Once inside Gibson Ranch County Park last Saturday everything seemed like Radio 94.7 made a good first run at a first-class, day-long music festival, called City of Trees Summer Concert Event.
The show featured nine quality national and international acts, headlined by Sacramento’s legendary Cake, who coincidentally or not, gives out a tree to a fan at every show. And the music portion, for the most part, went off smoothly, despite the near 100-degree temperatures. Alternative acts captivated the crowd, estimated at just under 10,000, with musicians including the up-and-coming Halsey, subject of a major New York Times feature just the week before, and Iceland’s popular Of Monsters and Men.
But that was inside. Outside was another story. You knew slowly moving into the parking lot for the 2:30 kickoff for the first act, The Moth and the Flame, with only one rutted, dusty, single-lane road entering from Elverta Road, that it would not be easy when it would be time to exit. There had to be other ways out, right? No worries; let’s enjoy the show!
Nope. Even those trying to get out an hour or so before Cake finished playing at 10 p.m. ended up stuck in a traffic jam of unprecedented proportions. With only the one road open going out, the parking lot scene was eerily reminiscent of an epic Twilight Zone episode. Virtually the only lighting was from the headlights of idling or turned off vehicles. There were no human attendants in the vicinity to direct traffic or provide information. Dust-coated vehicles silently sat for almost two hours without literally moving an inch.
With no information forthcoming, frustrated stuck concert attendees turned to social media. A Facebook page that had been set up to promote the show lit up with hundreds of comments. It was a truly bizarre situation. Only when another access road was finally opened, again without notice or direction, did vehicles start moving out at around 11:30pm.
Radio 94.7, the producers of the event, issued a statement on their event website that both positively highlighted the success of the concert and addressed the parking issue. “That was frustrating and we apologize,” 94.7 said, adding, “Gibson Ranch is a great setting for City of Trees and other concert events. We take full responsibility for making the final part of future City of Trees experiences better.”
94.7 also clarified the reported issue of running out of water, acknowledged the positive and negative feedback they received, and made a promise to have the “long line” issues addressed and resolved before their next event.
One can hope that this was only logistical oversight since the annual Aftershock festival, featuring almost 50 hard rock acts and held last year in Discovery Park, is scheduled this year on October 24-25 at the same Gibson Ranch site. It draws an estimated 25,000 per day, and does have amenities that Summer of Trees did not, like on-site camping and numerous hotel packages and shuttles to help cut down on daily in-and-out traffic. But still, several changes will be needed so that last Saturday’s nightmare scenario is not repeated.
Besides the parking mess that concert promoters perhaps failed to anticipate, it was a great day of music.