Fans of rock and pop will have to wait until the summer of 2005 to see and hear whether Millennium Park lives up to its billing as a first-rate outdoor concert facility.
Though an opening-weekend, three-hour "vignette" concert will showcase a who's who of local talent from hip-hoppers All Natural to Koko Taylor the rest of the year's calendar for the 11,000-capacity venue is notable for the absence of rock, rap and pop acts that might appeal to a younger audience.
That wasn't by design, said Jim Law, executive director of the Mayor's Office of Special Events. "It'd be great to have a continuous flow of music of all varieties," he said. "None of us know what will work on a regular basis. But I think there will be a lot of trial periods."
It could be argued that the checkered history of rock music in Grant Park, from the riot that erupted before a Sly Stone show in 1970 to the Smashing Pumpkins concert that was canceled at the last minute in 1998, has been one long trial period. The Grant Park Orchestra is expected to dominate the summer calendar at Millennium Park, leaving few slots for other concerts. The city's major concert promoters, including Clear Channel and Jam, have had discussions with the city about booking shows at Millennium Park, but nothing has panned out for this year.
"Because of the late opening, it will be real tough to get a show in there," said Scott Gelman, a vice president at Clear Channel. As for having rock concerts at the new facility, Gelman said "the term 'rock concert' needs to be defined by the city, to determine what kind of programming they want in there. I don't know if they've set any ground rules on how hard and progressive they want to go, but we're obviously not going to put Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne in there."
Gelman says the bookings would likely lean toward softer pop and rock performers such as Sting, James Taylor and Josh Groban, given the proximity of local residences to the facility.
Jam's Jerry Mickelson said promoters are looking to next year to book shows at the park. The city, meanwhile, has slated some events designed to draw a younger crowd, including a Wednesday night series of deejay events spotlighting house and electronic music at the southern end of Grant Park. But it appears the city will proceed cautiously before booking anything quite so adventurous at Millennium Park.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times