Monday, May 21, 2012

What is the Impact of Free Concerts?

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2012 at 10:43 AM

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Last weekend was a good one for concerts in Memphis, with Wilco at Mud Island Amphitheater and The Wandering at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park, both on Saturday night.

I have never seen so many people at Levitt Shell since the free concerts began. The hillside was packed by 7:30, and cars were parked (and towed) on Kenilworth, Overton Park, and other nearby streets. A Shell board member I ran into estimated the crowd at 2,500-3,000.

Two of my Flyer colleagues went to the Wilco concert and gave it great reviews, but said the amphitheater was about half full. Tickets were $42 plus handling charges.

The barbecue contest was also going on at Tom Lee Park Saturday night. All in all, a lot of people coming out downtown and in Midtown. And Sunday afternoon the zoo had such a big crowd that there were ten rows of cars parked on the grass outside the parking lot.

Back to the concerts, I wonder what performers, promoters, and fans think about the twin offerings of high-quality and somewhat similar music at the same time at the two venues. Most people bring food and drink to the Shell, where Ghost River was on sale for $3. At Mud Island beer was $5 and bringing in food and beverages was prohibited.

What impact is "free" having on the concert scene?

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