FivePoint Amphitheatre Opens
Two radio station-sponsored shows (95.9/FM The Fish’s Fish Family Night on Oct. 6, and JACK 93.1/FM’s 12th Show on Oct. 7) rounded out the venue’s first brief season. It was a successful test run for the temporary amphitheater, which will have a full season next summer and for two years after that. Opening the new venue only a year after the closing of Irvine Meadows also served as an important symbol of the city’s commitment to keep live music in Irvine, with the partnership of Live Nation and FivePoint.
More than 30,000 signatures were collected online and at concerts during the last season at Irvine Meadows in support of a new amphitheater.
“FivePoint Amphitheatre is the result of what happens when a community comes together to prioritize what’s important to them, and companies like Live Nation and FivePoint respond by stepping up to work collaboratively with city leaders,” said Bret Gallagher, president of Southern California Live Nation, in a statement about the new venue. “We’re proud of the lead role we’re playing in delivering a visually stunning, high-quality event venue to music fans working with FivePoint and the city of Irvine.”
Prior to the start of the show, Gallagher introduced Irvine Mayor Donald Wagner, Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer and FivePoint CEO and Chairman Emile Haddad, all of whom spoke to the future of live music in the city.
“Less than a year ago, we stood together and said, ‘Live music is not going to die in Irvine,’” Emile Haddad told the audience, which cheered in response. “When the lights were turned off at Irvine Meadows, it marked the end of an era. Now, we’re standing here celebrating the beginning of a new era.”
“We are here tonight in an interim facility and we are planning a much bigger, much greater facility,” Wagner said. “Live music is going to stay in Irvine.”
Live Nation Entertainment and the city of Irvine have indicated a commitment to planning and building a larger, permanent amphitheater that will be located inside the boundaries of the Orange County Great Park.
Parking was free at the venue, and security was organized and efficient, including private security company employees and a strong Irvine Police Department presence–some officers were on horseback. With the opening of the venue coming days after the concert shooting in Las Vegas, security at the venue was heightened.
Guests arriving at the amphitheater explored the new, expansive space that included an open grass area outside of the seating itself, where there was a wide variety of food and drink for sale. Prior to opening night, Live Nation’s Gallagher had highlighted a commitment to local cuisine. That was evident in offerings that included stands featuring tacos from the Tackle Box, which has a restaurant on the sand at Corona del Mar State Beach, hamburgers from L.A. icon Cassell’s, Korean barbecue from Hanjip and grilled cheese from food truck favorite The Big Cheese. Familiar food trucks on site included TJ’s Woodfire Pizza, Barcelona Latin Bistro and Spudrunners.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was a craft cocktail stand from Blinking Owl Distillery, Orange County’s first contemporary distillery. Located in Santa Ana, Blinking Owl makes its own vodka, gin and aquavit, which were featured in the drinks for sale during the FivePoint Amphitheatre concerts.
The new venue opened to generally positive reviews, with many expressing thanks to the city of Irvine, Live Nation and FivePoint for keeping live music in Orange County and Irvine. The sound was solid throughout the evening from just about everywhere in the venue – whether in the general admission grass area in front of the stage, in the seats and even in the food and restaurant area.
“For a temporary venue, this place was great. It was wide and spread out so that you never feel compacted. You can enjoy any show at your own pace and space,” John W. from Orange reported on Yelp.
“You can’t expect it to be like the old Irvine Meadows, when it’s only temporary,” said Vanessa S. from Lake Forest, also on Yelp. “I think it’s cute. You have to go there with an open mind. I’m so, so happy the city of Irvine said yes to all of this. I absolutely love music and concerts and I hate having to drive far, and this is only about 7 minutes away from where I live.”
Some criticisms in news reports and online message boards included concerns about the dust from dirt lots and roads, some confusion about directions to the venue, and restrooms out of order during the Jack FM show. Those issues should be addressed by next summer’s shows. Some objected to the expense of food and drink, though many suggested the prices were in line with the going rate for concert fare.
“Once patrons found the correct roads, it seemed traffic flowed in rather easily,” reported the OC Register. “Some guests opted to Uber or Lyft to the show, while some took the train, which stops just a few hundred feet from the venue entrance at the Irvine station, taking advantage of Pacific Surfliner’s deal for the late-night train service as well as a special buy one-get one free companion fare offer.”
Now, with the intentionally brief 2017 concert season successfully completed, the countdown is on for the announcement of next season’s concert schedule. Season tickets and VIP opportunity information at FivePoint Amphitheatre is already available online.
Live Nation’s Bret Gallagher says the 2018 season “will be similar to what you’d expect when you would go to see shows at Irvine Meadows,” as well as the shows Live Nation produces at Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino.”
So far one show has been set: Niall Horan of One Direction fame has announced his Flicker World Tour 2018 will arrive at FivePoint Amphitheatre on Aug. 5. Look to Irvine City News for updates as more shows are announced in coming months.