When Irvine meadows Amphitheatre to be demolished in 2017, the city shed a landmark that had actually been a musical, cultural and social hub for generations that locals. The wrecking ball also ushered in established efforts by both regional music fans and venue operator Live nation to retain a major outdoor music meet in the area. These are currently evidenced by a nearby interim replacement for the Meadows, FivePoint Amphitheatre, i m sorry was rapidly erected nearby to the Orange County great Park.

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Photo through Dennis Guerrero because that DSG


In the decade between Irvine gift formally included in 1971 and the opened of the 16,000-capacity Irvine grasslands in September of 1981, the city’s population skyrocketed 800 percent, and that of bordering Orange County thrived by an ext than a third. O.C. To be coming out of the zero of adjacent Los Angeles, and also the top-tier concert tours and music festivals organized at the meadows were one an ext affirmation that the area had “arrived.”

“Irvine Meadows defined Orange County and the music scene,” said lengthy Beach producer/musician Billy Mohler, who thrived up in Laguna Beach. “It proved what was feasible and brought renowned artists to ours backyard. Even if it is you lived in Laguna, Irvine or san Clemente, anyone felt Irvine meadows was your venue.”

When the Meadows’ floor lease expired in 2017, owners the Irvine firm did not renew, instead opting to build apartments top top the site. The last shows at the venue, on October 29 and 30, 2016 were accordingly headlined by Anaheim’s Gwen Stefani, v Irvine band Young the large as support. The following month the storied amphitheater, O.C.’s very first major venue, was unceremoniously flattened.

was so much fun and also close to home,” recalled Christine Kleile Martin, a Pet treatment Rep who lived in Irvine indigenous 1977-2010. “I appreciated it gift outside and also if girlfriend didn’t desire to pay for the an ext expensive seat … you could sit ~ above the lawn.”

Yet all was not lost for area music fans. An upsurge of enthusiasm to maintain a considerable music meet in the area coagulated into the save Live Music Irvine ar group which, v the backing of previous Irvine Meadows operator Live Nation, was able to convince the city of Irvine to erect FivePoint Amphitheatre on 44 acres of privately-owned land much less than two miles native the site of the old venue. Not even a year after Stefani’s tremulous final notes faded native Irvine Meadows, FivePoint Amphitheatre opened on October 5, 2017 (with Young the large this time headlining proceedings). The idea was for Live country to run the amphitheatre v 2020, while plans because that a long-term venue in ~ the great Park solidify.


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Photo by Dennis Guerrero because that DSG


“It was incumbent on us at Live country to come up through a setup that would save live music growing in Irvine,” explained Brad Locker, vice president of marketing because that Live nation L.A., who began his job in 1995 as a marketing intern at Irvine Meadows.

Locker says that Live nation gave “a small backbone” to conserve Live Music Irvine after ~ noticing the necessary groundswell of community support because that retaining a major concert to meet in the area.

“That type of ended up being a voice for people who wanted to, choose us, make certain that there to be a plan going forward to ensure the they would still have the ability to come out and also see world-class talent in a market that has actually a sizeable population – and, frankly, needs it,” Locker continued.

In many ways, the more intimate and flexible 12,000-seat FivePoint Amphitheatre – named for that developers, FivePoint, which has designed mixed-use, master-planned communities up and down the California coast – is a remarkable venue come the old Irvine meadows (which was well-known as Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, 2000-2014). However the semi-rural, hill-hugging layout that Irvine Meadows, while not completely practical, is nonetheless hard to replicate.

“You were surrounded by nature. … the in itself made the meet unique,” recalled Mohler, who saw everyone from Anthrax and also Ice Cube come Ziggy Marley and The Jesus and Mary Jane at Irvine Meadows. “The distinctive seating plan was awesome! seat cascading under the hillside, with a big general-admission grassy knoll in ~ the an extremely top.”

Mohler is no alone in having tales of local teens, that were acquainted with the neighboring terrain, sneaking into the venue v its top knoll, their price of admission paid only in toxicity oak.

“If Irvine grasslands was no there, I certainly would not have seen as countless concerts,” said Kleile Martin, that saw the likes that Bon Jovi, the grateful Dead, Metallica and also Iron Maiden at the venue. “I have actually been come the L.A. Forum, L.A. Coliseum and also Long coast Arena, but always enjoyed the concert at Irvine grasslands better.”


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Photo by Dennis Guerrero because that DSG


What FivePoint Amphitheatre lacks in brick-and-mortar solidity and natural charm is compensated for by its smaller size and also thoughtful layout. The furthest of that is bleacher-style seats from the phase are significantly closer to the action than those the Irvine Meadows, and also its functional design allows it to it is in tailored to separation, personal, instance artists and also their fans.

“For some shows at FivePoint Amphitheatre we recognize that we have actually kind the a more active, wants-to-dance, party sort of crowd, therefore we deserve to do the entire front ar as basic admission,” stated Locker. “Sometimes we can have a present that lends itself more to gift seated, and we deserve to do the entire thing seated. Us can uncover a center ground, where component of that is sit and component of that is general admission.”

By contrast, Irvine Meadows readily available only a an extremely modest general-admission pit area, holding roughly 200 fans, nevertheless of that was performing. Nonetheless, the venue attracted in civilization from all over SoCal who can otherwise have actually never visited Irvine, attracting together it did also tours that skipped Los Angeles – a role that any brand-new permanent venue will certainly hopefully continue.

“When i was young, the grasslands weren’t bad, since I no drinking and didn’t need to worry about the lines,” remembered call Foster, a tough rock aficionado indigenous Sylmar who attended KROQ Weenie Roasts and Pantera, Foo Fighters and also Sepultura concert at the old venue, and has checked out Slayer at FivePoint Amphitheatre. “But as an adult, the restroom instance was no accommodating come a sold-out show. … By the moment you got back to her area in the hill you’d have to piss !”

Foster recalls impatient Meadows patrons just urinating v its earlier fence. Through contrast, FivePoint Amphitheatre boasts reasonably convenient (albeit portable) restrooms ~ above both political parties of that is concession circle. Additionally, those concessions space unusually in-touch and also imaginative, last year boasting handle Box tacos from height Chef alum Brian Huskey, noodles and also dumplings from Ms. Chi cafe (Shirley Chung/Top Chef), plus inventions from cook Freddy Vargas (Scarpetta/The Ponte) and a rotation that O.C.’s ideal food trucks.

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additionally has a really unique space: The ago lawn and also the concourse area there is substantial and permits us to entertain the pan in a different way,” Locker explained. “We have actually a bunch the party games. … occasionally we’ll bring out a run floor and a deejay. enables people to spread out out and sit down and relax before a show, in almost like a ar setting.”

As well together top-notch programming – i beg your pardon this summer consists of Fishfest, Beck and also Cage the Elephant, and two nights that the Zac Brown band – Locker said that Live country has endeavored come carry-over Irvine Meadows’ welcoming aura into FivePoint Amphitheatre “in terms of being friendly to our fans and also making sure that our staff is knowledgeable and able come direct human being in a means that enhances the experience.”

In the much longer term, Locker expresses an enthusiasm for Live country serving O.C. Music fans which bodes well for the enduring presence of a major outdoor to meet in the Irvine area.

“We have established that Orange county is a tremendous concert market, where human being tend to support and also go out to more events than in other markets nationally,” the concluded. “We room at occupational on a separate permitting process to develop a irreversible amphitheatre in Irvine, likely near the site of FivePoint Amphitheatre. We hope to share more news around that soon.”