Entire season axed at Outlaw Field in Boise as Idaho Center plans 10 outdoor concerts
If you look at the calendars of Treasure Valley's two great open-air concert venues, it seems like two different worlds exist.
One is hit by a pandemic. Apparently it is not one of them.
On Monday, the Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater in Nampa announced two more shows, bringing the number planned for this season to a healthy 10.
Last week, the Idaho Botanical Gardens in Boise quietly announced that their annual Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series would not be happening at all this year.
10-0? Why the inequality? The reasons are innumerable. Artists who choose not to play. Tours are rerouted. Pandemic regulations in transition. "It's also partly luck in the draw," said Andrew Luther, general manager of the Ford Idaho Center.
But the biggest factor? Infrastructure.
The Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater has a large, permanent stage.
Outlaw Field has a medium-sized piece of grass.
Imagine Dragons performed at Outlaw Field in 2013.
CMoore Concerts, the Boise-based promoter who produces the Outlaw Field series, installs a stage and removes it every summer.
This is a crane. Stagehands. And a respectable price.
To make the series financially viable, Outlaw Field needs at least seven shows, estimates Chris Moore, CEO of CMoore Concerts.
Since that schedule had already shrunk to two or three as a result of the pandemic - and artists around the world were still shaky - moving forward would have been a gigantic risk. Like in Titanic, the sunken ship.
For this reason, CMoore Concerts has moved the August 10th Primus concert from Outlaw Field to the Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater. Outlaw Field's other remaining hopes - Avett Brothers and Slightly Stoopid - have been postponed or canceled until next year. (By the way, don't contact the Idaho Botanical Gardens for ticket refunds. They can't help. Go to CMooreconcerts.com or Ticketmaster.)
In the current touring climate, building a stage for the Outlaw Field series and adding shows at the same time was a risk CMoore Concerts couldn't take.
"We're in the gambling business already, right?" Moore said, adding that he is “completely depressed” that the show won't be bogus this year.
Kenny Chesney grabbed more than 10,000 fans when he performed at the Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater in Nampa in 2018.
For promoters like CMoore Concerts, the last 18 months have been a nightmare. Then there's the Idaho Botanical Gardens budget. According to Executive Director Erin Anderson, the Outlaw Field series accounts for 15 to 20 percent of annual sales in a typical year. The concerts are also an important marketing tool for attracting new Garden members.
The good news? The organizers are determined to revive the Outlaw Field concert series in 2022. "100%," said Anderson. "Absolutely. Without question," added Moore.
Meanwhile, the Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater has an enticing lineup in Canyon County. And while these aren't traditional outlaw field events, the Idaho Botanical Gardens will also host a number of smaller shows.
Later concert season
Live Nation, the world's leading concert promoter, has assembled an impressive array of entertainers at the Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater. Country singer Dierks Bentley begins August 14th. That's an unusually late start for the outdoor concert season, which further illustrates the challenges of the pandemic.
September is highlighted by acts like pop giant Jonas Brothers (Sept 2), old rockers Death Cab For Cutie (Sept 7), and remnants of classic rockers Foreigner (Sept 15).
Bring a jacket in 2021 because the music rolls into fall. Recent announcements at the Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater include hip-hop star Russ (October 3rd) and veteran punk bands Rancid and Dropkick Murphys (October 4th).
Luther, the general manager of the Idaho Center, says there could have been up to 15 amphitheater performances if some hadn't been postponed or canceled. It's a reminder that COVID-19 has messed things up for everyone in the touring business.
“Nobody is immune to this,” said Luther. "Forbid. Us."
And while the Outlaw Field series is on hold, the Idaho Botanical Gardens will not be silent.
In partnership with Duck Club Presents, creators of Treefort Music Fest, the Garden hosts its annual Great Garden Escape shows. They have a long history in the garden and are a combination of local and touring talent.
The Idaho Botanical Garden's Great Garden Escape music series kicks off on June 24th.
Duck Club is also starting a new series called Live on the Lawn. It will - yes - take place on the Outlaw Field. The shows will be relatively intimate. The stage is on the opposite side and is significantly smaller than the normal Outlaw Field setup. The facility can accommodate a maximum of 1,500 people.
Live on the lawn acts will include Boise's own Built To Spill (July 21), Poolside and Brijean (August 4), and Americana duo Watchhouse (formerly Mandolin Orange, August 20). These three shows will likely be the scale of Live on the Lawn, but one more act could be announced.
Boise jazz singer Curtis Stigers will also perform on July 11th.
Will one of these concerts feel like sharing Outlaw Field with 4,000 other Boise music freaks on a hot summer night?
No. But they'll be fun. And I bet we'll see a lot of euphoric sell-offs when the Outlaw Field concert series returns in a year.
“We have already booked shows. We have confirmed shows, ”said Anderson. "I think our 2022 season will likely be bigger and better than any of the previous seasons ..."
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