Alpine Valley was once a major tour stop for popular bands. It’s been 35 years since the venue first opened, and times have changed just a bit. For 2014, we have seen just one concert announcement so far. Kiss with Def Leppard will be coming to East Troy on August 15. Judging by the fact that Dave Matthews has decided to stop at Summerfest, instead of his usual appearance at Alpine, one wonders what other bands will grace the stage of this lovely outdoor venue.
With it’s VIP section, wide open grassy area, and amazing backdrop, one would think that Alpine Valley will stay open for years to come. If the venue doesn’t host at least four shows per year, how can that continue? Live Nation is the current owner, and they certainly have the ability to find talent to book that venue full. Why does it seem that they just can’t get more headline shows to stop there?
Summerfest certainly takes a bite from the competitive concert market. Many headline acts would rather hit the Marcus Amphitheater stage, during one of the ten days that the “Worlds Largest Music Festival” is open. Chicago has their own version of Summerfest, and has also hosted a number of outdoor concerts in the past few years. It’s tough to compete with the “big city” treatment that an artist receives when they come to play in Milwaukee or Chicago. Yes, Alpine Valley is just 45 minutes from either city, and that can also have a negative effect on booking. The competition is certainly stiff.
Finally, there is one factor that looms large, and that’s the logistics of getting in and out of Alpine Valley. We have all heard the stories of people spending three or four hours trying to get out of the grassy parking lots at Alpine Valley. The smart folks find that leaving before the show ends is the best way to get home. If the weather isn’t perfect, a muddy parking lot and slippery grass are what you can expect when you get to the venue. Milwaukee’s Summerfest grounds have ample parking, and even at the worst of times, getting on the road after Summerfest ends is a delay of fractional proportions when compared to leaving East Troy.
Still, there is something magical about sitting on the lawn at Alpine Valley. On a warm summer night, the moon can hang just over the roof of the venue, bathing the hills and trees in a warm glow. That’s when you understand why an Alpine Valley show is so spectacular. Let’s hope that there are more great bands coming to Alpine this season. It would be a shame to see the venue go unused.