When the Dave Matthews Band comes to town, it brings thousands of fans. Even if you’re not a lover of the music, you’ve got to appreciate the youthful excitement and joy a big event like the Dave Matthews concert brought to our region this weekend.
For that, we need to send some thanks to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), the outdoor amphitheater where Dave Matthews played both Friday and Saturday nights.
(Belated thanks to SPAC, as well, for that great Who concert back in 1971.)
Yes, beautiful SPAC, nestled amid the tall pines of the Saratoga Spa State Park, gives us the New York City Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra every summer.
It has also long hosted popular music concerts that have energized our region.
But when it comes to booking a great concert season, SPAC had a few lean years back in the early 2000s.
In recent years, Live Nation, the company with which SPAC now contracts to book and stage popular concerts, has done a good job of bringing solid shows such as Phish, Maroon 5 and Farm Aid to Saratoga. That arrangement has helped subsidize SPAC’s beloved classical offerings.
Under last year’s contract, Live Nation paid SPAC $1.3 million, helping to offset the considerable $2 million loss SPAC took on its classical music and dance performances.
To be certain, this year’s lineup is studded with old-timers like the Moody Blues and Kiss, but it also includes more current artists like Luke Bryan and the Zac Brown Band.
There have been, and will continue to be, problems related to large crowds, traffic congestion, garbage and substance abuse. Organizers and the city of Saratoga Springs have certainly become adept over the years at dealing with those problems, but the headaches, hassles and potential dangers shouldn’t be minimized and can’t be ignored.
Certainly, there’s room for a bit of polish in any concert lineup.
Live Nation and SPAC have done a good job together this year. But the summer’s three hottest shows — Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake and Paul McCartney — were booked down the Northway in Albany.
We’d like to see SPAC sparkle with some more of those big names as well.