Rich Howells

Last summer concert at Pavilion at Montage Mountain is canceled, leaving Scranton venue closed

Last summer concert at Pavilion at Montage Mountain is canceled, leaving Scranton venue closed
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The last concert scheduled at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain in Scranton was quietly canceled last week, leaving the outdoor venue with an empty schedule for the first summer since it opened.

Over the last two months, all shows scheduled at Montage Mountain have either been canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic except for the Big Rock Summer Tour, which was set to bring ’80s glam metal acts Ratt, Cinderella’s Tom Keifer, Skid Row, and Slaughter to Scranton on Aug. 29. While the tour’s social media accounts haven’t been updated since April, Ratt issued a statement on June 15:

The Big Rock Summer Tour will no longer be taking place as originally scheduled this summer and fall. Tickets will automatically be refunded at point of purchase. Thank you for understanding.

Wilkes-Barre rock band Breaking Benjamin and Bush, followed by Korn and Faith No More, canceled their summer tours last month, and Chris Stapleton canceled his July 30 performance in Scranton and postponed the rest of his All-American Road Show. Kidz Bop Live also postponed its Montage show, which would have opened the summer concert season at the venue on June 17. Kidz Bop is now scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021.

The mountain’s biggest annual events, the Peach Music Festival and Camp Bisco, were canceled and rescheduled for the same weekends next year. The next Peach Fest will now be held on July 1-4, 2021 with the same headliners – the long-awaited reunion of Oysterhead (Trey Anastasio of Phish, Les Claypool of Primus, and Stewart Copeland of The Police), Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, and The String Cheese Incident – signed on to return. The Disco Biscuits’ Camp Bisco will be back on July 8-10, 2021.

This clears the entire 2020 schedule at The Pavilion, which marks the first time the mountain hasn’t hosted a concert since the Montage Mountain ski resort began hosting live music during the off-season in 1990. Montage built a temporary stage for concerts with lawn seating in 1992. As the shows increased in popularity, more seating was added and, in late 1999, construction began on a permanent venue that was ready by the summer of 2000. While changing names and management many times over the next 20 years, The Pavilion has consistently hosted events every year until now.

When asked if there were any other plans for the facility this year, venue operator Live Nation did not have any more information available to the public.

“Appreciate your interest here. As things continue to evolve, we’re monitoring the situation closely. We don’t have any specific details to share just yet, but let’s stay in touch as plans develop,” Live Nation told NEPA Scene in an email today.

“In regards to refunds, information on our policy, including the ability for fans to request a 150 percent credit for cancelled shows, can be found at livenation.com/refund. If fans have any questions about the status of their Live Nation event, they can check livenation.com/eventstatus at any time for the most up to date information.”

Water park still flowing in 2020

The adjacent Montage Mountain Waterpark (1000 Montage Mountain Rd., Scranton), however, is set to reopen this Friday, June 26 with coronavirus safety guidelines in place as Lackawanna County moves into the green phase of reopening.

Earlier this year, the ski resort was able to host Mountainfest with Gin Blossoms and the Tom Petty Appreciation Band on March 7, just before the state shut down. With a later start to the summer season, the resort’s other planned events have been delayed.

First introduced in 2019, the Lackawanna County Heritage Fair was originally scheduled to return on May 27-31, 2020 but has since been postponed “to an undermined date later this year,” according to a county press release.

The NEPA Yoga Festival has been pushed back to Aug. 1-2, 2020, and the Scranton Mac and Cheese Festival has been moved to April 10, 2021. The Inclusion Festival will now be presented online on Aug. 21-23, 2020, offering “a virtual gathering space where you can view or share ideas and activities for maintaining health, positivity, and togetherness at home. We also proudly supported a COVID-19 Relief Fund, created specifically to provide support to music lovers with disabilities and the musicians and event workers who work to include them in the live music scene,” according to the festival’s website.

Live Nation looks ahead

In a first quarter teleconference on May 7, Live Nation Entertainment President and CEO Michael Rapino said the company was “on track for tremendous growth across all our businesses with both fan demand and artist touring increasing on a global basis” this year, but in March, everything came to a halt as stay-at-home orders went into effect to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We recognize the experience at our venues will change when concerts start back up, and we are working with medical experts and public health officials on procedures to keep people safe while enjoying our shows,” he said.

“When we asked over 8,000 fans across North America about their requirements for returning to shows, they had two clear priorities – with 85 percent of fans stating they want increased cleaning and sanitizing of the venues and ready access to hand sanitizing stations, while no other actions received more than 40 percent support. In addition, we expect to have additional safety protocols in place, potentially including reduced capacity, touchless concessions, and creative ways to apply our digital ticketing technology.”

Rapino noted that that the company is working with federal and state governments on reopening phases and will let “facts and science” dictate when concerts should be held again, offering “Live From Home” streaming shows and new drive-in events in the meantime.

“We know from fans that demand will be there when the shows return. Globally, over 90 percent of fans are holding on to their tickets for rescheduled shows where refunds are available, which is the clearest demonstration of pent-up demand that will enable us to quickly start concerts back up,” he continued.

“Reinforcing this, in a global survey of 10,000 live musicgoers, over 90 percent indicate they will be back to concerts once possible to do so. Looking further out, given that 80 percent of shows have been rescheduled rather than canceled, and as we noted almost all fans are holding on to their tickets, we believe 2021 can return to show volume and fan attendance at levels consistent with what we’ve seen in recent years.”

This follows backlash Live Nation received in April after fans reported trouble receiving refunds for shows marked as “postponed” rather than canceled after some fine print on its website was allegedly edited. On April 16, U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell and Katie Porter wrote a letter to Live Nation and Ticketmaster criticizing their handling of the situation and urging them to help their customers in their time of need.

“A New York Times report found that this same Ticketmaster webpage used to read that refunds ‘are available if your event is postponed, rescheduled, or canceled’ and was quietly changed. In response, Ticketmaster has asserted that the change was made for ‘clarity,’ and your company then deflected responsibility to event organizers,” the letter said.

“Your claim that Ticketmaster’s refund policy was not changed but clarified is so absurd it insults the intelligence of your customers. Furthermore, given your enormous power over the marketplace, your company’s assertions that this inability to obtain a full refund for postponed events shows rings hollower than a drum. In effect, your company is holding hostage money that could constitute a rent check, electric bill, or groceries to feed children.

“There is no question that this crisis is badly hurting members of the live events community, from promising artists to striving promoters, small venue owners, set designers, concessionaires, and others. But given your market power, your responsibility to customers is broad.”

Ticketmaster President Jared Smith issued a response on April 17.

“Neither our clients, nor Ticketmaster, intend to withhold refunds on postponed shows. In fact, as of today, both Live Nation Entertainment and AEG Live, two of our largest event organizers, have announced they will begin to provide refunds, on a rolling basis, for all events impacted by COVID-19,” he said.

“The industry has come together to navigate this unprecedented time. We know fans are eager to return to live events, and collectively share in experiences with their favorite artists, athletes, and actors. We need time to manage through so we are all in a position for that to become a reality, and we look forward to the day when we can come together again.”

Fans who are seeking refunds for previously purchased tickets to any Live Nation show can visit livenationentertainment.com/ticketrefund for more information.