Sometimes, under the right circumstances, the stars align, the heavens open up, and an amazing concert experience is born.
My friend and I pulled into one of the lower lots at the New York State Fairgrounds, with the intention of taking a shuttle to the Lakeview Amphitheater. It’s a smart move; a short ride to the venue and a quick escape out at the end of the night. As for the question of whether tailgating is allowed, the policy seems to be, don’t flaunt it. Many around us happily drank and smoked marijuana in their cars. Some threw a football around outside. Porta-potties where the shuttle picked us up were fairly clean.
Once the shuttle brought us to the venue, the lines to get in were daunting.
A good amount of marijuana was confiscated, thrown into the garbage, as young men tried to pull it back out.
Jhene Aiko was one of the opening acts.
She performed songs such as “The Worst.”
And “Post to Be.”
The spotty weather throughout the day saw brief downpours of rain then bright, blinding sun. But as the sun set, a large storm moved in and the rain soaked everyone on the lawn. Security allowed everyone to move under the pavilion, we stood in the aisle, with a great view of the stage. Around us, lighting struck with long horizontal cracks against the dark panorama landscape. With the bass pounding and a haze of smoke rising, it was a thrilling pressure on the body.
When Snoop and Wiz took the stage, their show was enhanced with trippy visuals on the big screen. Khalifa killed it with his positive vibes and hits such as “We Dem Boyz (Hold Up).”
And Snoop Dogg brought the classics such as “Gin and Juice” and “The Next Episode.”
Everywhere around us, people were openly smoking blunts and bowls. Security had to carry some people away as they passed out on the ground. Even the Republican Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, the spearhead of building the amphitheater, was there. As Katrina Tulloch of Syracuse.com put it in her review, the concert felt like one big, messed up family because everyone had to come into close contact under the pavillion due to the storm. The show would not have had the same vibe had we been spread out over the lawn. It turned a large venue, over a vast space, into an intimate setting. And for one brief moment that night, in the small, struggling city I’ve spent most of my life, Syracuse felt really cool.