A ridiculous summer concert season ahead


When it rains, it pours…

In 2007, I covered Halifax’s rather-silly obsession with “the megaconcert” – the all-encompassing show with a world-class musical act that would build on the Rolling Stones concert the year previous and position Halifax as a viable concert destination. Nothing ever materialized – Celine Dion fiasco aside – and our charming archnemesis (MONCTON!!!! *shakes fist*) continued to court the talent thanks to their central location and convenient infrastructure.

Frankly, it’s probably for the best. Even though there’s something romantic about attracting a giant concert – a romanticism even I got caught up in at times – the impact of one show pales in comparison to the ongoing work done by promoters and venues on a smaller level to get Halifax on the touring map for mid- and upper-level bands. Besides, they became lighting rods for everyone’s pet peeves: use (and abuse) of common lands, public investment in leisure events, Celine Dion…in many ways, the idea of the megaconcert brought out the worst in all of us.

Nothing significant materialized in 2007…or 2008…and with a downturn in the economy, I certainly wasn’t expecting much for 2009.

Boy, was I wrong.

This summer Halifax will be seeing four major outdoor concerts – two on the Halifax Commons (on back-to-back weekends, no less) and two on the amphitheatre-esque Garrison Grounds on Citadel Hill. When you add in two massive shows in Moncton and another festival in Fredericton, the region has one hell of a summer ahead – especially if you like mass-audience rock and roll.

In fact, it makes one wonder if we can really handle all of it. Adam is convinced that at least one of these shows will be cancelled due to a lack of ticket sales; I’m not ready to agree so easily, but I wouldn’t bet against him either. Though none of the shows are competing directly with each other on the same dates, they’re almost all designed to appeal to a rock-centric, large-scale audience, with dollars and travel time at stake. It’s very likely something’s gonna give.

The lineup:

June 19-21
fredrockFredRock 09 Music Festival
Location: Capital Exhibition Centre and Raceway, Fredericton
Lineup: The Black Crowes, Live, Matt Mays + El Torpedo, more.
Ticket price: $101.50 for all three days

Some might say that stretching this lineup over two days might be pushing it – there are arguably deeper single-day festivals to come – and it’s certainly not my cup of tea, but give credit where credit is due: the show knows its audience (classic rock fans) and the headliners fit the bill even if their relevancy has long since ended. Still, the festival should be lucky that it’s starting the season and not stuck in the middle where it could get lost in the shuffle.

June 27
summerkickoffMagnetic Hill Music Festival Summer Kickoff
Location: Magnetic Hill, Moncton
Lineup: Bon Jovi, Bachman-Cummings, State of Shock, Mobile, Alfa Rococo
Ticket price: $99.50

Jovi’s name has been kicking around the regional concert shortlists for some time – the band hasn’t played here since a pair of shows at the Halifax Metro Centre in the mid-90s. There’s nothing really special about the rest of the lineup – Bachman-Cummings tour Canada like it’s second nature to them – but the headliners are clearly the draw here.

July 4
virginfestVirgin Festival
Location: Citadel Hill, Halifax
Lineup: The Tragically Hip, The Offspring, Metric, Dinosaur Jr., Plants and Animals, Arkells, Hey Rosetta!
Ticket price: $75.50

Virgin have been steadily increasing their festival roster across Canada over the past few years, and while only the Montreal and Halifax lineups have been announced thus far, we win: instead of a pop-centric show with New Kids on the Block and the Black Eyed Peas we get Canada’s greatest workman band, nostalgic mid-90s pop punkers and a surprisingly deep undercard. I expect there will be people paying the price for Dinosaur Jr. alone.

July 11
mccartneyhaliPaul McCartney
Location: Halifax Commons
Lineup: For now, just Sir Paul.
Ticket price: $125 (early bird – tix on sale Friday May 29)

He’s been at the top of Halifax’s wish list for a long time; a show was almost put together last year but promoters ran out of time in the summer. Well, now it’s happening: the Beatle is coming to the Halifax Commons. Having seen his show last month at Coachella, I wholeheartedly recommend attendance to anyone with ears and eyeballs (and even those with one or the other). It’s a tour-de-force of everything wonderful in McCartney’s oeuvre, a Greatest Hits cornucopia that goes on forever because, well, the guy’s got his fingers in dozens of the greatest songs ever written. Halifax will be talking about this show for years to come; count on it.

July 18
halifaxrocksHalifax Rocks 2009
Location: Halifax Commons
Lineup: KISS, Thornley, the Trews, Econoline Crush, The Novaks
Ticket price: $99 (increasing after June 1)

I’ve long professed that I just don’t *get* KISS; never have, likely never will. But I appreciate that a lot of people do, so I quieted my concerns when they were announced as the single act at the top of the “Halifax Rocks 2009” bill. Now that we know the full lineup, though, I gotta ask – is this lineup really going to sell the tickets to justify using the more cumbersome Commons (which can hold up to 70-80,000 people) instead of the charmingly efficient Citadel Hill (suitable for 20-30,000)? After all, the second biggest act – Thornley – played the Palace last time he was in town.

August 2
rockfestCanadian Forces Halifax Rock Fest
Location: Citadel Hill, Halifax
Lineup: Chickenfoot, Our Lady Peace, Finger Eleven, Sloan, others
Ticket price: $75

Don’t know who Chickenfoot is? You’re the biggest problem that the CF Halifax show has to overcome. The “supergroup” of Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony, Joe Satriani and Chad Smith hasn’t released an album yet and lacks the name recognition that they need to put asses in seats (errr…on the grass). The rest of the lineup are familiar faces, but OLP’s been out of the spotlight so long that it’s doubtful they’ll be able to draw the way they did a decade ago in the Summersault era. If there’s a festival that might not make it to concert day, it’s this one.

August 6
acdcmonctonMagnetic Hill Music Festival (AC/DC)
Location: Magnetic Hill, Moncton
Lineup: AC/DC
Ticket price: $99.50

Halifax has been clamoring for Sir Paul, but Moncton’s been begging for Angus and the lads for just as long. The show lacks both a supporting lineup and a convenient weekend date (hello, Thursday show) but no matter – this thing will still attract concertgoers from all across the Maritimes. AC/DC tours happen rarely enough, and their reputation well honed enough, that they sell this thing on their own.


3 responses to “A ridiculous summer concert season ahead

  1. Pingback: …in which McNutt recaps Virgin Festival Halifax « McNutt Against the Music·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s