Thursday, May 10, 2012

$5 Admission for Twilight Concerts: Good or Bad Idea?

Posted By on May 10, 2012, 1:55 PM

The 25th season of the Twilight Concert Series announced its lineup today along with a number of important changes --- (detailed here), namely that the event will no longer be free. Each of the nine shows will cost $5, or $35 for the season. It stirred some debate in the newsroom, which we decided to put out to the readers.

What's Your View on the $5 Twilight Concert Fee?

A good idea and long overdue:
Austen Diamond, City Weekly music & listings editor:

Top notch artists ain’t cheap
Take a look at this year’s lineup. It is effing incredible. These are some of the finest national touring musicians who might have otherwise passed over Salt Lake City and certainly didn’t give the series the time of day a decade ago. Sure, a free concert with some washed up ‘90s act -- like Blues Traveler or Better than Ezra -- would be nice, but far -- very far -- from incredible or eliciting of fist pumps (me at the press conference) and “wows” from music lovers.

If the concerts outgrow Pioneer Park, where would they go?
Each of the several venue relocations took, on average, seven years before it happened, and all were due to construction, but also because attendees said that it was too crowded for the locale. At Pioneer Park, however, people were kvetching about the numbers after the first show: the Modest Mouse debacle of 2010. With the 2011 season-closing Lupe Fiasco performance clocked at 52,000 attendees, where else could the series move? To any place that I could surmise (Usana? Rice-Eccles?), I’d say this to: No, thanks.

Sky-high costs
More and more attendees means more and more costs -- from added security to additional portable toilets -- and who’s going to foot the bill? Taxpayers who don’t give a shit about music? This minimal fee is an excellent way to keep the series afloat and also keep public funds from being drained on the concertgoers who aren’t even there for the concert.

Be gone, riff-raff.
Sure, the free event is about creating a vibrant downtown, and everyone deserves music, but some (thousands) of the attendees were not there for the music, but rather the scene and to be seen. I feel like my grandpa when I think about “those darn hooligans,” but I’d rather be comfortable and enjoy myself than navigate through some of SLC’s riff-raff.

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Hell, no! Keep the Concerts Free!
Jerre Wroble, City Weekly editor

Free access to art and entertainment such as we have in SLC makes living here a triumph.

The first time I set foot at a Twilight concert, I got that "life is good in the SLC" feeling. Here we were, crammed into what was essentially a mosh pit at the Gallivan Center -- hot, but moving and grooving together, cooling off with a plastic cup full of beer.

Twilight outgrew Gallivan and moved to Pioneer Park, only to attract larger crowds. Why wouldn't they? They've got a kickass concert series and a bunch of music fans who are priced out of Red Butte Gardens and Deer Valley summer concerts. It became such a fine and happy tradition to bring a blanket and balloon and meet friends at Twilight.

The concerts got better and the crowds grew in response to the quality. And now, there's a fly in the ointment: five bucks. It's the opening of the "fee" door, marking the end of an era of free downtown concerts that were a gift to the people and all that. Sure, it's only $5 per concert this year. What about next year, after organizers run their fingers through all those $5 bills? I predict $10, then $20, then $25. And we will have a downtown version of the Red Butte Gardens Concert Series.

And why does anyone think that $5 will deter the "riff-raff"? That amounts to chump change. The scenesters will be there, talking and flinging Frisbees while you're trying to listen intently to your favorite band. Five dollars is not enough but is too much, all the same.

The concerts should remain free, but tickets should be required. They could be picked up in advance from various Downtown Alliance members. Temple Square does it all the time with its Christmas concerts. There should be no admission without a "free" ticket. Keep it free and if "top artists" cost too much, scale it back to what can be afforded. That was the beauty of Twilight. It was pretty damned good music that was free. But we're upping the game in recent years; the ambition of this concert series may be a problem.

With fees, we're kissing the whole marvelous free-concert notion goodbye, because money changes everything.

* * *

Readers, what do you say? Pay or keep it free?

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