It feels like it was only a few weeks ago that I posted a blog entry about the onset of summer 2014 and today I’m writing about the end of summer. For most people Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer, but my summers don’t feel complete unless I’ve attended an al fresco Dave Matthews Band concert. I think I’ve only missed attending a Dave Show 2 summers. Once was because they didn’t tour that year and the other was last year when I got stuck in Mexico one extra day during our honeymoon due to a storm, but don’t worry a friend was able to use my tickets so they didn’t go to waste.
I have seen this band in various States, at numerous different venues and so many different times that I’ve lost count. It’s funny how throughout the last 2 decades of my life as I’ve made random new friends it turned out they were also DMB fans. There’s my friend from Pennsylvania that I met through work out here in California who moved back to PA. My two friends from Indianan whom I met out here in California, one of whom has moved back to Indy. My cousin who left for Washington State after high school and besides a short stint in Syracuse, New York has been sucked up by Seattle. The girl who I locked eyes with on campus at Cal State Long Beach who ended up living just a couple of miles away from me who turned out to be one of my favorite friends who was my concert buddy this past weekend. There’s an odd bond amongst Dave Matthews Band fans…we get it. You would be so surprised how many people hate on this band and don’t understand why they have such a loyal following. I’ll tell you why I love this band. They play REAL music. There are so many talented musicians on that stage playing more than just the guitar, drums and bass. There’s a saxophone, a trumpet, a trombone, percussion, winds, the genius of Tim Reynolds, Dave occasionally on piano, backup singers and they simply sound amazing! The clarity of the sound, the lyrics, the diversity of music and musicians they create is outstanding!
The summer 2014 tour didn’t have an album related theme. The magic of this year’s tour was “2sets”! The show started with an acoustic set and then moved on to a regular set. I loved the 2sets concept! Why waste people’s time with an opening act that probably more than half the attendees don’t care for and will ignore. We bought tickets and came to see and hear Dave Matthews Band and boy did they deliver!
I’ve been coming to concerts at Irvine Meadows for at least 15 years. It’s a pain in the ass to get in and out of, but now that I live in Orange County I get dropped off and picked up and at the least that alleviates the drama of dealing with the hell that is this venue’s traffic lot. I attribute the clusterfuck to the fact that the City doesn’t provide police traffic control. The only police officers to be seen just stand on medians observing the crowd. Traffic lights in the City of Irvine are atrociously long. With thousands of car emerging out of the lot they don’t even have a police officer directing traffic to allow for longer exit times for these cars. They just have to abide by the regularly times traffic lights. FAIL!
What made this show bittersweet was knowing that soon this venue will be gone. To give you a little background about this area and this City’s development trends, there used to be a Wild Rivers park by Irvine Meadows that was forced to close a couple of years ago because their land lease wasn’t renewed. Supposedly they were going into a new spot by the Great Park & opening this summer. Their website says the opening has been deferred to summer 2015. There also used to be a drive-through Lion country safari park by Irvine Meadows that closed in 1984. Who knew? The area around Irvine Meadows was always zoned for recreation commercial but sometime in the last decade the Irvine City Council changed the zoning to residential because that’s what the evil land mogul Irvine Company wanted! The Irvine Company pretty much owns everything in OC (residential and commercial). What got built where Wild Rivers was is phase 1 of a luxury apartment complex that’s already been built and is leasing up. The developer now wants to start building phase 2 which means the concert venue’s lease won’t be renewed in 2017. Traffic in and around Irvine is already atrocious so I’m sooooo glad they’re adding more housing. If you’ve ever been to Irvine you know what a snoozefest the City is so it’s no surprise that they’re getting rid of an amphitheatre that not only brings in all kinds of musical acts, but is also home to the Pacific Symphony.
There is talk about plans to spend $40-$50 million to MAYBE develop a smaller 10,000 capacity amphitheater at the Irvine Great Park. The new plans call from 8,00 seats and 2,000 lawn spots. They plan to convert the runways of the old El Toro airports into parking (only 4000 spots for a 10,000 seat venue sounds lovely!) Rumor has it that Live Nation & Golden voice are in talks with the City to try to make ant upscale venue similar to the Hollywood Bowl with boxes, restaurants and cafés which in my opinion doesn’t make sense since the intention is for the concert promoters is to come up with a Coachella like festival to attract people to the new amphitheatre. I’m not sure what kind of “festival” you can create at such a small venue with boxes and upscale food vendors!
I don’t believe a concert venue will ever get built at the Irvine Great Park because Irvine doesn’t have economic development in mind. That’s exactly why these NIMBY’s didn’t build an NFL stadium at the Great Park. That should have been Plan #1. Personally, I think the Great Park is a disaster! They keep going through RFP processes and modifying the Master Plan to allow private developers to do housing projects and build golf courses. That’s so Irvine of Irvine it’s disgusting!