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Don’t Call Them Stoopid: More Than 20 Years In, Slightly Stoopid Is Doing Its Best Business Ever
In a business where agents and managers know the key to longevity is building communities around artists and brands, Slightly Stoopid has – in a very chill way – become one of the biggest touring acts in reggae-rock.
The band has been bumping shoulders with the genre’s movers and shakers since it was signed to the late Brad Nowell of Sublime’s Skunk Records while the members were still in high school. Now, Jon Phillips of Silverback Management boasts the band’s amphitheater tours have become a “rite of passage” within the cannabis lifestyle and reggae-rock loving crowd. The annual production has been hitting many of the same markets repeatedly since 2007 with appearances from Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, Dirty Heads, Stephen Marley, Rebelution, Meat Puppets and many others over the years.
“It’s bigger than it’s ever been,” Phillips told Pollstar. “The Slightly Stoopid summer tour concept has materialized to be a lifestyle rite of passage. It’s grown immensely.”
While the band doesn’t approach the tours with an explicit political agenda, cannabis and its associated lifestyle has become a key branding point. Some titles of the band’s amphitheater tours have included “Summer Haze,” “Blazed And Confused” and “Legalize It.”
The band has been at the forefront of exploring cannabis sponsors and brand activations, with Ghost Vapes being a big sponsor of the 2017 tour.
Yet Miles Doughty, who shares guitar, bass and vocals duties for Slightly Stoopid with Kyle McDonald, said the thrill of performance is what keeps the band on the road.
“We love what we do. Playing music is electrifying, when you hit the stage it’s like flipping a switch, everything turns on. It’s the greatest drug you can take without taking drugs,” Doughty told Pollstar. “It’s really a special thing and something you really can’t take for granted.
“When you’re touring with your friends, seeing the places we’ve been, you’ve watched the fans grow up with the band. … As much as we tour, you’ve seen people for 15-plus years, as they were young kids to being adults and having kids, and all of us have kids. It’s a cool pattern of grassroots, organic buildup for the band and it’s something special.”
Indeed, the “Stoopidheads” continue turning up en-masse for the band’s live shows, particularly its North American summer amphitheatre treks. This year’s run with Pepper and Stick Figure included grosses of $332,723 at Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena At Harveys in Stateline, Nev.; $217,205 at Greek Theatre At UC Berkeley in California; $183,404 at Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, Ore.; and $177,638 at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Texas. All of those shows moved more than 5,000 tickets.
As an example of how loyal the audience is, Slightly Stoopid has played one of those venues, Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena At Harveys, for each of the last four summers, and has increased the amount grossed every year.
“The fan base has been incredible,” Doughty said. “It’s been a gradual rise, there’s never been peaks or valleys, it’s always been a slow incline. We’ve been blessed because the fans have stuck behind the band and given us the push we need. Honestly, I can’t explain it 100 percent. Whatever is going on with our music, it’s a chance for people to release, and just let their worries go, come to the show and have a great time. There’s nothing but positive energy at the show with all the bands we go on tour with. You can see the level of vibes every time we play.”
One practical thing the band has been doing to send out positive vibes is keep prices low. Most reported shows for the 2018 run didn’t exceed a maximum ticket price of $55, and the highest that number reached was $125. Most shows had stubs available for under $30.
In 2017 and 2018 Slightly Stoopid reported $4.7 million grossed on 135,255 tickets, with an average gross of $148,332 per market and average ticket counts of 4,227. Dividing those averages gives an average ticket price of $35.
The band came in at No. 195 on the 2015 Year End Top 200 North American Tours chart, with $4.5 million grossed on an average gross of $93,750 and average tickets of 3,030 for the year, giving an average ticket price of around $31.
That’s a climb from when the band came in at No. 193 on the same chart in 2008, with $3.6 million grossed, and an average ticket price of nearly $26. The band has a U.S. run with Hirie planned into November, after which it will play the Closer To The Sun festival in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico, which runs Nov. 30 through Dec. 4. This year’s getaway lineup includes UB40, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Thievery Corporation, Stick Figure, Pepper, G. Love & Special Sauce, Hirie, and more.
After Mexico, Doughty said the band is looking at South America and perhaps Europe in the spring or fall.
Still, the amphitheaters are a regular part of the band’s business, and emerging bands would do well to learn from the way SS has nourished its connection with its audience and other artists. Doughty said a key component of the tours is finding the right package.
“We have a big pot of bands that we choose from each year,” Doughty said. “You’re gonna be on the road for 10-plus weeks with whoever you are playing with, so we try to make it so that we’re gonna have a good time and the fans are gonna have a good time. It’s all about the package.”
He added that this year’s tour with Pepper and Stick Figure was “insane” and “we were on tour with some of our best friends. … Once the show kicks in you can just see the comradery between the three bands. It’s definitely a blessing.” s