It was Oct. 30, 2016, and Young the Giant joined Save Ferris as opening acts for headliner Gwen Stefani. As concertgoers took that last, long walk down the hill to the parking lot after the final show, the movement to keep live music in the city was well underway.
By the time of that final Irvine Meadows show, the Save Live Music Irvine campaign had collected more than 30,000 signatures from concertgoers and others who wanted a new outdoor music venue in Irvine. Live Nation Entertainment and FivePoint had announced plans for an interim amphitheater between the Irvine train station and the Orange County Great Park, just two miles from the old Irvine Meadows. But nothing had been approved, and there were probably more naysayers than true believers that a new venue could be planned, approved and constructed in time for concerts in 2017.
Well, score one for the optimists. The Irvine City Council unanimously approved the proposed interim venue in March at a hearing that drew hundreds in support of the new amphitheater. And while the 2018 outdoor concert season at the 12,000-seat FivePoint Amphitheatre will be brief, consisting of three shows on Oct. 5 (Young the Giant), Oct. 6 (95.9/FM The Fish’s Fish Family Night), and Oct. 7 (JACK 93.1/FM’s 12th Show), it will provide a preview of the full seasons to come. And, art, culture and music aficionados in the city hope the new venue will help inspire the planning and approval of a permanent new amphitheatre at the Great Park.
The first show at the amphitheater has a decidedly youthful feel, with Young the Giant joined by Cold War Kids, a band that also has OC roots, plus opening acts Sir Sly and Joywave.
For those less familiar with Young the Giant, suffice it to say that the band represents Irvine well as it tours around the country. It’s known as a “thinking person’s rock band” and the diversity of the band’s members is reflective of the city were the band was formed.
The theme of the band’s most recent recording, “Home of the Strange,” is of “the modern American immigrant story,” according the band’s bio. “It’s especially relevant to the quintet as they’re from different ethnic backgrounds and most are immigrants or first-generation Americans. Sameer Gadhia is Indian-American, Jacob Tilley (guitar) is British, Eric Cannata (guitar/vocals) is a New Jersey-born Italian-Jewish, Payam Doostzadeh (bass guitar) is Persian-American, and Francois Comtois (drums/vocals) is French-Canadian.”
Jon Caramanica, music critic for The New York Times, describes the band as balancing “introspection and longing with ambition and scale.” Caramanica went on to say that what unites the band is lead singer Sameer Gadhia, “who has one of the great contemporary rock voices, capable of huge swells without sounding pompous, and also of gentle gestures that connote despair and ache. He sings without self-consciousness, and it’s almost always striking. Few rock vocalists have his ease and confidence.”
That’s high praise indeed for a young man who recalls playing free shows in Irvine parks just a few years ago. “It feels like a full journey,” Gadhia told an OC Register reporter about performing at the opening night of the new amphitheater. “I was just back in Irvine last week sort of reminiscing actually about some of the places we used to play back at home, like Heritage Park Community Center,” he said. “We played every random place that you can play in Irvine, so it’s great that we’re finally making a splash by doing this big opening for this new amphitheater. We are all very excited … and so are our families.”
The FivePoint Amphitheatre concert in Irvine will be the 30th and final show in the band’s summer tour that started August 2 in Louisville, Kentucky. The tour has taken Young the Giant from Vancouver, British Columbia to Miami and covered some 21 states, including shows in New York’s Central Park and at iconic venues like Red Rocks near Denver.
The new amphitheater is steps from the Irvine train station, and indeed there will be a nicely landscaped walkway connecting the station’s platform to the new venue. So perhaps when Young the Giant plays its song “My Body,” the lyrics will be on track for the group and its Irvine audience: “The train is riding down to the station where I lived when I was a cool kid…”
There will be little time for staff at the amphitheatre to take a break between shows, as the next night after Young the Giant sees a contemporary Christian lineup featuring singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp, rock band Big Daddy Weave, Irish worship band We Are Messengers and Christian pop singer Micah Tyler.
Big Daddy Weave is considered one of the top artists in Christian music, are among the most requested and played artists on Christian radio, and have received many industry awards and nominations.
The final show in the short season is decidedly more secular, featuring another top band with an Orange County origin story, The Offspring. The band’s 1990s album “Smash” made it one of the most popular punk and KROQ bands of its era. The band will be joined on the JACK 93.1 radio station bill by Lit, Cypress Hill, Gin Blossoms, 311, and Eve 6.
For those who can’t wait for the full 2018 season at the interim amphitheater, this just in: Irish boy band heartthrob Niall Horan of One Direction fame has announced his Flicker World Tour 2018 is coming to FivePoint Amphitheatre on August 5. Fans can go to Facebook to register for presale opportunities.
Irvine, California, CA 92618
- Door/gates to the public are expected to open 90 minutes prior to the start of the performance, and the parking lot will open one hour prior to the opening of the door/gates to the facility. Concerts will be required to end by 11 p.m.
- The site’s 4,000-space parking lot is free, and will be accessible primarily from Chinon, off of Irvine Boulevard.
- Irvine Station should be a convenient pickup and drop-off area, with a pedestrian walkway available after crossing the pedestrian bridge over the tracks.
- Car service companies will have drop off and pick up areas off of Marine Way/Perimeter Road.
- The amphitheater will include both standing and seating areas, including features such as: 116,000 square feet of festival grounds, 38,000 square feet of bleacher seating, 29,000 square feet of turf seating, 3,000 square feet of box seating, and 23,500 square feet for a VIP area and hospitality zone.
- The annual revenue generated to the city is estimated to be at least $20,000 to $30,000, from onsite sales tax. Costs of service for Irvine Police Department personnel, both onsite and offsite, are covered by the operators of the amphitheater.