From the gleaming trusses of the stage spread a sea of blankets, umbrellas, coolers, lawn chairs and people.
Not unusual for Concerts In the Park, a free summer music series put on by the City of Santa Clarita, but last Saturday night, the sea included wave after wave after wave of music fans as far as the eye could see.
With an estimated attendance of 10,000 it just might have been the biggest crowd gathered for a single concert ever in Santa Clarita.
“When you perform, you always concentrate on the front, the people right there,” said Jeff Vincent, local resident and keyboardist for Don’t Stop Believin’, the Journey tribute band that played Central Park that night. “Every time I’d look back, I got a little nervous. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, it a massive wall of people looking back”
Concerts In the Park started in 1990 and before the opening of Central Park, bands used to be featured at various parks around the city on Sunday nights. It quickly became a popular family activity. When Central Park opened, with much more parking and open space, the concerts were moved to Saturday nights and solidified their spot as a “must do” event on everyone’s summer calendar.
Saturday’s attendance was estimated on social networking sites at 10,000, but without chairs and assigned seating, it’s hard to get an actual count, said Mike Fleming, of the city’s Arts and Events Office, which coordinates the concerts.
“This was definitely the biggest one we’ve seen in recent history but it’s hard to tell exactly how many people were there,” Fleming continued. “We’re conservatively guessing about 9,000. Everybody definitely felt it was a success, fields 1 and 2 were packed and field 3 where kids usually play soccer had people all over it. It’s great that people enjoy the music and going out to socialize with their neighbors.”
Last year’s performance by Queen Nation – another tribute band that, ironically, has shared the bill with Don’t Stop Believin’ at The Grove – reportedly pulled in 9,000 fans.
“We were so happy and thrilled at the people’s response,” Vincent said. “It was not hard to have a good time with them because they were so engaging. Sometimes that really makes or breaks a show.”
There are two more concerts in the series; this Saturday, Lisa Hayley and the Zydecats will play and August 29, the Boogie Knights will take the stage to close the season.
Performance photos courtesy Richard Ray Soto