April 19, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Let Us Gather for Music at the Pier:

A recent article in the Mirror highlighted the fact that it costs an estimated $50,000 a show to put on the free Summer Twilight Concert series at the Santa Monica Pier. In considering that overhead, the inevitable question arose: Is it worth it?

A photo accompanying the article showed a group of music fans sitting down at the Pier for a concert and everyone in the group was grinning from ear to ear. That’s a fair and reasonable piece of evidence to submit for any conversation about the value of the summer concerts: They make people happy. But I’d like to suggest that there are larger stakes involved in sustaining the Twilight Concert Series besides just shaking the air around the beach with an ever-expanding format of music from around the world.

A bandshell in Daytona Beach, Florida, was opened on July 4, 1937. For the sake of argument, let’s say that’s roughly the time that the idea of crowds gathering for free concerts in cities across America took hold. That means that for about 80 years Americans in various cities have been gathering peaceably with their neighbors, tourists, and a general crowd of strangers united by the simple idea of enjoying some free music outdoors.

Much to our shared chagrin, there now are more things to worry about anytime a large crowd of people gathers. I don’t have to give you a litany of what we might call the present-day concerns involved with gathering a large crowd.  It’s possibly interesting to note that EDM concerts have come under scrutiny not because of the inability of large groups of fans to get along with each other in our new age, but because individuals attending those events seem driven to zonk themselves into a dangerous health crisis with drug and alcohol binging.

No such substance abuse problems haunt the Twilight Concert Series at the Pier – although you can almost set your watch to when you might get a contact weed buzz at some shows – because great care is taken in planning the programs. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that there can be a larger problem with crowds getting restless over unengaging opening acts than there is with any sort of overdose injuries.

But money can and does change things. So let me attempt to context what I think are the social benefits of the Pier music series just in case rising costs are stirring thoughts of a cutback in the minds of city movers and shakers.

First of all, the beach is to Santa Monica what the Grand Canyon is to Tuweep, Arizona. It’s our city’s reason for being, and it’s why millions visit and spend money here. Humans want to engage the Pacific Ocean, and that’s what we hope they will do. It’s only logical that an area that is already a gathering place for thousands by day would have a program for entertaining them as the sun goes down, and it shows the good taste and openness of our city to put internationally renowned musical acts on a stage to be enjoyed by all ages.

Secondly, there’s an educational value. Whether Save Ferris and Cibo Matto will in any way open up your world view, I certainly think an hour spent enjoying Mavis Staples or the Ohio Players is an hour well invested in appreciating the pantheon of American popular music. Readers of this column may remember that I thought the Pier series show from Morris Day and The Time was such an exuberant celebration of fun energy that it might have actually had powers of healing. There are music acts that some folks – from various generations – might never experience except as a freebie at the Pier. To me, these pleasant evenings can be the live music equivalent of those “The More You Know” public service spots on NBC. “Kids, talk to your parents about funk music. You’ll be glad you did.”

And then there’s this: Just because it get more expensive and challenging to gather large crowds due to concerns over security and safety doesn’t mean we should let go of the notion that we can still have those gatherings in America. To read about insane acts of homicidal frenzy perpetrated on “soft targets” in other parts of the world scares me just as much as it might you.  But when they shut us down, the insane people win. It’s not an act of courage to go to an event where a lot of strangers have gathered to enjoy something like music surrounded by others we may never meet again, but it is a human need. Our basic humanity is predicated on a shared trust of, well, humanity. (Cue organ intro: Buddy Miles’ “We Got to Live Together.”)

 

Some may say I’ve made too much of a pale shadow of cost hanging over the Pier concerts, but we are all wondering these days if certain simple pleasures are leaving the experience of life because we need to be more cautious and on alert. I think the very thing we need when this feeling grips us is to gather outdoors and boogie. (Feel free to quote me.) I am always bothered by corporate tie-ins to “free” public events, but in the case of the Pier concerts it would be great if somebody enjoying the benefits of Santa Monica’s “Silicon Beach” economic upturn would step in and help keep the music playing at the Pier. I can’t promise you I’ll download your app, but I’ll certainly party with you on the Pier.

in News
Related Posts

Edify TV: $2 Billion Beverly Hills Development Proposed Near Westside

April 16, 2021

April 16, 2021

A developer wants to build a $2 billion condo and retail development flanking the Beverly Hilton hotel. Learn more in...

State Funds Two Additional Sustainable Housing Proposals in Santa Monica

April 16, 2021

April 16, 2021

Proposals are designed to help with affordability and sustainability  By Toi Creel California is paving the way for environmentally-friendly housing...

Santa Monica City Council Rejects Proposed Ban of Certain Items at Protests

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

Lawmakers vote down item 4-3 at meeting this week  By Sam Catanzaro  Santa Monica lawmakers rejected a motion this week...

Edify TV: LAFD Announces Likely Cause of Ballona Wetlands Fire

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

The LAFD has revealed the cause of a March fire that destroyed five acres of the Ballona Wetlands. Learn more...

Shake Shack Set to Open in Santa Monica

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

NYC-based burger chain to open at Wilshire and 5th this weekend By Kerry Slater East Coast burger joint Shake Shack...

Restaurant Spotlight: Piccolo Bringing Fine Italian Dining to Santa Monica and Venice

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

Latest restaurant from Chef Antonio Mure with two locations on Westside  By Timothy Michael An esteemed chef with deep ties...

Edify TV: Venice Handball Courts Encampment Cleared

April 15, 2021

April 15, 2021

Sanitation crews Thursday cleared a homeless encampment at the Venice Beach handball courts. Learn more in this video made possible...

ArcLight Cinema Santa Monica Closing

April 14, 2021

April 14, 2021

Pacific Theatres will not reopen locations across country due to pandemic  By Sam Catanzaro  The 12-screen ArcLight Cinema complex in...

Westside Cafe Helping Save Monarch Butterflies

April 13, 2021

April 13, 2021

This Westside cafe is doing its part to keep its namesake insect, the monarch butterfly, safe. Learn more in this...

Junior Lifeguards Returning This Summer

April 13, 2021

April 13, 2021

County-run program returns to LA County beaches July and August  By Sam Catanzaro A few weeks are left for prospective...

Earth Day Beach Cleanup at Santa Monica Beach

April 13, 2021

April 13, 2021

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism organizing April 22 event  On Earth Day next week join a “micro-cleanup” to help beautify...

Six Vendors Released on Citation for Fight at Santa Monica Pier

April 12, 2021

April 12, 2021

Santa Monica police cite and release six people involved in Sunday incident By Sam Catanzaro Six individuals were released on...

City Council Passes New Measure to Meet State Affordable Housing Mandate: Santa Monica Beat – April, 12, 2021

April 12, 2021

April 12, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * City Council Passes New Measure to Meet State Affordable Housing Mandate...