I was done! Finshed! Kaput! It was over! I’d had enough! In the inimitable words of the almighty Eagles, I was “already gone.”
Oh sure! We did bear wonderful witness to the late, great B.B. King at the Paramount in Aurora and there was no way I was gonna miss 12-string guitar virtuoso Leo Kottke at the ECC Arts Center, but as far as outdoor concerts went, the only way you could get me there was to drag me kicking and screaming the entire way.
The venues weren’t that great, general admission is essentially an adult game of cutthroat musical chairs, the sound systems frequently sucked, the younger crowds didn’t know how to behave, and getting in and out if ‘em made Theseus’ ordeal in Crete look like child’s play.
So, without a second thought, I gave it all up cold turkey. Sure! That choice limited my performer choices, but it was something I could most certainly live with.
But then a funny thing happened on my way to seeking more solitude! The Grand Victora Casino started hosting concerts at the adjoining Festival Park in Elgin. So last summer I decided to break my self-sworn vow and go see Marshall Tucker and Deep Purple.
And those two events were so good that my lovely wife and I have already gone to this summer’s GVC concert series a number of time. George Thorogood, Heart, and Boston concerts with Huey Lewis and the News coming up to be exact!
So what brought about this change of heart and shifted concert consciousness? The GVC managed to eliminate everything I’d grown to hate about outdoor concerts. And in doing so, they proved it really isn’t that hard to get it right. So let’s go through what I love about these show point by point!
There’s nothing like paying $2,724 for a ticket only to be hit with a $30 parking fee the second you arrive at the show. Then all that gets you is the far end of the farm field which offers no real hope of getting home before January.
Ah! But at the GVC concerts, parking is always free and there’s plenty of it. If you can’t find a spot at the Casino lots, there are plenty of municipal parking lots and garages well within walking distance. And because all that parking is reasonably spread out, there aren’t the kind of bottlenecks the plague so many other outdoor venues.
2. Ticket Prices
Did I mention paying $2,724 to get into some of these summer concerts with subpar sound systems? In a strange, but welcome twist, when it comes to the GVC, you can forget about filling out that second mortgage application. All of the reserved seats (only the lawn is general admission) are under a hundred bucks and there ain’t a bad one in the house.
For those bottom line budget kind of folks, lawn seats are a mere thirty bucks and, unlike other venues, you can actually see the stage from those cheaper seats.
3. Concession Prices
The same thing goes for concession prices. There’s no need to stop at a payday loan store before the show. From food to drinks, it’s all reasonably priced and the lines move like lightning.
4. Older Audiences Behave Better
Don’t get me wrong! I’m not sayin’ folks shouldn’t have a good time. But I can do without the fights, the various and sundry alcohol induced hijinks, and the generally inconsiderate behavior that plagues so many other outdoor concert venues. Call me crazy, but I firmly believe these shows be a bit more enjoyable than your average military survival training.
GVC crowds “get it” to the point where even this solitary soul enjoys being at Festival Park.
These fine folks seem to have a firm grasp on the notion that it ain’t the Stones at Altamont. As a result, they’re actually quite friendly and helpful, and when it comes to keeping the aisles clear and ensuing that no one’s view is unduly blocked, I don’t think I’ve seen a more efficient group of people.
6. The EPD
Even if you exit with the herd at the most crowded GVC concert, the efficiency experts at the Elgin Police Department get you out of the parking lots and on your way home in no time. No sitting around and swearing in traffic necessary!
After the sold out Boston show, my wife and I were back in Geneva in a scant 20 minutes. What more could you ask for?
7. The Show Times
I don’t know about you, but I ‘m getting up there and staying up late is pretty much off the table. Thankfully, the GVC concerts start at 7 and 7:30 which means you’re back home by 10:30. Even I can handle that. As for the more adventurous souls, those reasonable show times leave plenty of time to enjoy some of Elgin’s finer dining and drinking establishments.
So suddenly, thanks to the Grand Victoria, instead of dreading them, I’m actually looking forward to outdoor concerts again. Who’d a thunk it?
I hope to see you there soon!