ALPINE VALLEY CLOSES FOR SUMMER 2017
There was a time when Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin was among the most elite music venues in the nation.
In its prime in 1989, the East Troy amphitheater hosted some of the biggest acts in the world: the Rolling Stones and the Who and the Grateful Dead and Metallica. The Dead played 20 shows there in the ’ 80s, and Pearl Jam brought its 20th- anniversary festival to Alpine in 2011.
But for its 40th anniversary year this summer, the 27,100- capacity Alpine Valley won’t host a single concert. It will be closed for an entire season for the first time in its history.
Jon Reens, the Chicagobased vice president of marketing for Midwest music for Live Nation, which manages Alpine, said the usual acts that swing through Alpine chose to play different venues instead.
“We started in themiddle of 2016 working on the 2017 calendar. We went and discussed with a multitude of artists about playing the building for the first time in their careers, and it was met with universal acclaim,” Reens said. “It just didn’t work out. Artists wanted to play different venues. There was a definite desire with some of the artists to play stadiums. And in some cases, the production didn’t fit in the building.”
Artists and promoters play the venues where they expect to make the most money, said Gary Bongiovanni, editor- in- chief of concert trade publication Pollstar.
Show and attendance numbers at Alpine have been dropping. Three years ago, the venue had just two concerts and canceled a Wiz Khalifa hip- hop package “due to unforeseen circumstances,” a line frequently used to indicate poor ticket sales.
Meanwhile, the Live Nationowned Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island in Chicago was expanded to a 30,000- capacity venue in 2013. This summer it’ll host Alpine regular Dave Matthews, who is taking a break with his band for shows with Tim Reynolds. Live Nation’s other Chicago- area amphitheater, the 27- year- old Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, also booked top summer tours with Depeche Mode, Future, Sam Hunt and Rod Stewart.
The annual Lollapalooza, which relaunched in Chicago’s Grant Park in 2005, attracted 400,000 concertgoers last year. Wrigley Field also will have its busiest concert season yet this summer. Among the 10 headliners: Alpine regulars Zac Brown Band and Jimmy Buffett. Dead & Company, the Grateful Dead spinoff that played Alpine last summer, also opted for the Friendly Confines.