After being a top-notch music venue for over 35 years, the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre is closing down. This venue has been home to many iconic performers, ranging from Bob Dylan to Michael Jackson to Coldplay and The Grateful Dead.
Irvine Company spokesperson Bill Lobdell, told the Orange County Register that the Irvine Meadows was always supposed to be a transitional space. In 1981, Irvine Company leased 50 acres of land to concert promoters and the company has decided to not renew that lease.
Instead, in its place, the Irvine Company, a privately held real-estate investment company, will build the second phase of the Los Angeles Los Olivos apartments. The intention of this architectural endeavor is for the Los Olivos apartment community to ensure long term economic stability in Los Angeles. While it is an understandable decision in terms of economics, it is a devastating decision in terms of the art community.
The big question now is what will happen to Orange County’s music scene? Although Irvine city leaders are looking into building another outdoor amphitheatre in the Great Park, no headway has been made. Even if they do build a new venue at the Great Park, it won’t be able to makeup for the 35 year history of the Irvine Meadows Ampitheatre.
How is it that we can replace a concert venue that has been a valued token of Orange County with apartments? What does this say about our societal values? Do we really need more apartment buildings? Yes, an influx of revenue is important for a thriving economy, but so is art and music.
The value of creative expression is waning and at the worst time possible. In the midst of such political and global conflict, we could use a little music to help us get through. All forms of art, music especially, are great healing tools. When the world is in turmoil and people feel helpless, they turn to music because when times are hard, music can be the perfect escape.
Editor of Pollstar Gary Bongiovanni was quoted in regards to what will happen to the Orange County music scene saying, “In Southern California, land is so expensive it’s difficult to find a place to put an outdoor facility. To have any shelf life, it has to be somewhere off by itself where noise complaints won’t doom its future.”
It is sad that music, art, and creativity has fallen so low on the list of societal priorities. With this upcoming election, our country is falling into potential embarrassing disrepair and the one thing over the course of our country’s history that has brought us together is art culture.
The Irvine Meadows Ampitheatre isn’t just some concert venue. It’s a place where people can gather together and bond over listening to their favorite bands. The venue is also home to annual events such as Lollapalooza, the Lilith Fair, Area Two Epicenter Festival, HORDE, FishFest, and the belovedKROQ’s Weenie Roast.
“Irvine Meadows has been home to so many KROQ shows, it’s not going to feel right to do the Weenie Roast anywhere else,” said radio talk show host Kevin Ryder. “I really can’t imagine where it’s going to be next summer, and it’s really making us sad. It’s one of the best venues in Southern California.”
Gwen Stefani will be the last to perform at Irvine Meadows. After her show on October 30, the venue will be demolished.
The Irvine Company is making a big mistake getting rid of the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater. While Orange County needs apartments for revenue what it really needs is music. Music is beautiful because it unites and brings people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, religions, and identities together and in this day in age we could use a little more of that.