Monday, July 2, 2012

Concerts in the Park

Summer means many things to many people. There's swimming, road trips, barbeques, fireworks, and for most teachers and students, a much needed break. For over a decade, summer has also meant one very important thing to me: Friday Night Concerts in the Park. I attend a few different CIP shows every summer.

I believe I first started attending CIP in 1999. That was the year I really got into local music scene.

At that time, these Friday Night Concerts were a big deal. This was before the days of Myspace and Facebook. Bands really worked their butts off promoting their appearances, enlisting the help of street teams and even sending out reminders via snail mail.

Every Friday night, by the time the headlining band struck its first chord, the area in front of the stage at Cesar Chavez Plaza would be packed with loyal fans and those just wanting to be in on the action. Standing against the gate separating the crowd from the bands on the cement stage, you could feel the energy. It was something special.

That "specialness" remained for years, but I noticed it tapering off the last few years. At first I thought maybe it was me. Maybe because I was older and had been to countless shows for over a decade, the excitement just wasn't there for me.

But it wasn't just me. My husband, who has been attending CIP since 2004, also noticed it. And it wasn't just that the crowds were smallerwhich they wereit was that those Friday nights just didn't seem to be that big of a deal anymore. I noticed bands didn't promote them like they used to. The crowd just didn't react the same. The area in front of the stage was often depressingly empty.

The shows had become commonplace. Whether it was lack of promoting on the bands' end, people tired of seeing the same bands (a common complaint, although one I don't always think was justified) or maybe the fact that the scene seems far more fragmented (and with less of a good pop rock presence) than in my youth, I don't know. I just knew something had changed.

This year, a big drama-filled change occurred, and it's turned out to be a huge change for the better.

Under new leadership, the Friday Night Concerts in the Park series is back to its old glory. The park is packed on Friday nights (breaking records, even), but more than that, the park is buzzing with that energy you only experience at a great live show.

This is not to take away from what Jerry Perry did for CIP, because he did amazing things for it for many years. I wouldn't look back so fondly on those shows of years past if it wasn't for Perry's hard work behind the scenes.

This is to give credit where credit is due. So props (yea, I said props) to Play Big Sacramento. Say what you will about the name and the individuals on the panel, but as a group, they've breathed much needed life into CIP.

I've loved the shows I've attended thus far and can't wait to make the trek in freeway traffic for more. (OK, I could do without the traffic to the 5 p.m. start time.)

Here's some of my favorite "crappy cell phone" pics this year.

I make Aaron take a photo like this at every CIP. This was during The Infamous Swanks in May.

A disabled (and maybe homeless) man gave me this pinwheel during The Nickel Slots' set in May. I gave it to a kid.

7 Seconds inspired circle pits for people of all ages in June.

I dub this one, 'The cutest circle pit, eva!"

Aaron and me during 7 Seconds, one day before our fifth wedding anniversary.

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