2012-08-10 / Front Page

Officials adjust concert prep

Two shows remain in Music at the Track series
By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

The stage at Scarborough Downs will host Oxxfest, a hard rock festival on Friday, Aug. 10. The third, and final show, will take place Friday, Sept. 7 and feature classic rock legends ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd. (Michael Kelley photo) The stage at Scarborough Downs will host Oxxfest, a hard rock festival on Friday, Aug. 10. The third, and final show, will take place Friday, Sept. 7 and feature classic rock legends ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd. (Michael Kelley photo) With one concert behind them, public safety officials in Scarborough are making minor tweaks to the traffic and emergency management plans for the two remaining shows scheduled this summer at Scarborough Downs.

In March, the Scarborough Town Council gave Alex Gray, a concert promoter with Waterfront Concert Series, the go-ahead to hold up to five large concerts on the grounds of Scarborough Downs.

The first in the Music at the Track Music Series was held on July 31. The two other concerts scheduled this summer will take place on Friday, Aug. 10 and Friday, Sept. 7.

“It went moderately well,” said Scarborough Fire Chief B. Michael Thurlow of the first concert, which featured rappers Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller. “We were busy though. It was a younger crowd and we did end up servicing and assessing a number of concert-goers.”

Thurlow, who also serves as the town’s emergency management director, said approximately 50 individuals were treated for exhaustion, caused by dehydration and alcohol and marijuana use, including seven who were transported to the hospital.

“A lot was able to be dealt with onsite, but it took a lot of our time and resources,” Thurlow said.

Scarborough Police Chief Robert Moulton said the concert, more or less, went as planned.

“Overall I think it went well. Things went relatively smooth,” he said.

Moulton said aside from the people taken to area hospitals for medical reasons, three people had to be removed from the concert for criminal mischief and alcohol and drug violations.

“It is one of those things that is a work in progress. We are making improvements as we go,” Moulton said.

The concert, which was part of the Under the Influence of Music Tour, featured special guests Kendrick Lamar, Chiddy Bang, School Boy Q and Chevy Woods. It is the first of three concerts that were organized by Alex Gray, a concert promoter with Waterfront Concert Series, which holds shows on the banks of the Penobscot River in Bangor.

“Overall it went well,” Gray said of the concert, which attracted upwards of 6,000 people. “Anytime we go into a new venue we have new groups to deal with … it tends to create obstacles in creating the most successful event possible, but you learn.”

Gray said “things can look good on paper,” but you never really know how things will turn out until the event is actually happening.

“We had a few issues, but nothing insurmountable by any stretch of the imagination,” Gray said.

One thing he said he will work on in the future is the organization and flow of parking on site.

Moulton said security officers were provided to monitor inside the concert venue. Scarborough Police were available on-site if anything got out of control. Police officers also helped to direct traffic and monitored the parking lot as well.

A temporary stage was set up outside the racing facility, with several reserved seat sections surrounding it. Concert-goers didn’t stay in those seats for long. Gray said the seats were eventually removed when people decided they didn’t want to sit, but rather stand up so they could dance closer to the stage. This, Gray said, created a more festive atmosphere.

“The artists were very pleased with how the event went because there was a lot more energy from this crowd than any from the previous five dates,” Gray said.

The Scarborough show was the midway point during the tour’s 11-venue schedule.

“It was a great event and a great start in the Music at the Track series,” Gray said.

This is the second year concerts have been held at Scarborough Downs. Last July, through another concert promoter, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton and Jerrod Niemann played before 10,000 fans as part of the Seacoast Country Music Festival.

A number of issues emerged as a result of the concert—the first held at the harness track facility since 1978 when Blue Oyster Cult played a show on the site. One of the major concerns was traffic congestion from vehicles going to the concert, especially around Payne Road.

Thurlow said congestion was limited this time around.

“It worked better than last year,” Thurlow said of traffic flow. “We didn’t have the backups on Payne Road like we did last time. There is still room for improvement. We will continue working with the concert promoter on that.”

“There were significant improvements over the last show,” Moulton said. “There is still a little bit more tweaking we could do to make the flow of traffic more efficient.”

Moulton said the Wiz Khalifa/Mac Miller concert traffic didn’t have that much of an impact of traffic moving through the area at the time.

“As far as I know, traffic didn’t tie too many folks up on the roadway,” Moulton said.

Moulton said dispatch fielded a number of noise complaints, something that Gray said he is trying to reduce in the future. To that end, Gray said, Waterfront Concerts has hired a sound engineer to measure sound levels at the other concerts this summer to find ways to limit that noise impact.

Gray said he expects the July 31 show to be the most intrusive of the three planned at Scarborough Downs.

“The Wiz Khalifa crowd was probably the least responsible crowd of the three concerts,” he said.

The next show, Oxxfest, is a day-long hard rock music festival scheduled to take place from noon to 10:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10. The festival, which was held in Bangor last year, is a general admission show and features Battlecross; Emmure; Five Finger Death Punch; God Forbid; Killswitch Engage; Pop Evil and Trivium. It will also showcase 10 local bands.

“The reason we do that,” Gray said, “is because it is rare for local bands to have an opportunity to play at a large venue. This is a great opportunity for them to get exposure on a larger level.”

On Friday, Sept. 7, the concert series ends, at least for this year, when classic rock legends ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd take to the stage. Gates open at 5 p.m. and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the concert, part of the Rebels and Bandoleros Tour, are available at waterfrontconcerts.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or at any Ticketmaster outlet location.

Moulton said he has faith that the remaining concerts will also go off with no major issues.

“They have been very cooperative in working with us and people in the community to make sure it is as harmless as can be for those folks who don’t want to go to the concert,” Moulton said.

Gray hopes these concerts are but a few of the shows he is able to bring to the Scarborough Downs property.

“We’re excited to be here and look forward to more concerts,” Gray said.

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