Yes, it is raining, but the summer’s first Canalside Concerts Free Thursdays show will go on.
So, expect Shaggy, Soul Rebels and DJ Milk to take the stage tonight. The only thing that would keep them away is severe lightning in the immediate area.
“We never worry,” Susan Swiatkowski, a spokeswoman for Canalside Concerts, said laughing. “Concerts go on rain or shine. We are prepared for anything.”
While you might need an umbrella and some wellies (it’s pretty muddy near the stage from the rainfall), you won’t have to worry about eating dinner elsewhere. Lots of food will be available at the show, including many local favorite food trucks like Lloyd’s, Amy’s Food Truck and Black Market Food Truck. Global Spectrum, the new company running the weekly events, will offer its own food, as well. Tonight’s menu will feature loganberry barbecue chicken wings.
Swiatkowski said the food options will change from week to week and that Global Spectrum has signed contracts with 60 different vendors to ensure the variety.
In addition to the free Thursday concerts, the Canalside Concerts umbrella name also includes ticketed shows, Battle of the Bands, and a music and dance series on Sundays.
There are a few changes this year. The concerts will now start 30 minutes later, with performances running from 6 to 10 p.m.
And while Thursdays remain free as they have in the past, Global Spectrum has added a new feature this year to the experience: a VIP section.
For $40, you can buy access to the front of the stage, which will be halfway cordoned off for VIP ticket holders tonight. About 150 people are expected to be of VIP status tonight, according to Canalside maintenance workers already setting up for the show. For other shows, this area, which is about 10 to 15 feet deep in front of half of the stage, could span the length of the stage. The VIP ticket also comes with complimentary food and drink, which are being offered in a tent complete with a red-roped entrance on Perry Street.
There will be 250 VIP tickets (some are reserved for sponsors and the like) available to the public on any given Thursday. If you are a huge Shaggy fan, fear not. There still will be access to half of the front of the stage tonight for those without VIP tickets. You can still buy the VIP tickets online and a limited number will be available at the gates.
“ECHDC hired Spectrum to enhance the experience,” said Chris Catanzaro, an assistant project manager with Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. “It’s an a la carte experience,” he explained, adding that there is something for everyone.
Swiatkowski said drinks will be a bit larger this year. Expect to pay $4 for a 16-ounce Labatt beer (Blue, Blue Light and Shandy will all be offered). Craft beers ($6 for a 16-ounce glass) and wine also will be available.
Ryan Coate, Global Spectrum’s general manager for Canalside, pointed to another fenced off area closer to the water and said that Labatt will be offering a surprise there at 8 tonight.
“Make sure you are here at 8. You won’t want to miss it,” he said.