Move over movies, here come drive-in concerts.
Adventureland in East Farmingdale has become the first venue on Long Island to embrace the concept with its new Drive-In Concert Series, which kicks off June 13 (rain date June 14).
“Since the pandemic began, we’ve been trying to do things that are outside of the box,” says Adventureland owner Steve Gentile, who is already running a drive-in movie series at the amusement park. “Drive-in concerts are new to us but we are excited to try it.”
The first show will be Disco Unlimited’s “Saturday Night Drive-In Fever” featuring '70s disco classics spotlighting the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack.
“We want to give people something to look forward to instead of deciding what they can watch on Netflix again,” says show producer Brian Rosenberg, who has partnered with Universal Special Events. “The real joy is being out with your friends and family in a safe way. This gives them a place to go.”
The six-piece boogie band from Brooklyn is ready to get groovy in this new setting.
“This is a cool opportunity because we’ve missed playing for everyone,” says keyboardist/vocalist Joe “Cool” Reina. “Looking out at a sea of cars, we are hoping people will have their windows rolled down and we get some feedback.”
Tickets are $200 per car on universalspecialevents.com. Gates open at 6 p.m. for an 8 p.m. general-admission show. Parking spaces, layered in rows of nine, are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
People can watch the shows from inside their cars or sit in a lawn chair directly in front of their car. The 32-by-24-foot stage will stand 5 feet, 6 inches off the ground with a giant screen to increase visibility plus full stage lighting and amplification. The bathroom lines will be spaced and monitored with an attendant to disinfect in between usage.
“We will request and enforce that everybody stays socially distant,” says Gentile. “If you are leaving your area, we are going to ask you to wear a mask.”
Food trucks selling Philly cheesesteaks and sausage-and-peppers sandwiches will be on hand. No alcohol will be sold.
Originally this set-up was planned for The Long Island Community Hospital Amphitheater at Bald Hill in Farmingville, but Rosenberg decided to go in a different direction.
“I’d rather start small,” he says. “Adventureland was the perfect place to take the baby steps needed to pull off a 160-car, drive-in concert.”
Plans for future shows include 45rpm’s “C’mon Get Happy Show” saluting “The Brady Bunch” and “The Partridge Family” on June 27 (rain date June 28,) followed by Decadia performing the music of “Grease” in July with more to come.
“People need to be near fun and hear laughs. It’s a process we all need to go through,” says Gentile. “We hope to be an avenue that helps them heal.''
Long Island is not the only area testing out drive-in concerts. Country rocker Keith Urban recently performed before a field of 125 cars at the Stardust Drive-In Theatre in Watertown, Tennessee. Meanwhile Beatles tribute band The Weeklings, featuring singer/bassist Glen Burtnik (formerly of Styx), rocked two shows at the Tupelo Music Hall’s Drive-In Experience in Derry, New Hampshire.