The No. 10 story in our countdown revisits the excitement of a summer slate of 2021 concerts following a quiet, COVID-impaired 2020 — from the return of Meijer Gardens’ amphitheater to shows across the region.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Local Spins’ coverage of ticket sales at Meijer Gardens — the first such event in two years due to COVID — and a preview of summer concerts across the region captured the attention of a live music-starved readers. It ranked No. 10 on our roster of most-read stories of 2021.
Support our coverage of
West Michigan's music scene
Anyone seeking evidence of the pent-up demand for live music need only examine the scorecard of first-day sellouts of summer concerts at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
After taking a year off due to the COVID pandemic, the outdoor amphitheater on June 26 opened ticket sales for 2021 shows to Meijer Gardens members, who wasted little time targeting their can’t-miss tour stops.
Within 15 minutes of kicking off online and phone sales at 9 a.m., Meijer Gardens had sold out summer concerts by Harry Connick Jr. & His Band (Aug. 9), O.A.R. (Sept. 9) and Blues Traveler with JJ Grey & Mofro (Aug. 18).
By 11:15 a.m., four more shows were sellouts: Kansas (Aug. 6), America (Aug. 11), Indigo Girls (Sept. 2) and Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo (Sept. 16). Mat Kearney (Aug. 13) and Old Crow Medicine Show (Aug. 29) sold out later in the day.
By Monday afternoon, Meijer Gardens officials reported that concerts featuring The Beach Boys (July 26) and Collective Soul (July 25) also had sold out, with Emmylou Harris with Los Lobos (Aug. 8) also nearing sold-out status.
The tickets were sold online and by phone vie Etix.com, the venue’s new ticketing provider. It was the first year that Meijer Gardens didn’t offer in-person sales of tickets on site, thus avoiding the usual lineups of eager fans.
“Things couldn’t have gone more smoothly,” said John VanderHaagen, director of communications, who conceded that first-day sales got off to a “brisk start. … No problems online or by phone.”
The summer’s 28-concert schedule got a late start due to pandemic concerns, with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Grand Rapids Symphony launching the series on July 18. The series closed out two months later with Galactic on Sept. 19.
On July 6, the 1,900-capacity amphitheater presented the first Tuesday Evening Music Club show starring Traverse City indie-folk act The Accidentals and West Michigan Americana band Roosevelt Diggs, hosted by Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Ralston Bowles.
Meanwhile, other concert options across West Michigan — after a nearly silent 2020 — were almost endless for the summer of 2021, with the stars on stage ranging from international phenoms to local favorites.
With Memorial Day weekend serving as the unofficial kickoff to summer fun, organizations and private venues across the state presented a hectic season of concerts — hoping to capitalize on pent-up demand for live music after a COVID pandemic that shuttered most shows for more than year.
Dozens of communities hosted free outdoor concerts on weeknights throughout the summer, with ticketed shows unfurling at large venues such as DTE Energy Music Theatre and Soaring Eagle Casino, as well as small venues such as Blandford Nature Center, Studio Park and Saugatuck Center for the Arts enticing fans.
Look for much of the same, come the summer of 2022.
Copyright 2021, Spins on Music LLC