By Emma Silvers
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Seeking to capitalize on dance music's massive appeal, Live Nation planned to hold the first-ever I Love This City fest in the parking lots of San Francisco's AT&T Park this Friday and Saturday. But earlier this month, citing "production difficulties," the promoter announced that it would relocate the event — whose headliners include international superstar DJs like Tiësto, David Guetta, and Steve Aoki — to Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, about 36 miles outside of the city proper.
Ticketholders can arrange a free shuttle from the original location to Shoreline and back, but that didn't quell the complaints of many who'd shelled out $150 or more expecting to show their affection for San Francisco from inside the city limits. "Already got my refund," one commenter wrote on All Shook Down, SF Weekly's music blog, the day the news hit. Reactions on Twitter were snarkier but no more forgiving: "I guess it's 'I Love the Peninsula' now," one Twitter user wrote. "Game Over!" wrote another.
Mountain View, CA 94043
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Region: Mountain View
Some speculated that lower-than-expected ticket sales pushed Live Nation to move the fest from the lot — which it would have had to rent from the Giants — to Shoreline, which the promotion giant already operates.
But organizers say they went for the last-minute relocation in order to create the event that they'd dreamed of, rather than one that required too many compromises. "We're bringing everything we intended to bring to AT&T Park to Shoreline," says Rose Kirkland, the Live Nation talent buyer who booked the dozens of acts on the lineup and maintained them all through the switch. (She and other Live Nation representatives declined to discuss tickets sales or release figures.) "Our reason for moving, at the end of the day, is that we did not feel we would be able to create the right vibe and experience, production-wise. Our main production concerns related to the lot revolved around the site layout. Moving to Shoreline allows us to provide a better vibe, flow, and energy, which is paramount for this type of event."
Though the festival will no longer happen within the urban environs of one of the country's densest burgs, promoters say they aren't giving up plans to honor the city by the bay.
"It's taking place in the Bay Area, and we're still going to be celebrating San Francisco," says Jodi Goodman, president of Live Nation's Northern California branch. "Part of our production speaks to that. Also, a lot of our imagery is around how we all love the city, and there's no reason that any of that is going to change."
The festival's three stages, instead of being divided among AT&T Park's flat lots, will now occupy more varied terrain. This includes Shoreline's main bowl and lawn areas, and two other stages. Promoters say I Love This City will utilize more and different areas of the venue parking lot than any previous event, in order to avoid some previous problems with overlapping sound. The addition of art installations and live action, including 80 acrobats, dancers, and other performers from S.F.'s Vau de Vire Society, should add lots of visual stimulation to the music.
While an event of this nature and magnitude might have been risky a couple of years ago, Live Nation is confident in placing its big bets on electronic dance music right now. I Love This City SF also has a sister event of the same name in San Diego later in the weekend that features many of the same performers.
"The difference between now and even two years ago is monumental," says Kirkland. "There were plenty of electronic music festivals even five years ago, but they were much more underground. Now, we are doing an electronic music festival and we have radio spots on every regular radio station that's out there right now. There is a much larger group of people who are focused on this music right now. It's hitting younger people, older people, it's so much more in the public eye than it used to be, and I think in a much different way. It is moving away from something that was looked at in more of a negative light to something that is for everybody."
Goodman says Live Nation is open but not committed to continuing the idea of I Love This City as an annual event, but the company does plan to produce more electronic dance music events. Next up is this year's installment of the dance-centric Identity Festival, the date and early details of which will be released at I Love This City.
The move to Shoreline in some ways made I Love This City more accessible: Bottom-rung ticket prices were reduced from $150 for a two-day pass to $99 for a two-day pass; single-day passes are now $50 for Friday and $60 for Saturday. The move also means that patrons 16 and over are able to attend, broadening what would have been an 18 and over event in San Francisco.
"I think that it's really important to let the younger generation of electronic music fans experience something like this," says Kirkland. "We're always trying to open up our shows to as many people as possible to experience the music."
Even if it means riding a shuttle bus to celebrate San Francisco from afar.