By Anne E. O’Keefe
Rockford Area Arts Council
It goes without saying that Krypto has been a tremendous asset to the cool quotient of downtown since Chris Wachowiak opened its doors as such. He didn’t just have a vision; he built a team of people to also implement it – brilliant!
Wachowiak did so much more than simply open a downtown venue. He created an incubator of cool ideas for downtown. The venue was like the Ferris Bueller of venues. It felt like home to up-and-coming musicians, comedians and visual artists. It attracted the PBR lovers along with the Screw City Beer Fest devotees. Depending on what was at the BMO or the Coronado, it would fill with a crowd of people, none of which I recognized.
Wachowiak and his team created an atmosphere for artists and audiences that made you feel like you could “leap tall buildings in a single bound”.
“Chris put me on the stage before almost anybody else in town would give me a shot. I’ve played Krypto for a decade now,” said Emily Hurd, singer-songwriter.
“He allowed me to share bills with true heroes of mine. My music career is richer and further along because of that guy. Hats off to him for all he’s done for local and touring musicians, downtown Rockford, and the world.”
Doc and Jerry, downtown trailblazers at J. R. Kortman Center for Design/Kortman Gallery, want to say, “Thanks, Chris!”
“He has been dedicated to downtown Rockford and Kryptonite for years. His energy and enthusiasm will be missed. He was able to bring a whole new crowd of people downtown to attend fun, creative and unique events.”
There are two things I am personally thankful for when it comes to Wachowiak. The first is bringing stand-up comedy to his stage. Matt Drufke and his band of comic geniuses have been making Krypto roar with laughter over the past two years.
“I was thrilled to run Comics of Steel at Kryptonite for over two years. As a comedy producer, you rarely get a chance to see a venue that understands and supports a comedy show,” said Drufke.
“Kryptonite, with its amazing staff and supportive owner, was that venue. Jared Corey is a saint who loves comedy and the comedy shows and I hope that I did Jared, Chris, and the entire staff of Kryptonite proud.”
The second thing I’m appreciative of is Krypto being the leading venue for an often underserved population, dogs that love to rock. Wachowiak instituted the Downtown Dog Walks, my personal favorite was the Halloween party. My dog Winnie wants to thank Chris for paving the way for dogs to enjoy night life in downtown Rockford. Especially since she is not really a dog park fan, she wants music and a cool atmosphere.
Hats off to Mr. Wachowiak for moving on to new challenges and thank you for being the innovator of bold, inclusive, new ideas for events downtown.