Welcome to a new era in Long Island concert-going.
The ambitious launch this fall of the Paramount Theatre in Huntington, along with changes at various area venues, is expected to make Long Island a top-tier tour destination once again.
"Artists weren't skipping Long Island because they didn't like Long Island," says Brian Doyle, an artist manager who is one of the principals behind the Paramount. "They were skipping Long Island because they had no place to play. . . . We're so proud of what we have built. It's a way of bringing great entertainment to this area."
It has long been one of the weird glitches in the concert industry that Long Island has been considered a second- or even third-tier market, despite the 3 million folks who live in Nassau and Suffolk counties and their much-better-than-average income levels. Instead of offering concerts to Long Islanders with as little travel as possible, the way they would to music fans in, say, Minneapolis or Omaha or Cleveland, promoters have asked them to travel into Manhattan or even New Jersey to see up-and-coming acts and arena veterans looking for a more intimate space.
That's all about to change. When The Paramount opens Sept. 30 with a rare Long Island appearance from Elvis Costello, it will kick off a slate of shows that normally would have passed the area by.
Indie-rock pioneers The Pixies have slotted Huntington on its "Lost Cities" tour -- places they have not yet played in their last few years of near-constant touring -- on Nov. 5. Irish pop-rockers The Script will make their Long Island debut Oct. 14, while hot up-and-comer and likely Grammy hopeful Amos Lee will make his first headlining area appearance on Oct. 29.
The Paramount fills a longtime void in the Long Island concert market, with its 1,555-person capacity. That's a size that newcomers looking to establish themselves seek, one that has served venues like Irving Plaza in Manhattan well.
Doyle says The Paramount -- which is at the same address as the former Inter-Media Art Center, but has expanded to the larger, more desirable size through renovation and the takeover of a neighboring storefront -- hopes to change the way Long Islanders go to concerts.
"I want people to know that they don't have to go to the city to see these kind of bands," says Doyle, a Long Islander himself. "They're going to be able to come to a world-class venue to see them, and it's right here in their backyard."
Even potential competitors see the arrival of The Paramount as a positive development for the area. "It gives the area something that it's definitely been lacking," says Rick Eberle, CEO of PopCore Entertainment and publicist for Loaded, which brings in concerts at The Crazy Donkey in Farmingdale and Ollie's Point in Amityville. "It's bringing Elvis Costello to Long Island. How great is that?"
Eberle says that if The Paramount succeeds, it will raise the profile of all the venues in the area as they compete for national tours. Its size keeps it from taking business from the larger NYCB Theatre at Westbury and the smaller Crazy Donkey. "We can all play nice in the sandbox together," Eberle says.
These changes come at a time when Long Island's other venues -- from the massive Nassau Coliseum to the smaller theaters such as Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington (which will host the Grammy-winning Indigo Girls Oct. 16) and the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (which will launch a Breakout Artist Series Oct. 8 with the great singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur) -- are seeing an uptick.
Nassau Coliseum, for example, has benefited from renovations at Madison Square Garden, bringing in the only New York-area appearances of Britney Spears and Katy Perry. Ollie's Point in Amityville has plans this fall to step up to try to fill the hole in the Long Island music scene created when the beloved club The Downtown closed in 2005.
Doyle says he wants the venue to also aid the Long Island music scene, planning events for local bands, as well as children's music, jazz and even lectures to make The Paramount's offerings well-rounded.
He laughs at the idea that the Paramount may have eased into its schedule, rather than quickly launching into a full slate the way it has. "We wanted to go ahead and make the commitment," Doyle says, adding that advance ticket sales for the venue's shows have been strong. "We believe Long Island is going to go ahead and embrace this venue. The initial stage has gone amazingly well, and we think it will only get better once people can come experience the venue. . . . We plan to be here forever."
14 must-see fall concerts
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (Sept. 20 and 21 at Irving Plaza)
Electro-pop pioneers Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys were thrilling last winter in their first American tour in 23 years, mixing classics like "If You Leave" with songs from their strong comeback album, "The History of Modern." After that show, McCluskey promised, "We'll be back soon." Glad to see he's kept his word.
