This drive-in trend seems to be all the rage! I honestly had never even been to a drive-in movie, but this year is full of firsts. When I saw that Phoenix was getting in on the drive-in concerts scenes, (finally) I had to jump in and see what this was all about. Of course I had my reservations. How could they possibly pull something off like this? Could it even compare to going to a traditional show?
I can now answers these questions thanks to the Concerts in Your Car series. First let me start with, I went to one of their first shows. It was for Third Eye Blind! So I figured it might be a little bump as they navigated how everything would actually play out. It’s one thing to plan a completely new event like this and a whole other things to execute.
Going into this completely blind and with no word of mouth to vouch for it, I had some concerns. My biggest concern was traffic. I seriously get SO anxious about traffic- if it’s signed well, will there be a lot of road closures that confuse me, will it be crowded with jerks that make pulling in difficult?
But that is a worry you’d have with just about any event you attend in the big city. Ones that I had specific to this modern era concert were more about the set up, if I could see, if the sound would be any good and of course, the bathroom situation. The more pregnant I get, the more bathrooms matter to me. Those are all the types of things that would make or break this event for me.
Before we dive into what my experience did end up being like, let me apologize for not taking more photos. Beyond the worries, I was still so excited to see a live set again. I practically forgot my phone existed. I initially thought I’d be attending Sublime with Rome the following weekend to make up for my lack of pictures but then they got rescheduled for November so all we have are the three crappy photos I snapped. Hopefully my words can paint an idea for you.
As I pulled in, my major anxiety about traffic eased up. It was very easy to find (as it was at the Arizona State Fairgrounds as was surrounded by those traditional concert lights) and there wasn’t a huge line of cars to sit through. In fact, we got to pull right in. They were pretty fast checking cars thanks to multiple lanes for security. We did have a litttttle hiccup though.
Let me spare you the mistake me made. In photos I’d seen online, it looked like everyone was bringing in six packs and coolers full of stuff to drink during the show. I was unsure of what would be available once inside so we stocked up a cooler full of nice beer and a fresh fifth of Absolute for my friends in the car. The website even said, “support local eateries ahead of the show,” so in my mind that included beverages. Whoops! Because of me, we had to give over $50 worth of pre-bought alcohol to security.
They DID give us the option to go home, so we didn’t have to waste it, and come back but I live 30 minutes away from the fairgrounds and the show was going to start soon so we just handed over the goods. They were very polite and felt so bad for us. You CAN bring in coolers. But they cannot contain alcohol! At least our waters were nice and cold.
We also had some bags of chips they let us through with, noting that alcohol would be available for purchase inside. The security check was mostly to make sure there was no alcohol or nothing unsafe in the trunk. After the bump in the road with the booze, we sailed through security and were able to pull in with ease.
To be real, I was a little nervous about the rest of the evening after I single handedly had everyone’s booze taken away. *My friends who were with me reading this, I still feel awful. IOU drinks.* Things quickly turned around though. They had TONS of staff to help you navigate driving through to find your spot- which isn’t that difficult to begin with but like I said, ANXIETY.
Once we pulled into our spot, it wasn’t long before the show started. Not because it took a while to get into position but because we were running a tad late. We popped the trunk, got out our now-empty cooler for a foot rest and sat in the back of the car. No more than two minutes went by before a golf cart of beverages pulled up and asked if we wanted some. So there was the alcohol they were talking about! Moderately priced. Actually a little cheaper than what you’d normally end up paying at a concert… I think. It’s been so long.
You can buy up to two at a time and that was actually their last call so they didn’t drive around blocking people during the show. I thought that was awfully considerate. If you wanted to purchase more, there was an actual stand for drinks (and some carnival food favorites) over on the opposite side from us. I could see it pretty clearly from where we were stationed and it never looked like there was a crowd around it- which made me feel pandemic-safe.
So let’s talk a little more about the set up. This is where I wish I had taken more photos. Pictures are a thousand words, and words are just confusing when trying to properly explain how they had this set, but I’ll do my best.
In reality, we probably didn’t have great “seats” but we couldn’t even tell because it was all really well executed. The stage did have something that was clearly supposed to be the front, but it was still made to be a 360 stage and it’s elevated. What I mean by that is there were microphones on all sides of the stage. The band could walk around all sides, minus the drummer. Actually, my one critique is that I wish the drummer’s platform rotated. Sounds expensive and probably impractical for a show that was only one night and then had to be torn down but it would have been my one enhancement to the show.
A popular question I got about the set up was, “could you see?” Normally, I get asked this because I’m 5’2” but this time it was a concern I think most people had going in! To answer, YES! When I looked at the map it looked like we were going to be in the very back and on the side. I went in with low expectations that ended up being far exceeded. The way they had the spots staggered made it so you could see the stage no matter where you were. They also had giant screens to help anyone that was having a hard time, but I found myself looking at the stage directly more than the screen. If someone had a giant van (not talking a mom-mobile, but like a work van or mini camper type,) I probably would have struggled to see. It seemed like those who arrived in vans like that were behind us though. Not sure if that was luck or intentional.
At one point, we actually were given the option to move our car up to the next row, two spots were left open and we were one of the lucky cars that got to move in and take it! After we did that, we popped our trunk again but when I turned around, I did notice that my trunk open made it harder for some girls a couple rows back to see so we closed the trunk. They were very appreciative and it didn’t inconvenience us at all.
I’m telling you about that so you can do the same if you go to one of these. Instead of popping your trunk and sitting in the back, BRING LAWN CHAIRS! This keeps you from blocking anyone’s view but is also just more comfy.
I almost forgot to mention the bathroom situation. I’ll be brief. They had tons of bathrooms. There was never a line. Plenty of handwashing stations. Could not have been more ideal.
The show itself was great! You could tell the band was so grateful to be back in front of people again. For applause, we screamed, honked our horns and flashed our lights. The sound was surprisingly great. They say to tune in through your FM radio, but we didn’t even turn ours on. It was plenty loud and came through nice and clear through the lot. The audience was incredibly high energy and with all the spacing between cars there was plenty of room to dance to your favorite song and let out all the angst that built up from months of no concerts. We got three encore songs that night and couldn’t have been more pleased with how it all turned out.
The last thing to worry about in an event like this is… leaving. Everyone is already at their cars which could have been really good or really bad. Thankfully, it was on the good side. No crowd of people to weave your way through as you try to get back to your vehicle like you traditionally would after a show and no one to dodge as you navigate your way out. It wasn’t clustered as all the cars pulled out at once and the staff seemed well prepared to get out of there and headed home safely.
While I was skeptical of how this would all go, I’d definitely say it’s something you need to do. Treat yourself to one of these drive-in concerts with Concerts in Your Car. The next set of shows are coming up in November with 311 and Sublime with Rome. We actually happen to have tickets we are giving away through the ALT AZ App, but if you’re not feeling super lucky, just buy the tickets. You can bring up to 6 people in your car so if you split the ticket price, it’s easily managed.
Get your concert fix in while remaining safe during this weird time. Hope you have a great experience just like I did!