Chicago Sun-Times - - CITY BEAT - BY PIET LEVY

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.

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