Last night, Matthew Sweet played a show for the Nitefall on the River concert series at Simon Estes Amphitheater. My friends Paul and Jen joined me and we had a pretty good time. (Paul I wasn't sure what to link you with so I linked you to the review of your family empire - ha ha)
It has literally been 12 years since I listened to a full Matthew Sweet album, so I was a little concerned that I wouldn't know many of the songs. I was pleasantly surprised that I remembered more than I thought I would. The ones that I didn't know had everything I liked about Matthew Sweet - chunky, catchy guitar riffs, 90's alternative musical tempos, and enjoyable melodies. It was the first date of his mini-tour and I thought they sounded pretty good for the first date. I hadn't heard his cover of Cinnamon Girl before. I would suggest checking him out next time he comes around.
This show was the culmination of me trying to see Matthew Sweet in concert for 15+ years. I have had tickets to 3 or 4 shows where he was the opening band but something always happened - traffic jam on I-80, blizzard, band schedule change, etc... I have always just missed him. I had heard the finishing chords of Girlfriend twice though! It was always THAT close. I sort of expected him to be come on stage and be struck by lightning or something to prevent me from seeing him yet again.
I enjoyed the music of the show quite a bit and was glad I went even though it was miserably hot and humid before the sun went down. Simon Estes is a great place to see shows. What I didn't like one bit was the sudden rule changes for the Nitefall on the River shows...and that being that no coolers, no outside food, an no outside drink allowed. Before yesterday (for like the past 5 years of the concert series), you could always pack a cooler and bring your own non-alcoholic beverages (as long as they weren't in glass containers). I thought this was a great setup. It's not that I never bought food or drink there. I probably bought food and drink more times than I did not. I just really enjoyed being able to eat or drink what I felt like because their selection of food is the same every single week...and they really don't have anything for someone who just wants a small snack.
So last night, I showed up with a cooler with a water, a mountain dew, and some grapes for snacking. I was turned away and had to take it back to my car before I was allowed entrance. I think my exact words at the time were "You have to be fucking kidding me!" Rule changes are fine, I understand that some times need to change. However, a little notice would be nice...the web site was saying coolers were allowed as of 5pm (for a 7pm show). It is changed this morning though. Changes the rules like that on a 95 degree day was just idiotic.
This was a totally unnecessary rule change. I can only assume that you did it to help maximize your earnings. I argue that it had the opposite effect. First of all, I planned to buy dinner there last night, but I didn't bring enough money for both food and drink since I had brought my cooler thereby thinking I didn't need to stop at an ATM. But you know what doesn't go really well on a hot day? BBQ and nothing to wash it down. So you missed out on that money. I was pissed enough that I decided I wouldn't buy anything to drink there either and probably won't in the future. Sure, I never have spent a lot on food and drink there but it is $10+ a week that you will definitely not be getting now. How about lost ticket sales? Well, I saw four girls in front of me that decided to sit outside on the bridge and eat instead (that's $48). I saw two families walk away since they couldn't bring their coolers (another $48). Plus any food/drink that these 8 adults and 5 kids would have had...let's play it conservative and say that as a whole they would have only spent $20 for all of them. So now you are down over $125...all because you want me to buy a $3 water? And that was all within about 2 minutes I was at the gate. If this is really a money issue, charge a $3 cooler fee to the people that bring them. I would pay that.
I liked having the option of being able to take some fresh fruit or crackers instead of having to eat from a vendor. I don't mind vendor food every once in a while but don't look forward to it every week. I loved coming to Nitefall even when I didn't really care for the band because it was a nice atmosphere where you could have a nice, value priced evening. I doubt I will now come for the shows I am just casually interested in. I probably also won't recommend it to families like I used to, it just seems to have lost something now. To me, allowing coolers always made it seem like a community...I met so many people by sharing a few small treats, it was always a good ice breaker to meet the person next to you. Now the whole thing just seems like it is about money and I think the atmosphere will change because of it.