Not only have Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters turned in one of the year's best albums, "Wasting Light," but their fiery live show and exasperating (yet hilarious) videos reflect these uncertain, overextended times very well.
Foster the People (Sept. 27-28 at Terminal 5)
The band's unassuming, Beck-ish "Pumped Up Kicks" has loped its way into summer anthem contention and an unlikely but possible shot at No. 1 on the pop charts. The band's live show and the rest of its "Torches" album is new-new-wavier and far fizzier, as the follow-up "Helena Beat" shows.
Blake's eponymous debut, with its streamlined, economical lyrics and compelling synthesizer soundscapes, has introduced a lot of America to the British phenomenon of dubstep, especially in song of the year contender "The Wilhelm Scream." He applies all those atmospherics to his live show to offer something new there, too.
Jack's Mannequin (Oct. 12 at Paramount Theatre)
Andrew McMahon is on the edge of a breakthrough with his upcoming "People and Things" album, judging from the solid piano-driven power pop of the first single "My Racing Thoughts." The catchy anthem should fit nicely with Jack's Mannequin's set of emotional sing-alongs and driven rockers.
Wild Flag (Oct. 18 at Bowery Ballroom)
The indie-rock supergroup -- featuring Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinney, Helium's Mary Timony and The Minders' Rebecca Cole -- lives up to its pedigree on its fiery debut. The group's live show, especially rocking out to the epic "Glass Tambourine," is a must-see event as well.
Let's be honest. Who can't use a disco-steeped, big-grooved night of escapism these days? No matter how bad things may look, the upbeat dance music of "Pala" and the energetic charm of singer Ed Macfarlane is bound to cheer you up.
Her new album, "Blessed," looks at love from all sorts of angles, from the devoted "Sweet Love" to the poignant "Soldier's Song," which tells the story of a couple separated by war through their letters. Williams' live delivery only makes her well-crafted tales that much more effective.
Panic! At the Disco (Oct. 30 at Paramount Theatre)
No need to worry about the post-split Panic. Singer Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith returned to rock with their "Vices & Virtues" album and the potent single "The Ballad of Mona Lisa" that gets the crowd as fired up as "I Write Sins Not Tragedies."
Pixies (Nov. 5 at Paramount Theatre)
The indie-rock legends are calling this their "Lost Cities" tour, finally bringing them to Long Island to perform the classic "Doolittle" album. Yes, here comes your band.
The Throne (Nov. 5 and 6 at Izod Center)
The collaboration between Jay-Z and Kanye West didn't stop with the amazing "Watch the Throne" album. The new dynamic duo has expanded it to create a live tour together, and they look like they're having the time of their lives when they knock out hot new songs like "Otis" together.
The master may be promoting his new "Duets II" album, featuring his pairings with everyone from Aretha Franklin to Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse, on this tour, but we all know Bennett needs no help wowing a crowd with his ever-improving voice.
She's had a comparatively quiet year in 2011, just filling arenas night after night and spooling out the stories of "Speak Now." The schedule seems to suit the country-pop superstar, as her shows seem both lighthearted and heartfelt.
Brand New (Nov. 27 and 28 at Paramount Theatre)
The hometown heroes will hopefully unveil music from the much-anticipated follow-up to "Daisy," as well as christen the new Huntington theater for the current Long Island music scene.
