Upstate, NY has no shortage of decent music venues. From the capital’s Times Union Center to Clifton Park’s dive-y Upstate Concert Hall, the talent that comes here doesn’t totally suck. We’ve had Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, Kanye West (sort of) and then your ol’ classics like Bruce Springsteen, Earth, Wind & Fire and Lynyrd Skynyrd to reward our parents after dropping us off at risqué concerts during our teen years.
But what could be considered the most promising venue of all, Saratoga Performing Arts Center –a beautiful, grassy outdoor space in the heart of Saratoga Springs, continually rolls out the most unpromising lineup summer after summer.
The performers seemed acceptable when we were just high schoolers, eager to sip Four Loko out of a water bottle while chasing your crush around and trying to keep your crop top from falling down. But now that us loyal SPAC-goers are grown, what’s the point of spending money on these lackluster shows?
Most of us from the 518 can guess the lineup before it even comes out because it’s the same year after year. Dave Matthews Band is always on the list (unfortunately by popular demand) and then a whole slew of outdated acts like Train or OAR. People who haven’t made good music in literally decades or, ever. Tickets aren’t cheap, costing you somewhere around $40-55, and the crowd that turns up for this level of talent doesn’t always prove to be the best company.
And with tickets that pricey, it’s hard to even justify the $14 Bud Light Lime tall boy you’d need to keep your buzz going through the rest of the concert, especially after your parking lot tailgate comes to an abrupt halt as you avoid being trampled by law enforcement on horseback.
So, what’s on the SPAC menu for this year? And why is it so terrible?
Dave Matthews + Tim Reynolds, June 16 & 17
NOOOOOOOOO. Bros in jerseys. One night of inevitable pouring rain. High schoolers throwing up over the fence after smoking pot for the first time. A mile-long McDonald’s drive-thru line after the show. All while being serenaded by the 50-something singer and guitarist who has been threatening every year that it’s his last tour when really he’s got dozens more in store. It’s not a good sign that yet again, Dave Matthews is still the highlight to kick off the summer season. Just look at this crowd! The worst.
Train, ft. OAR and Natasha Bedingfield, June 18
It’s not Train’s fault they were around before Google, but they’re probably kicking themselves for naming their band a word so commonly used to NOT describe a band.
Impossible to search these guys without providing some context for what you’re actually looking for. Since 1993, these dorky bros have been making music which is also known as my entire life. They had two one-hit wonders in 1996 and 1998 (the latter being the year Google was founded) and have been so completely stagnant since then. But no worries! Train continues to perform with other passé acts and woo the crowds with their feel-g00d tracks, most commonly played when the credits roll at a PG-rated movie.
P.S. Natasha Bedingfield and OAR? These artists are also past their prime, which came in the form of The Hills theme song music on MTV for Natasha and honestly I can’t even think of OAR’s prime…woof.
Third Eye Blind, July 1
Another American rock band formed in San Francisco in 1993 — just like our friends from Train. Ugh!!!!! This is not a coincidence. The band’s first hits came just a few years later in 1997 and literally no one can name more recent music from 3EB. They covered our middle school angst years, gave us some good sing-a-longs but only God knows why just now they’re promoting a self-titled album and continue to hit the road on tour. Is the above photo from 1997 or 2017? We’ll never tell…
These are just a few of the depressingly outdated performances that will grace the stage at SPAC this year. Other than John Mayer-affiliated Dead & Company (June 20) and everybody’s summer favorite Zach Brown Band (Sept. 2), this summer is a total snooze fest. It’s only a matter of time until the Kidz Bop Tour tickets go on sale and the Top 40 Summer Jam comes to town, which might actually be the best show of the summer. In an era where amazing artists get discovered every day through YouTube and reality TV shows, how is it even possible that SPAC is still giving these old groups center stage?