FivePoint Amphitheatre arrives
Interim Amphitheatre debuts
Less than a year after the closure of Irvine Meadows, a new live music venue debuts in Orange County
Kedric Francis |October 1, 2017
When the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre closed permanently last October, music fans mourned. The outdoor amphitheater had been part of summer in Orange County for 35 years. But even as the last few notes from Gwen Stefani’s final performance at the venue faded into the Irvine night, a plan was in place to keep live music playing in the city.
Now, less than a year after that last show, the next era of outdoor concerts in Orange County will commence with the debut of the new FivePoint Amphitheatre.
The headliner of the first concert on Oct. 5 will be Young the Giant, a band born in Irvine. There will be two more shows in the first season: 95.9/FM The Fish’s Fish Family Night on Oct. 6, and JACK 93.1/ FM’s 12th Show on Oct. 7, with a full season planned for next summer.
The new interim amphitheater is the result of a collaboration between Live Nation Entertainment and FivePoint, and was approved unanimously by the Irvine City Council on March 14, 2017.
The 12,000-seat venue near the Irvine train station is intended as a temporary solution to replacing Irvine Meadows, with a larger permanent amphitheater proposed to be part of the Orange County Great Park.
For more about the new amphitheater and the importance of live music in Irvine, here are comments from Sameer Gadhia, lead singer of Young the Giant, Emile Haddad, chairman and CEO of FivePoint, and Bret Gallagher, president of Southern California Live Nation.
Q How was LiveNation able to open a new venue less than a year after Irvine Meadows closed?
A Bret Gallagher: We worked really hard with FivePoint and with the city of Irvine. Live Nation has the expertise. We do shows in fields. We do shows in stadiums. We do shows in amphitheaters. We have the technology and we have the right people in place who can make things happen. But if you don’t have the site, you don’t have the venue. So a lot of the credit obviously goes to FivePoint. First of all, they had the land. That helps. But Emile and his team had the vision to keep everyone’s live music dreams alive.
What does it mean for Young The Giant to headline the new amphitheater in Irvine?
Sameer Gadhia: We are a product of Irvine. All of our parents traveled from around the world to raise us there because of its school system. In these schools, we all learned instruments through the music departments. We met through the strong local music scene in high school. Irvine is a gem: a place where people of all religions, races, and cultures meet to achieve their dreams. We have stayed true to our Irvine roots because we believe in the power of its community. We want to show the world the power of Irvine’s art and music scene. Hopefully this show, and all future shows at FivePoint Amphitheatre, will send this message.
Why was it important for FivePoint to be part of the effort to replace Irvine Meadows?
Emile Haddad: It goes to the heart of what we believe, that the most important role that we at FivePoint play is connecting people with each other. We believe what makes communities great is diversity and inclusivity. Music venues are places where friendships for life get made. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, when you’re enjoying live music and celebrating your favorite artists you’re going to be dancing with the person next to you. When people have those moments, they connect in ways that are very unique.
Relationships that are the strongest and last the longest are the ones that get established at the moments of celebration. I believe that very strongly, and I don’t believe there is a better place to find that than a live music venue.
Why does Irvine need an outdoor concert venue?
Gadhia: Growing up, Irvine Meadows was a window to the outside world for all looking for c ulture and different viewpoints, to convene with friends and be a par t of musical history. As the venue achieved international acclaim over the course of the years, bigger and bigger acts graced its stage, which motivated the local music scene to strive for greatness by example. It is important that Irvine can remain a part of the conversation, and an outdoor venue achieves that.
There will be shows on Oct. 5, 6, and 7. Next season will be a full season. Why is it important to have shows this year?
Gallagher: You don’t want to lose momentum. It was important for us to put shovels in the ground, build our temporary amphitheater and open the doors for a couple shows this year to show people we can deliver what we said we would deliver, a temporary amphitheater on this site. Then we’ll come back bigger and better for next year, next season.
Haddad: First, it was very important, while the emotions were high about losing Irvine Meadows, to turn that momentum around into something that pushes boundaries, and that’s why we ended up not missing a season. And second, for us as a company, we always talk about raising the bar, and this was another way to challenge ourselves and deliver.
What differences might concertgoers notice about the new FivePoint Amphitheatre?
Gallagher: You’re going be very close to the artist, in a beautiful setting. There’s going to be places to stretch out on the grass. There’s going to be places to eat and drink. But I think, once they get in their seat to watch the show, they’re going to be really blown away by the intimacy of the venue.
What about access?
Gallagher: The way that Irvine Meadows was laid out, the climb from the parking lot down to the creek up to your seats was quite a distance. That’s one of the beauties of this location. You’re right there. We’ll have parking for 4,000 cars on-site. We’ll have access from the train station up and going. We’ll have dedicated Uber and Lyft drop-off and pick-up points. And plus the parking. Every way that people want to come to see the shows they can get there, whether by train, by Uber, by driving. It’ll be fun.
How have Irvine and OC evolved in terms of music and arts since you grew up here?
Gadhia: Even though we don’t live in Orange County anymore, we still have strong ties to the music scene, which is growing into a beautifully diverse tapestry. There are many unique narratives to be gleaned from suburbia. We have a platform to tell our tales. Great bands arise and influence other bands to do the same, until we have what we see now.
Can you describe how music and culture fit in with FivePoint’s philosophy about community building?
Haddad: We model our communities after great cities. What makes great cities so magical is the fact that a city is a melting pot of everything. People come from every walk of life. There’s food, music and art. Culture and music are part of what makes us well. When you look at the faces in the audience at a concert, they’re all repeating the words of the same song. Music is universal.
How will you celebrate opening night at the new amphitheater?
Gallagher: I love live music. I love being in the business. And I just love when the band gets onstage, cranks the amp up to 11, and hits that first chord. I see the celebration of the people as they jump to their feet. That’s the moment for me.