More fall concerts to keep in mind
Matt Nathanson (Sept. 30 at 8 p.m.) -- Terminal 5, $25, terminal5nyc.com, 212-582-6600
Black Eyed Peas (Sept. 30 at 8 p.m.) -- Central Park, blackeyedpeas.robinhood .org
Mat Kearney (Oct. 28 at 8 p.m.) -- Webster Hall, $22.50, websterhall.com, 212-353-1600
Katy Perry (Nov. 16 at 8 p.m.) -- Madison Square Garden, $49.50-$69.50, thegarden.com. 212-465-6741
"Petty Fest" featuring Norah Jones and the Sheepdogs (Oct. 5 at 8 p.m.) -- Music Hall of Williamsburg, $22, musichallof williamsburg.com, 212-260-4700. And Oct. 6, Bowery Ballroom, $22, boweryballroom.com, 212-260-4700
Bush (Oct. 11 at 8 p.m.) -- Paramount Theater, $35-$75, paramountny.com, 631-673-7300
Portugal. The Man (Oct. 20 at 8 p.m.) -- Terminal 5, $22.50, terminal5nyc.com, 212-582-6600
Evanescence (Nov. 1 at 6 p.m.) -- Terminal 5, $39.50, terminal5nyc.com, 212-582-6600
Fitz and the Tantrums (Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.) -- Terminal 5, $25, terminal5nyc.com, 212-582-6600
The Human League (Sept. 23 at 8 p.m.) -- Best Buy Theater, $29.50, bestbuytheater.com, 212-930-1950
Psychedelic Furs (Oct. 7 at 8 p.m.) -- NYCB Theatre at Westbury, $29.50- $49.50, livenation.com, 516-334-0800
The Damned (Oct. 22 at 8 p.m.) -- Irving Plaza, $29.50, irvingplaza.com, 212-777-6800
Duran Duran (Oct. 25 at 8 p.m.) -- Madison Square Garden, $39.50-$89.50, thegarden.com, 212-465-6741
Mac Miller (Sept. 22 at 8 p.m.) -- Irving Plaza, $22.50, irvingplaza.com, 212-777-6800. Also, Best Buy Theater on Dec. 2., $22.50, bestbuytheater.com, 212-930-1950
India.Arie (Oct. 18 at 8 p.m.) -- Beacon Theatre, $35-$99.50, beacontheatre.com, 212-465-6500
Amos Lee (Oct. 29 at 8 p.m.) -- Paramount Theatre, $19.50-$65, paramountny.com, 631-673-7300
tUnE-yArDs (Sept. 19 and 20 at 8 p.m.) -- Le Poisson Rouge, $20, lepoissonrouge.com, 212-505-3474
Stephen Malkmus (Sept. 26 at 8 p.m.) -- Terminal 5, $25, terminal5nyc.com, 212-582-6600
Colour Revolt. (Oct. 28 at 8 p.m.) -- Vibe Lounge, $12 advance, $14 day of; clubloaded.com, 516-208-6590
Bayside (Nov. 15 and 16 at 8 p.m.) -- Irving Plaza, $21, irvingplaza.com, 212-777-6800
Wilco (Sept. 22 and 23 at 8 p.m.) -- SummerStage, $45, bowerypresents.com, 800-745-3000
Gillian Welch (Oct. 22 at 8 p.m.) -- Beacon Theatre, $35-$49.50, beacontheatre.com, 212-465-6500
Civil Wars (Oct. 27 at 8 p.m.) -- Town Hall, $24-$31.50, the-townhall-nyc.org, 212-840-2824
Willie Nelson (Nov. 2 at 8 p.m.) -- Paramount Theatre, $49.50-$99.50, paramountny.com, 631-673-7300
Deadmau5 (Oct. 5, 6, 7 and 8 at 8 p.m.) -- Roseland Ballroom, $50-$125, roselandballroom.com, 212-777-6800
M83 (Nov. 22 at 8 p.m.) -- At Webster Hall, $20, Webster Hall, $22.50, websterhall.com, 212-353-1600. Also, Music Hall of Williamsburg on Nov. 23, $22, musichallofwilliamsburg.com, 212-260-4700
Shemekia Copeland (Nov. 10 and 11 at 8 p.m.) -- Jazz at Lincoln Center,
The Allen Room, $55-$65, jalc.org, 212-721-6500
Manhattan Transfer (Nov. 18 at 8 p.m.) -- Tilles Center, $37-$77, tillescenter.org, 516-299-3100