Music Notes: Live concerts, yes, actual outdoor concerts, are back in Atlanta

Four-time Grammy winner and former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit played the first of two sold out Fox Theatre shows Thursday night, February 8, 2018. Photo: Robb Cohen Photography & Video /RobbsPhotos.com
Four-time Grammy winner and former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit played the first of two sold out Fox Theatre shows Thursday night, February 8, 2018. Photo: Robb Cohen Photography & Video /RobbsPhotos.com

Credit: Robb Cohen

Credit: Robb Cohen

Jason Isbell, Indigo Girls, Big Boi among the offerings in October.

For the past six months, I’ve joked that I now know what it’s like to live like a “normal” person who finishes work in the early evening, has dinner at home with my spouse — which, yeesh, I usually cook — and then sits on the couch and watches TV or reads.

And now that I know how “normal” people live, I can unequivocally say that it’s not a conducive lifestyle for someone whose entire adult life has been spent covering concerts, working late nights, grabbing a concession stand item that masquerades as a meal and being fueled by the energy of the arts.

But for the next couple of weeks, my life — and yours, too, depending upon your pandemic comfort level — will resemble a fraction of normalcy thanks to a spate of live performances scheduled outside at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta (in Lot A) and Centennial Olympic Park, as well as a second indoor performance at the Coca-Cola Roxy. (That venue resumed operation last week with a concert by Fleetwood Mac tribute band, Rumours, and will host the Allman Betts Band on Oct. 29.)

The amphitheater shows, which kick off Oct. 16 with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, are under the “Live From the Drive-In” banner from Live Nation, which has presented similar productions in other markets the past few months. Also, we can only applaud Atlanta’s Street Execs, who launched a hip-hop drive-in concert series in June, first at Murphy Park Fairgrounds and currently at the Gateway Center Arena parking lot. The Oct. 17 show will be headlined by Gucci Mane.

ExploreParking lot, remote concerts the new normal for live music — for now

The array of amphitheater performances are aimed at fans of rock and pop; the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will also mix in with a few symphonic rock shows.

Then, the weekend of Oct. 23, Rival Entertainment is staging the “Big Night Out,” a three-day festival at Centennial Olympic Park — which remains closed to the public and is only opening for special events such as this — that will kick off with Moon Taxi and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong.

Here is your full lineup of shows, along with details about the setup.

“Live From the Drive-In” sets up in Alpharetta

Each concert will accommodate about 500 cars, with each given a space for the vehicle and an adjoining space for room to hang out. Tickets are sold per car, with a max capacity of four people per vehicle. Unless otherwise noted, gates open at 6 p.m. with showtime at 8 p.m. Health and safety precautions — including hand sanitizer stations and a mask requirement when leaving your allotted space — will be enforced. Guests are allowed to bring chairs, food and drinks; a small menu of food items and non-alcoholic drinks will also be available for ordering.

Visit livenation.com/drivein to purchase tickets (which will only be sold in advance).

Emily Saliers (left) and Amy Ray (right) released a new album this year, "Look Long." Photo: Jeremy Cowart
Emily Saliers (left) and Amy Ray (right) released a new album this year, "Look Long." Photo: Jeremy Cowart

Oct. 16: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, sold out (livestream available for $19.95)

Oct. 17: Blackberry Smoke, $169-$189 (all prices are per car)

Oct. 18, 6 p.m. (gates at 4:30 p.m.): Music of Led Zeppelin with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Brent Havens), $100-$175

Oct. 22: Smith & Myers of Shinedown, $150-$225

Oct. 23: Indigo Girls, $399-$550

Oct 24: Yacht Rock Revue, $279-$400

Oct. 25, 6 p.m. (gates open at 4:30 p.m.): Music of David Bowie with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, $100-$175

Oct. 26: Old Crow Medicine Show, $150-$250

And at Centennial Olympic Park

The concept for the “Big Night Out” was inspired by a story and photos that many music fans viewed with a sigh of longing — pods erected for an outdoor show in Newcastle, England.

Josh Antenucci, senior partner at Rival Entertainment, said discussions started over the summer to hold an event with a similar setup in Atlanta, and the space afforded at Centennial Olympic Park — especially with only 2,500 tickets (i.e., 10% capacity) being sold for each night, Oct. 23-25 — proved ideal.

The pods will hold four or six people — no individual tickets will be available — and allow fans enough room to dance outside or within the pod. A six-foot walkway will also be stationed between each pod to provide further distance; guests are allowed to bring soft camping chairs and blankets.

Big Boi fronted the Dungeon Family Reunion Tour at the Fox Theatre on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Big Boi will be joined by KP the Great and other friends for his Oct. 25 show. Photo: Robb Cohen Photography & Video /RobbsPhotos.com
Big Boi fronted the Dungeon Family Reunion Tour at the Fox Theatre on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Big Boi will be joined by KP the Great and other friends for his Oct. 25 show. Photo: Robb Cohen Photography & Video /RobbsPhotos.com

“We are providing an outlet for live music, for people who need it to come and consume it in an open-air environment like they’ve loved it before,” said Antenucci. “This is not a substitute for what we used to know, but it is the very best and very safest way we have conjured up to deliver that live experience.”

Temperature checks, facemask requirements in public areas and touchpoint handwashing and sanitation stations will be part of each show. (Visit bignightoutatl.com for full safety guidelines.)

The “Big Night Out” will also offer a cashless environment with local food truck operators as well as in-pod drink delivery via the Noble app. (Menus will be available for advance ordering.)

The lineup, said Antenucci, was curated with a few criteria.

“We identified a pool of talent that was ready and excited to perform and we recognized that going to a live event isn’t everyone’s cup of tea right now, so we wanted to appeal to a wide base of people who really love music,” he said.

Gates open at 5:30 p.m. for 7 p.m. showtimes. Visit bignightoutatl.com to purchase tickets.

Oct. 23: Moon Taxi and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, $50-$100 (all prices are per person)

Oct. 24: Marcus King Trio and Futurebirds, $50-$100

Oct. 25: Big Boi and Friends featuring KP The Great, $50-$125

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