Wow! Last night may well have been the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on in quite some time. And that’s really saying something considering the abjectly boorish behavior of the part of too many attendees made me give up on going to major concerts.
And the fun started with a scintillating slate of southern rock bands that brought back some wonderful memories of a semi-misspent youth. The Artemus Pyle Band, The Outlaws, Molly Hatchet, and The Marshall Tucker Band proceeded to get the avid crowd on their feet on far more than one occasion.
For the uninitiated, Artemus Pyle was Lynyrd Skynyrd’s second drummer and I could listen to the Outlaw’s “Green Grass and High Tides” anytime, anywhere. Molly Hatchet, or at least their high perched drummer, was “Flirting With Disaster” as they put on a heck of a show and the evening ended perfectly with the more mellow offerings of the Marshall Tucker Band.
Why, when the first flute-borne strains of “Can’t You See” began wafting through the cool night Festival Park air, I immediately started to suffer from a serious case of goose bumps.
And the venue made the evening even better.
The sound was virtually perfect, you could do the lawn seat thing for as little as 19 bucks, and the concessions were the most reasonably priced I’ve ever seen at any similar sized concert. Five hours of live classic rock ‘n roll for under a sawbuck! It doesn’t get much better than that.
Though I can’t completely put my finger on it, despite Festival Park’s scope and a good crowd, it felt like we were sitting in a murh more intimate setting. After his set, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Artemus Pyle himself, wandered through the crowd to greet fans and sign autographs.
You had to pay a premium for the service, but they even had waitresses roaming through the reserved seating section to take drink and food orders.
But the best part of the evening was that the older throng knew how to behave at a concert. We exchanged those knowing looks, smiles and high fives that come from sharing a common bond and finally focusing on something other than our own limited lives. I will never forget that amazing greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts feeling that washed over the crowd as Marshall Tucker’s Doug Gray had us sing an acapella version of that famous “Can’t You See” opening verse.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the Elgin Police Department dispensed with the ensuing traffic without even breaking a sweat. The concert ended at about 10:10 and my wife and I were back in Geneva by 10:30.
Elgin! You’re fricken’ onto something here! I don’t want to have to drive into Chicago to pay a bleepin’ arm and a leg to see Lollapalooza and get a red light camera ticket in the process.
Please remember that this sentiment comes from an overly-curmudgeonly columnist who’d long given up on the idea of outdoor concerts. As it turns out, I was so enamored of this event that I am already eager to return for Deep Purple on August 20th (and I would encourage you to get your tickets too.)
So here’s what I’d really like to see. I want to see the Elgin City Council get as excited about this possibility as I am. What that means is not simply sitting back and reaping the benefits while the Grand Victoria does all the work. Considering the kind of corporate citizen the Grand Victoria and Pritzker family have been from the beginning, it’s time for the Elgin City Council to return that favor.
If last night’s police presence cost ten grand, then the city and the boat can split the bill. Get that permanent stage built ASAP. Perhaps the fine folks at the Elgin Public Works department could pour the concrete base. Most of all, please put some City cash into promoting these concerts!
Holy crap! If the Grand Victoria can generate that kind of crowd on a Sunday night, imagine how busy the bars and restaurants would be on a Friday or Saturday. You better believe my wife and I ate dinner in Elgin last night!
Dave (Kaptain), You know you’re my favorite mayor (sorry Tom Weisner) and I firmly believe you understand exactly what I’m saying here. You are very effective at the almost lost art of leading from behind, this time, but this time I’d love to see you out in front of this amazing partnership potential.
Please don’t let the Council give the Pritzker family any reason to move on. Make this work now because, if you let this opportunity go, it won’t be coming back.
I’ll see you all at Deep Purple.