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Santa Monica Re-imagines Ultra-Popular “Twilight Concerts at the Pier”


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Santa Monica Travel and Tourism

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Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

November 29, 2017 -- Too popular for its own good, Santa Monica’s premier summer outdoor concert series, Twilight Concerts at the Pier, might be shifted to late summer or fall and be preceded with a festivity meant to attract a broader crowd.

The Santa Monica Pier Corporation Board is recommending the “much beloved series to be shifted to the late summer/fall season,” according to a statement issued by its publicist the Jeff Wagner Agency, a marketing and public relations firm.

Moreover, the “recalibrated” concert series would be introduced at a “one-day ‘Summer Celebration’ event that would serve to unite the community under a multitude of artful expressions and establish a festive atmosphere in advance,” the release said.

The recommendation will be presented to the City Council aat its meeting December 12.

The concert series found itself facing potential safety issues as crowds continued to swell during its 33rd year this summer.

At least five-times larger than the Pier deck’s capacity of 5,000 to 7,000 people per event, the mostly teenage crowd packed in to watch a performance by rising R&B star Khalid on June 22.

Police were overwhelmed and though there was no notably unruly behavior, public safety officials were alarmed by the possibility of an accidental stampede and other potential hazards.

As the crowd spilled out to the beach – and only eleven minutes after the concert started – police began warning people to avoid the Pier due to overcrowding.

The crowd turned out to be smaller than the initially reported 60,000, but large enough to spur calls for something to be done ("Crowd Size at Santa Monica Concert Smaller Than Reported, Pier Officials Say," June 30, 2017).

Some residents, increasingly unable to avoid the impact of the Twilight crowds, began calling for an end to the free event. City officials said such crowds, which flow in region-wide, were not “sustainable” and needed to be quickly downsized or the concerts should be ended.

The 33rd Annual Twilight Concert Series is usually staged Thursdays between June and August.

Billed as "Southern California's largest free concert series," Twilight has a tradition of being non-traditional. This summer's lineup featured the usual eclectic mix of world music, pop, rock, blues, funk and a classic rock band.

Organizers of the series said the huge crowd for Khalid was a fluke. The 19-year-old singer-songwriter was experiencing a surge in popularity, which ended up following him to the Pier, they said.

Although Twilight survived the board’s ax, its next life won’t likely be the same.

“The Board wishes to move forward to provide Pier-focused, creative, interactive, cutting-edge and traditional opportunities for all demographics, with an approach of open-mindedness," the board's statement said.

Pier officials hope "to ensure that the tradition of summer continues by re-imagining the concert series for a one-day transitional summer celebration, followed by a range of musical experiences in the Fall of 2018 and beyond, especially during the off-season time periods.”

The final decision on the concert series is up to the council.


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