Y-Live: Kid Rock, Lee Brice and an Improved Fan Experience
YOUNGSTOWN – While last year’s Y-Live concert went off without a hitch, the goal this year is to make it even better.
With a trio of longtime Youngstown favorites – headliner Kid Rock, plus Lee Brice and Buckcherry – the Saturday concert is expected to again surpass 20,000, as it did last year.
“Tickets are selling great,” said Ken Bigley, vice president of JAC Management, which stages Y-Live. “We should be at or near sellout capacity, which is about 21,000.”
The concert will start at 7 p.m. Saturday at Wean Park, downtown.
Now in its fifth year (2020 and 2021 were canceled because of the pandemic), Y-Live always features a major national act and pulls in a crowd that is by far the biggest of the year in the city.
Country superstar Luke Bryan was the headliner last year, which was the first time Y-Live took place at Wean Park. Previous iterations were at Stambaugh Stadium.
Staging a major concert in a city park means installing all of the infrastructure: thousands of feet of fencing, tents for the concession stands, portable bathrooms, a stage, seats, water, electricity, Wi-fi, security and more.
Parking and traffic flow also has to be coordinated. Downtown has been plagued by street closures due to seemingly unending road reconstruction for the past two years, but a concerted effort was made this week to finish up some rough spots at intersections and reopen a portion of East Federal Street.
Y-Live has become an event, with concertgoers arriving downtown in the afternoon and partying at bars and in parking lots.
It was a challenge, but the few things that went wrong were barely noticeable to guests.
“Last year went great,” said Bigley. “But it was the first year in a new space, and you learn some things.”
Subtle tweaks are being made this year to improve the fan experience, he said, including more wayfinding signage on the site and improvements at the concession stands and portable potties.
“Those things are more important in a nontraditional space, so we accentuated them,” Bigley said.
Another noticeable change will be at the entrance, which is next to Covelli Centre. Pedestrian flow will be streamlined by funneling fans with seats to the seating area in one direction, and those with lawn tickets in the other.
Last year, heavy demand and use of credit cards caused the point-of-sale systems to bog down and slow down service for beer and food. To ensure that doesn’t happen again, JAC has increased its Wi-fi capacity, Bigley said.
The VIP Lawn section has been eliminated this year, with the general lawn area expanding into its space. “It wasn’t needed,” Bigley said. “Fans in the lawn section can now get closer to the barricade.”
To meet the requirements of Kid Rock’s production, a much larger stage is being installed this year.
“Kid Rock has a lot of gear, a much bigger set, pyrotechnics, video walls, so we had to increase the size of the stage,” Bigley said.
Like last year, a giant video screen will be set up at the side of the stage. It will be the same size as last year, but vertically oriented instead of horizontally.
An additional video screen will be set up in the lawn area, as well as an additional bank of speakers that will carry the same high-quality sound.
Also new this year will be a designated drop-off zone for those who are using ride sharing services. Because Front Street will be closed for the concert, the zone will be in front of A&C Beverage, 45 South Ave., two blocks away.
“That’s as close as you can get,” Bigley said, noting that the shuttle buses that will take fans from the Youngstown State University parking garage on Wick Avenue will also load and unload at A&C.
When hailing a ride on the Lyft app, use the destination “Y-Live 2023’; for Uber, use the address 45 South Ave., A&C Beverage.
In the past, Y-Live featured stars of the country music scene. This will be the first year with rock in the mix – although Kid Rock has crossover appeal to a country audience.
In putting the lineup together, JAC followed Kid Rock’s model of performing with artists from the country world.
“We took that structure and did it with artists who know this area,” Bigley said.
Kid Rock did multiple shows this year with country artist Chris Janson and a few with Travis Tritt. He also played the Barefoot Country Music Festival.
In 2016, he performed repeatedly with Willie Nelson.
Kid Rock’s 2013 show at Covelli Centre was one of the fastest sellouts in the venue’s history, so JAC knew he had strong appeal in this market.
Country artist Lee Brice, who performed to a capacity crowd at The Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre last year, also has strong appeal here. Pairing Rock and Brice for Y-Live was an easy decision.
“Lee Brice has local ties because his wife [Sara Reevely] is from Poland,” Bigley said. “He loves coming here. He has already played at Packard Music Hall, Covelli Centre and The Amp. During one of the pandemic years, he was slated to open for Luke Bryan, but the show got canceled.”
While Kid Rock and Brice are no strangers to Youngstown, Buckcherry might hold the crown for most shows in the Mahoning Valley.
“They’ve played every facility we ever managed,” Bigley said. “Since 2016, we had them in The Cellar (in Struthers), Packard Music Hall, The Amp and Covelli. At one point, it was like a running joke that they were a local band because they played so many shows here. But they are always well received and do a killer show.”
As for Kid Rock, there’s not much that hasn’t been said. The shoot from the hip rocker has made a living at saying what he thinks and not pulling punches, whether it be cultural, politics or just about anything.
The Detroit native is a multiplatinum recording artist who has long blended musical genres. His rap-rock phase of the ’90s spawned the hits “Bawitdaba” and “Cowboy.” Then came 2001’s “Picture of You,” a smash duet with Sheryl Crow.
Kid Rock sampled Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” in his 2007 hit “All Summer Long.”
He has sold almost 30 million records worldwide and earned a reputation as a commanding live performer.
His latest album, “Bad Reputation,” was released in 2022.
Brice’s string of hits includes “Memory I Don’t Mess With,” “One of Them Girls,” “I Hope Your Happy Now” and “Rumor.” His latest album, 2020’s “Hey World,” included the single “Soul.”
IF YOU ARE GOING
Those going to Y-Live need to keep a few things in mind.
Parking passes were sold in advance through ticketmaster for certain downtown lots and decks. Those who didn’t purchase a pass can find day of show parking at YSU for $10 (cash only) and also at random lots scattered throughout downtown (cash only). Youngstown State University police will direct patrons to the YSU parking areas. From those lots, patrons can either walk or take a free shuttle bus to the venue.
Both the South Avenue and Market Street bridges will close from 6:30 p.m. until the end of the concert.
Only clear and see-through bags no larger than 12” by 12” by 6” and clutches no larger than 8.5” by 5.5” by 1” will be permitted. Exceptions may be made for diaper bags or medical bags.
Also prohibited are chair bags (leave them in you car), coolers, umbrellas, professional cameras, food and beverage, and recording devices such as tablets and laptops.
Those with lawn tickets can bring a seat no higher than 16” off the ground, with a back no higher than 36”.
The will call window will be in the Covelli Centre box office.
It is strongly recommended to bring cash to the show to minimize wait times for concessions and merchandise purchases.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.