Music News & Reviews

Red Hat Amphitheater sets new attendance record with help from some big-name acts

Mary J. Blige brought her "Strength of a Woman Tour" to Raleigh, N.C.'s Red Hat Amphitheater Thursday night, Aug. 10, 2017.
Mary J. Blige brought her "Strength of a Woman Tour" to Raleigh, N.C.'s Red Hat Amphitheater Thursday night, Aug. 10, 2017. ssharpe@newsobserver.com

Red Hat Amphitheater’s 2017 numbers are out, and the downtown Raleigh concert venue has set another attendance record.

The 5,990-capacity amphitheater drew 131,108 people to 40 events ranging from bluegrass to heavy metal, according to figures provided by the city. That’s up from last year’s total of 122,974 attendance at 39 shows.

Topping this year’s list is the Sept. 30 Wide Open Bluegrass show – one of the marquee events for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass – featuring Steve Martin with Steep Canyon Rangers. The day-long event drew a crowd of 5,988.

steve martin1
Steve Martin performs with Steep Canyon Rangers during Wide Open Bluegrass Saturday night, Sept. 30, 2017 at Raleigh, N.C.'s Red Hat Amphitheater. Scott Sharpe ssharpe@newsobserver.com

Not far behind is R&B torch singer Mary J. Blige at 5,492, and the blues-rock Tedeschi Trucks Band at 5,234.

Other acts that drew solid crowds in excess of 4,000 are: alternative acts Bastille and The xx; metal bands Deftones and Slayer; reggae group Rebelution; R&B singer Maxwell; roots-rock ensemble My Morning Jacket; and ’80s hitmakers Blondie with Garbage.

At the other end of the spectrum, Red Hat’s smallest concert crowds include “Frozen” singer Idina Menzel, who drew 1,341 in July. The only one smaller was an April 30 conference-related private event, with 1,000.

Bolstering Red Hat’s concert cause was this year’s IBMA World of Bluegrass, which set another attendance record in 2017. There is one year left in the five-year contract for the bluegrass festival and conference to be held in Raleigh with negotiations ongoing for future dates.

Also, the Hopscotch Music Festival expanded its Red Hat bookings this year with a third day of shows on Sunday.

Red Hat isn’t the only venue to set concert attendance records in 2017. The NC Museum of Art’ concert series attracted 38,331 people for the first time, an increase of last year’s 22,919 at the 2,800-capacity venue.

The museum partnered with Frank Heath, proprietor of Carrboro nightclub Cat’s Cradle. Heath has co-promoted most of the museum’s shows the past two years, primarily drawing from acts that played the Cradle in the past and grew beyond the club’s capacity. Six of this year’s co-presented dates have drawn sellout crowds, including Belle & Sebastian and Mandolin Orange.

City-owned Red Hat opened in 2010, with Live Nation handling most of its concert bookings. Figures for Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre and Raleigh’s Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek won’t be available until a later date.

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi

Red Hat by the numbers

The City of Raleigh reports 131,108 attended concerts at Red Hat Amphitheater. Here are figures by the concert. A * indicates a free show.

5,988 - IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass: Steep Canyon Rangers and Steve Martin, Hot Rize, Travelin’ McCourys, Balsam Range, Lonesome River Band, Sierra Hull, Bluegrass 45, Chatham County Line, Sister Sadie (Sept. 30)

5,492 - Mary J. Blige, Lalah Hathaway (Aug. 10)

5,234 - Tedeschi Trucks Band (July 14)

4,717 - IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass: Infamous Stringdusters, Country Gentlemen tribute, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, O’Connor Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Flatt Lonesome, Kruger Brothers with Contras Quartet, Molly Tuttle (Sept. 29)

4,634 - Deftones, Rise Against (June 18)

4,603 - Third Eye Blind, Silversun Pickups (June 17)

4,590 - My Morning Jacket, Gary Clark Jr. (July 9)

4,424 - Maxwell, Ledisi, Leela James (May 26)

4,378 - Blondie, Garbage (Aug. 5)

4,275 - The xx (May 14)

4,135 - Rebelution (July 22)

4,124 - Slayer, Lamb of God, Behemoth (July 20)

4,105 - Bastille (May 12)

3,867 - Ms. Lauryn Hill, Nas (Sept. 20)

3,826 - Glass Animals (June 6)

3,510 - The Connells, July Fourth fireworks (July 4)*

3,504 - Slightly Stoopid (June 29)

3,500 - Cracker for the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon (April 2)*

3,200 - Logic (July 27)

3,121 - Hopscotch Music Festival (Day 2): Solange, Tei Shi, Arrow Benjamin, Sir the Baptist, Flock of Dimes, Zensofly (Sept. 9)

3,106 - Kidz Bop (May 5)

2,950 - Ben Folds for the Band Together fundraiser (May 6)

2,945 - Primus, Clutch (July 18)

2,890 - Kid Cudi (Oct. 11)

2,783 - Goo Goo Dolls, Phillip Phillips (Aug. 23)

2,691 - The Head and the Heart, Shelters (Oct. 2)

- MercyMe (July 15)

2,580 - Hopscotch Music Festival (Day 1): Run the Jewels, Rapsody, Busdriver (Sept. 8)

2,576 - Straight No Chaser, Postmodern Jukebox (July 28)

2,433 - Dirty Heads, Soja (June 14)

2,200 - Citizen Cope (Oct. 6)*

2,143 - Ohio Players, Midnight Star, Con Funk Shun (April 15)

2,121 - Newsboys (Sept. 23)

2,057 - Gov’t Mule, Galactic (Aug. 3)

2,030 - Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie (June 24)

1,650 - Hopscotch Music Festival (Day 3): Angel Olsen, Dass McCombs, Mount Moriah, Mary Timon, Cloud Nothings, Jenny Besetzt, No One Mind (Sept. 10)

1,888 - CMT’s “Nashville” in concert (Aug. 2)

1,876 - Humphrey’s McGee, Aqueous (Aug. 11)

1,341 - Idina Menzel (July 19)

1,000 - Dude Solutions, Inc. (April 30; private event)

Source: City of Raleigh

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