Some Tough Love for the Devon

Last night I attended the Trace Adkins show at the new Devon Amphitheater and it was an enjoyable night but just didn’t have the energy that the 38 Special concert had. I thought maybe it was just me that noticed it but reading through social media comments, I wasn’t alone.

It’s nothing against Trace Adkins. He sounded terrific, did a good job, and I’m very appreciative that he chose to come to Decatur. I hope he comes back again. My constructive criticism is nothing against him but rather just as a means to help work out some of the kinks of a brand new venue hosting its first sold out concert.

Everything went very smoothly. Having been to the first concert, and experiencing the concert last night, I noticed a lot of improvements have been made to help usher people into the amphitheater more quickly.

Great job!

The staff was friendly and helpful and the crowd that I was around was respectful and appreciative of the event.

Those voicing complaints on social media revolve around the lackluster, diminished energy of the crowd. It wasn’t like that with 38 Special. The crowd stood up several times and sang along, danced, and really got into the music.

One lady in front of me at the 38 Special concert looked like she was straight out of Woodstock, well, 50 years older after the event but she held the peace sign high when they sang, “They take the best year of your life, try to tell you wrong from right, but you walk away with nothing, oh yeah! Teacher, teacher, can you teach me…”

There’s nothing like the energy of social angst.

Maybe the difference is that old rockers, like me, are free spirited liberals and country crowds are more conservative. Maybe I was just surrounded by a bunch of boring Republicans (I couldn’t resist taking that jab) but whatever the case, the energy of the crowd was low.

People barely clapped at was so low. I’m talking lower than Trace Adkins voice. Yeah, THAT low!

I think much of that can be attributed to the seating areas being a lot more cramped so people just sat in their chairs.

Nobody should want to be a jerk and stand in front of the people seated behind them throughout the entire show but to just sit there through the whole thing is really kinda lame and a bit insulting to the performer. Heck, we stand through the music at church and some people even get to waving their hands. For a white church that is like doing back flips and handstands.

Boy, I’m really going to get myself in trouble with this post but anyway…

The management of the Devon is very well aware of these issues and is trying to come up with ways to designate areas where people can stand and dance if they want to and accommodate those that would rather sit. Kudos to them because that’s not an easy task – trying to make everybody happy…yeah that hardly ever happens.

My main issue is safety. I sat on the grassy hill and after the sun went down it was very dark and very hard to navigate to the restrooms or concessions. It was even more difficult to find my way back to my seat because I wasn’t sure exactly where I had been sitting. It was dark and I couldn’t tell. Others had difficulties too.

I used the flashlight on my phone to walk between the rows but those that didn’t have a flashlight really struggled finding their way. Wider rows, some points of reference like light poles or whatever, and/or some ground lighting would help.

Wide aisles for exiting quickly also need to be designated and exits need to be better marked and really more safety exits needs to be installed. While there are many safety precautions in place, we all know the world we’re living in now involves mass shootings. We can’t just assume that it can never happen here.

There is a police presence and everyone is checked before entering but more exits are needed and they need to be very clearly marked, illuminated, and easy to access.

I’m not trying to be paranoid or a scaremonger but we can’t ignore the possibility. It’s something we all have to think about. People need to be able to exit quickly for any type of emergency.

Other than that, I want to stress how impressed I am with the management, staff, and the Devon for their first season. It’s a wonderful asset to Decatur. We’re very lucky to have it. I want to see it continue to succeed as well as the other attractions in Nelson Park. I’m excited for Decatur and thankful for the great effort many have put into bringing the community such wonderful places to visit.

So, just take this as constructive criticism and rock on! I hope to attend more shows next year.

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