedown and Three Days Grace, Feb. 1.
-- Journey, Loverboy and Pat Benatar, Feb. 6.
-- Maroon 5, Neon Trees and Owl City, March 1 (sold out).
-- Luke Bryan, March 2.

Upcoming shows at the Adler Theatre include:

-- "A Chorus Line," Jan. 22.
-- "West Side Story," Feb. 18.
-- "The Price is Right Live," Feb. 19.
-- "Scooby-Doo Live," March 2.
-- Gabriel Iglesias, March 7.
-- Bill Cosby, April 27.

For more information, visit www.iwirelesscenter.com and www.adlertheatre.com.