Long Island’s first drive-in concert has just been driven out.
Opening night of the Drive-In Concert Series at Adventureland in Farmingdale, which was scheduled to begin June 13, has been canceled. The featured band, Disco Unlimited, pulled out after receiving heat from their fans on social media for the show's $200 admission fee.
“Given everything that’s going on in the world, the pricing wasn’t feeling right to our fans,” says singer Cameron “Sista Soul” Reina. “For them to not be happy and not feel like it was something they could take part in, started to make us think about it.”
Tickets were being sold for $200 per car on universalspecialevents.com. Many fans were taking to Facebook criticizing the price. One person wrote, “I hope no one goes, someone was greedy. It’s a joke.” Another post read, “OMG!!!! Do they want my first born too???”
The plan was to create a 160-car general admission show where the parking spaces, layered in rows of nine, were distributed on a first come, first served basis. People were permitted to watch from inside their cars or sit in a lawn chair directly in front while watching the band on a 32 x 24 foot stage standing 5 feet 6 inches off the ground backed by a giant screen with full stage lighting and amplification.
Show producer Brian Rosenberg, who partnered with Universal Special Events, said the ticket price reflected the basic costs of building a concert venue in an empty parking lot.
“Because it’s only 160 cars in the lot due to social distancing, we did a breakdown of our expenses,” he says. “Right off the bat, half the money went to tech [sound, lighting, screen, stage] alone. The other half was going to staffing, cleaning, security, insurance and talent.”
Perhaps tickets weren’t selling? Not so, according to Rosenberg who says that since Tuesday at 3 p.m. the show sold 58 tickets out of 160.
“Nobody, including Adventureland, cared about the profit margin. We didn’t want to lose money, but we were very confident we were heading for a sell out,” says Rosenberg. “We were figuring four people per car to make it $50 per person. Most of the concerts I do start at $50. But, offending people was not the goal here.”
What does the Disco Unlimited fan base expect? Concerts at no cost.
“We do a lot of park shows in the summer,” says Reina. “Our fans are very accustomed to free shows once the weather gets warm.”
Adventureland wanted to offer an all-day park pass for every individual who attended the show to add some extra value. However, the band didn’t feel it was enough.
“They were talking about giving some vouchers, but ultimately it wouldn’t bring the price down,” says Reina. “That’s really what people needed.”
However, Rosenberg has not given up on the drive-in idea.
“I will not stop thinking of ways to bring entertainment to Long Island,” he says. “This does not deter me in any way. I will figure this out.”