By Noah Bulthuis & Camila Dadabhoy
Like so many other concert-loving SoCal residents, I was disappointed to learn of the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre closing down. After 35 years of seasonal performances wooing fans from all over Orange County, former No Doubt pop icon, Gwen Stefani, closed the theatre on September 9, 2016 saying, “I have so many memories at Irvine Meadows … I am humbled to perform there once again as it comes to a close.”
With that nostalgic final act, Irvine Meadows closed its doors forever, saying goodbye to all the memories, experiences and good vibes it shared with our community. On Thursday, Oct. 5, I had the opportunity to go see the very first show opening at the brand new FivePoint Irvine Amphitheatre. The set list opened up with the Los Angeles-based American indie pop band, Sir Sly, Long Beach-based indie rock band, the Cold War Kids and the stars of the show, Irvine-based American Rock band, Young the Giant.
Traffic was light, but due to how recent the opening of the venue was, Google Maps led us straight to Portola High School instead of the amphitheater. Luckily, there were traffic directors leading cars to the amphitheatre parking lot due to the confusion. The outdoor venue appeared to be partially under construction, however, the parking was free and avoiding the usual twenty-dollar fee had us smiling all the way in. After entering through the front gate, there was a large grass turf area complete with cornholes and small concession stands for people to hang out before or during the show. Surrounding the grass area, restrooms, merchandise booths and a variety of food trucks bordered the arena. From the warm buckets of kettle corn to the Korean BBQ sandwich stands, there was something for everyone. Reigning above all else, we encountered the classiest port-o-potty style restrooms we have ever seen, complete with painted, wooden doors and tile counters. A small detail, but worth mentioning.
Walking into the new venue, we admired the 12,000 capacity stadium-style bleachers and the standing-only general admission area. With our pit-seat tickets, we were lucky enough to see the bands up close, among all the other hardcore rock (and weed) fans jumping on the floor of the stage. Between acts, the cameras panned through the rows which was displayed on the two massive screens on either side of the stage. The opening bands had fans pumped by the time Young the Giant performed, as the lead singer, Sameer Gadhia, belted the words to “Cough Syrup” lifting the crowd to their feet, marking the beginning of a great night. A native of Irvine, California, Gadhia and his band originated right here in Orange County, and it seemed perfectly fitting for them to be the first show opening this new theatre.
Overall, the experience at FivePoint Amphitheater was quite positive. The bands sounded amazing, the lights and visuals were spectacular, and the staff at the concession and merchandise booths were very friendly. If there were a gripe with this new venue, it was the exiting system post-concert. We can give them the benefit of the doubt on this one, since it was the first performance — but be prepared to spend more time in concert traffic than on your drive home. Believe it or not, the FivePoint theatre is only temporary, while the permanent amphitheatre is still under construction. We recommend checking it out before; it’ll be worth your while. So even if you’re not into concerts or music just isn’t your thing, at least go for the high-quality restrooms. You won’t regret that deposit.