Cary’s Koka Booth boosts volume limit

Cary venue’s earnings, attendance up

akenney@newsobserver.comNovember 22, 2012 

— The town will again break the sound barrier for some performers at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre, which has found louder shows a profitable complement to its symphonic roots.

Three shows will be allowed to hit the new 98-decibel limit, which is three decibels higher than the venue’s standard. The Cary Town Council last raised the limit in 2010, also by three decibels, which is the equivalent of a 120 percent volume increase.

Pop and rock acts have long complained that the shelled-in outdoor stage has been too quiet for audiences, in years past driving bands like Paramore and Stone Temple Pilots to Raleigh instead. On the other hand, volume levels have drawn 10 complaints from five nearby residents this year.

The theater’s management hopes that cranking the volume again will help book acts and sell tickets, according to a report.

SMG, the company hired to run the place, and its promoters believe the pumped-up volume “will attract more of the rock and younger demographic artists to play the Amphitheatre. These types of artists typically attract higher attendance figures and greater revenue streams for the venue,” stated the annual budget released recently.

Koka Booth Amphitheatre will have hosted about 74 events in 2012, with a projected combined audience of about 120,000.

About half the theater’s operating days this year were “community events” or festivals, while 19 counted as “national acts.” In all, the management claims attendance will increase 16 percent compared to last year.

Old Crow Medicine Show has been the most popular of the year, followed closely by Furthur and Prairie Home Companion, each with between 4,000 and 5,000 in attendance.

The venue, now in its 11th year, continues to run at a six-figure loss, but this year’s projected deficit of $127,000 should be about 37 percent smaller than last year’s shortfall, according to the management’s projection.

Booking shows to the venue is getting more difficult as Raleigh Amphitheater, the Durham Performing Arts Center and others try to attract the same pool of artists, according to the management. The competition has driven “fees up and venues are being compared on capacities, fan experience and elements such as sound level requirements,” according to SMG.

Kenney: 919-460-2608 or

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