Jimmy Buffett crowds will break in expanded venue
BY DAVE HOEKSTRA Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org June 26, 2013 11:31PM
In this Saturday, July 28, 2012 photo, Jimmy Buffett performs in his first-ever concert in the city of Detroit. (AP Photo/Detroit News, Adam Graham)
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island, 1300 S. Lynn White Dr.
Info: (800) 745-3000; concerts.livenation.com
Updated: July 30, 2013 7:24AM
‘Boats, Beaches, Bars and Ballads” is the name of Jimmy Buffett’s quadruple-platinum-selling box set.
He may add Blackhawks to the mix at 8 p.m. Saturday when he opens at the “new” venue at Northerly Island, now called Charter One Pavilion but expected to take on a new name this week.
The expanded temporary venue will hold up to 22,000 festive Buffett fans, many of whom will just migrate south after Friday’s Stanley Cup championship parade. There will be tailgating, probably a Blackhawk appearance (Patrick Kane hoisted the cup at Buffett’s August 2010 show at Tinley Park) and even boat-gating (the pavilion borders the 14th Street Beach).
Bigger shows are part of a plan with the Chicago Park District to increase district revenue from the site.
Mark Campana, Live Nation’s co-president of North American concerts, met with Buffett in May. “All he wanted to know was how the venue was coming along,” Campana said. “He’s planning some great surprises to make it a special night. As he says, he played Wrigley — but that’s not on the lake. He’s excited about this whole idea about being able to see boats and the beach.”
The lawn is sold out, but some pavilion seats were released earlier this week.
Here are a couple of pointers for this maiden voyage:
Going by water
“There are demarcations for the beach identified by buoys,” Campana said. “Boaters have to stay outside of the buoys but we won’t shag them off. That’s part of being at Northerly Island.”
Boats will be monitored by the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Marine units and the Coast Guard. There are no access points to the venue. The only water access to Northerly Island is from the Burnham Harbor side, and that is restricted to people who have harbor slips.
Campana said working-class Buffett fans in canoes or dinghies would be asked by authorities to leave.
Going by car or bus
Tailgating is an essential opening act at all Buffett concerts. Parking lots open at 2:30 p.m. Saturday between Soldier Field and McCormick Place and the upper level of the multi-tiered Waldron parking deck, which holds 1,500 cars just south of Soldier Field. Live Nation said there are 7,000 parking spaces within the museum campus.
The 31st Street lot will be used for RVs, buses and additional parking. A shuttle bus will take fans from the 31st Street lot to the 18th Street bus turnaround, just south of Soldier Field.
Premium parking rates will apply for those arriving between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m.
Water taxis have been added as a “novelty,” according to Campana. The free taxis will sail across Burnham Harbor from the building directly east of the Waldron deck. Each holds between 15 to 20 people. Five to six taxis will go back and forth in rotation.
“If people use them we will bring them back for Phish [July 19-21],” Campana said. “But we think most people will just walk over.”
There’s a Buffett song in there somewhere, like “Big Yellow Banana Taxi.”
How will everyone leave the peninsula at once?
“There are separate lawn gates,” Campana answered. “We will open the blowout gates from the lawn onto Lynn White Drive [which runs along the harbor]. We will have the water taxis. Solidarity Drive is the road that goes to the Adler Planetarium, and we expect the north side of Solidarity will have vehicular traffic and the south side of Solidarity Drive will be closed for pedestrian traffic.”
Campana has worked with Buffett since 1980, when he was on the team that built the since-razed Poplar Creek Theater in Hoffman Estates.
“His people were involved in our new staging, and they helped us with the selection of the staging company,” Campana said. “The staging we brought in [for Northerly Island] is significantly larger than the previous venue. The lawn we built is now parkland and will be able to be used for things like kite flying. It is big open space. Before it was scrubland with tall wild grasses.”
The wild grasses still exist outside the lawn, which features a gentle slope so fans can see over the people in front.
One local fan couldn’t be more excited about the lakefront venue. “We may not have salt water and palm trees, but nothing beats this city in the summer, and the skyline behind the stage next to the water will be incredible!” wrote Billy Brehm, 42-year-old president of the 200-member Chicago Parrothead Club, in an email. “Especially after the Stanley Cup win!”
Last year the Elmhurst-based social club raised $25,000 for charity and donated hundreds of volunteer hours.
The Parrotheads’ Saturday agenda begins at 10 a.m. at the Lake View tiki bar Trader Todd’s, where Key West singer-songwriter Scott Kirby performs. “Then moving to Margaritaville at Navy Pier,” Brehmwrote, “and then to the tailgate lots to gear up for the show! Our club alone has over 80 members coming, plus all of the other Parrothead clubs coming into town.”
Northerly Island shows using the boutique 8,000-seat configuration will include O.A.R. on Friday and Barenaked Ladies and Ben Folds on July 9. Live Nation moved the June 1 Dispatch show from Northerly Island to the UIC Pavilion because weather delayed construction on the expanded pavilion. Dispatch will now play an acoustic show at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Northerly Island for people who had tickets to the June 1 outdoor gig.
“Anybody who had a ticket to the original show can come to this show,” Campana said. “If anybody else wants to come and make a $10 donation [credit card only], the money goes to charities the park district and the band worked out.”