During her junior year of college at Mount Mercy University in Iowa, Tracie Kalkbrenner had Tammy Koolbeck as a class speaker. Koolbeck was the GM of the new Cedar Rapids Ice Arena and her speech gave Kalkbrenner a career direction.
“I wrote her a thank-you note and I’m not sure how the rest went down exactly, but I started as a marketing intern for her at the Ice Arena a short time after,” Kalkbrenner told Amplify.
Since then, Kalkbrenner has worked in the industry with ticketing, public relations, marketing, management and on the venue side of live events, including at the Chicago Theatre with MSG. Her extensive knowledge of the live event industry has landed her jobs with SMG and as the Live Events Marketing Manager for WWE.
“I’ve always had a desire to know how every part worked,” Kalkbrenner said. “When somebody tells me ‘No,’ I’m that person that will ask ‘Why is it a no?’ I want to know if it is a ‘no’ because you’re being lazy or is it a ‘no’ because of something I don’t understand. I’ve always had this desire to understand all the working parts, so that if there is a problem or an issue, I can be a part of the solution.”
One fateful day at a Lenny Kravitz concert, Kalkbrenner made the decision to go off on her own and start Left On Red Promotions in 2015.
“Just over two years ago I decided to go out on my own and take a contract with Nitro Circus. It wasn’t planned, I had no time to prepare,” Klakbrenner said. “Three days later I was booking media meetings and helping Nitro Circus launch their first outdoor stadium tour in the US.”
As the owner of Left on Red, Kalkbrenner gets to be involved in various aspects of the live event industry that she loves and even gets to put her own creative spin on her branding, just check out her F-bomb business cards.
Amplify caught up with Kalkbrenner to find out about five of the best shows she’s attended.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids
June 30, 2003
This was my first time backstage at a concert. Seeing the show built from nothing to something that took on a whole new meaning when the crowd filed in and the artist took the stage. I had done an internship and worked for the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena while in college. Tammy Koolbeck arranged for me to be able to follow the production manager around so I could experience working a show day. I had helped with some other events in Cedar Rapids like filling all the food requests on artists’ riders before for a big festival in Cedar Rapids, searching high and low for all of these mystical foods (blue corn tortilla chips were not easy to find back then, and what in the world was hummus?) But I had never experienced load in, rigging, sound check, not to mention the coveted catering experience. I just remember I was hooked.
Jay-Z at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut
July 11, 2009
I had just started with WWE so was in Stamford, Connecticut at the corporate office for training. I was set to go back home for the weekend but a few people from the live events team were going to Jay-Z and there was an extra ticket. How could I pass that up?! The full brass band he had behind him is what has this one on the list. It was insane. The front row seats didn’t hurt either.
Def Leppard at The Joint in Las Vegas
March 23, 2013
A Silent Auction package I won at EAMC for two nights at the Hard Rock Hotel and two tickets to a show at The Joint is how I ended up at this show. After wishfully waiting for Lenny Kravitz to announce a date, I finally gave in for Def Leppard.
As an avid Cubs fan, I was headed to Spring Training for vacation and planned a trip with my friend who was going to be out there as well. Girls weekend!! I had never been to Las Vegas before so picked out a nice Camaro with a sunroof from the executive lot (one perk from lots of travel) and off we drove over to Vegas. If you were to ask me who my favorite artists are, Def Leppard wouldn’t be in my top 5, but this show was unforgettable. I think my exact word was EPIC! At first I thought maybe they were lip synching, the vocals were perfect and sounded too good to be true. Needless to say my first trip to Las Vegas was a huge success.
Lenny Kravitz at Ravinia Festival in Chicago
Sept. 3, 2015
I had been trying to see Lenny Kravtiz for years. Every time he would announce a show, I had an event the same day. While covering a WWE tour in Europe, we kept crossing paths. He would be playing in the same city we were just in or he had just played in the city we were arriving in, missing his show by a day or two. I finally was able to sneak a song when he performed at the Super Bowl pre-show I was working in Indianapolis. Then the stars finally aligned and he was coming to Ravinia and I didn’t have a show to work! It was a great show but I didn’t get as close as I would have liked. As we all know, one perk of working in this industry is typically we can buy some good seats even if a show is sold out, but I struck out on this show and had to settle for lawn seats as the secondary market tickets were out of my budget. I love Ravinia, but the lawn seats are not for actually SEEING an artist but to enjoy a nice picnic of wine and cheese, lounge on a blanket and basque in the SOUND of the concert. Out of the blue a guy leaving early offered us his tickets to get down in the stands and get a closer look for the last few songs. He was my Lenny angel.
Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field in Chicago
Aug. 20, 2016
I had a tough time deciding on the last show. Boyz II Men and New Kids on Block at Allstate Arena was a childhood dream come true after my parents refused to let me go the concert with my friend’s older sister, but you just can’t compete with Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field. One of my favorite bands in my favorite ballpark. I would listen to their album “Ten” on repeat in high school. It was my go to warm up CD before cross country meets. That is one thing I don’t miss… running with a discman. I was with a big crew of people which made it even better. Nothing like throwing back some beers and belting lyrics along with Eddie Vedder to really bring friends together… not to mention end our 108-year drought for a World Series Championship!