Lou Gramm fanHold the presses, despite all the naysayers, the Molson Canal Concerts debut went off virtually without a hitch.

Early arrivers were greeted with a wide open concert area and were able to watch as the set up and sound checks went on. A friendly, but firm security force kept the rules and no one seemed to mind or have a problem with them.

Lots of photos in my Gallery!

Prices for food tickets were $3.50 with one ticket being sufficient for most items. A can of beer, or a hard lemonade for that price isn’t out of line and there were a wide variety of food items available as well for one or two tickets. For example, a hamburger served with a side of potato chips, or a generous order of nachos and cheese were available for the single ticket price. Not Micky-D’s dollar menu, but for a festival, not too bad. Anyone who complains about that needs to get out of Lockport more.

The parking situation never reached anything near critical, despite the naysayers predictions. Those private lots that were charging $7, $10 and yes one even asked $20 dollars, were pretty empty. The free, city operated lots were sufficient for most parking, due in part to the large number of local residents who walked to the concert.

The chair restriction seemed to be a non-issue as well. A tip for anyone who needs to sit for whatever reason (Hey, I’m with you. My dogs were pretty tired by the end of the night!) – the sidewalks around the Walnut-Locust corner were a great spot to sit outside the fence. A multitude of enterprising people had set up stands selling food and beverages around the venue as well, so if you didn’t go inside the fenced area, you were not left out.

Helen Butler and Joe McCarthy of McCarthyizmOkay, let’s talk entertainment. Rochester’s Uncle Plum was cancelled and Buffalo veterans McCarthyizm brought in. They’ve played every concert venue in WNY at least once before, so they were up to the task. I’ve gotten to know them over the years and was glad to see them play in Lockport.

53 days, a Buffalo band that has gained national exposure, filled the middle spot on the bill. By the time they and McCarthyizm had played, the crowd had reached pretty respectable size. Both bands were a great fit to open for Lou Gramm both in style and intensity.

Lou GrammThe Lou Gramm Band was honored with a massive crowd there to see them. Unlike the former North Tonawanda site, the crowd was able to get a good view of the stage from not just the front, but both sides. The VIP area on the right of the stage was a great vantage point for those with the pass to get in.

Even though the crowd was pretty solid in front of the stage and a couple hundred feet deep, there was plenty of room for more relaxed listening further back. The food tent area had many picnic tables for eating and sitting. There could have been a few more, as there were many people sitting on curbs to eat. Rest room facilities, although just the typical port-a-johns, were plentiful and lines were short.

For the more discerning concert-goer, the place to be was definitely at Taboo, whether the patio in the back with tables and chairs in full view of the stage, or the outside bar where you could sit and chat with someone while the music played. The outside seating at Metropolitan was another great choice, if you were ready to order a meal.

Mounted patrolSecurity at the venue was in-force. Besides the concert security at the gates and stage, the Lockport Police and Niagara County Sheriff’s Auxiliary Police were there with a very visible presence. Bicycle patrols were utilized by both groups as well as the Auxiliary’s mounted division. I saw no disturbances, and for the most part, the law enforcement personnel seemed to be enjoying the event as much as the crowd. Fire Rescue was also stationed at the event and promptly treated the one or two medical issues.

For the first such event, this was handled very well. The experience of the promoter with the concert series in the past must have been invaluable in making the transition to Lockport seamless. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

If you didn’t make this show, but are thinking of coming to any of the others this summer (and you should, it’s a great lineup coming) here are my tips:

Arrive early. Make a evening of it and enjoy the fine dining establishments both at the site and around it. There’s got to be twenty places you could eat at, from pizza and subs, to chinese, to fine dining all within walking distance.

If you can walk there, do. If you are from out-of-town, don’t pay for parking. There are several large free lots within three blocks of the venue with plenty of capacity, especially if you’re early.

Another reason to arrive early – the opening acts. you can see and appreciate them so much easier before the bulk of the crowd arrives. We have some outstanding local bands scheduled for the rest of the season.

If you need or want to sit, again, early arrival will be good, especially as people realize where they can set up chairs. Around the outside of the fence at the Locust-Walnut corner you can get a prime seat without going inside. If you can’t do that, the VIP area was utilized for seating as well. I think you need to have a real handicap to be allowed there, though.

If you don’t like crowds, or just want to hang out around the area, the sound was great. I walked around most of the downtown area and the sound was amazingly clear all over. Feel free to visit other shops downtown without missing the music!