After a year of controversy at the Piers evening concert series, the first show of 2017 brought smaller crowds to a reimagined Twilight on the Pier event.
No official attendance count was available by press time but the crowds were visibly smaller than last year and Negin Singh, Executive Director of the Pier, said the crowd size was a good place to start the revamped season.
“We really had no idea what to expect for the first event, so for me, the fact that we weren’t empty or overrun with people was a win,” she said. “We had a manageable crowd that grew steadily through the night, and given that again, things are so new, and that we really pulled back on marketing until we knew what the full picture was going to look like, I think we had a turnout that I feel comfortable growing responsibly.”
Lt. Saul Rodriguez said the emergency services approached the first show knowing it would be different but prepared to handle the kind of large crowds that were seen in 2017. He said the Department wouldn’t reveal specific details of any individual show’s security plan but said SMPD would be adapting their approach as they gather data from this year’s shows, including staffing levels appropriate to the crowd size.
“It is being evaluated to see what is the best possible amount of resources we need,” he said. “We ramped it up for the first one. There were several different moving parts we were dealing with that were different from previous years.”
He said the inaugural show didn’t reach anywhere close to last year’s attendance, possibly due to the change of date, cold weather or different stage layout.
“It definitely didn’t reach capacity or close to being shut down,” he said. “It was never near that. Overall on our end there were no hiccups, no concerns, nothing that raised public safety concerns at the concert.”
This year, the show included three stages scattered around the Pier with an additional arts component and a renewed focus on cultural education.
Singh said there are some details that will change as they learn specific lessons week to week but said the first show went well.
“What was so special, difficult and huge about this experience is that even though Twilight has been around for a long time, we were doing things so differently that it was a totally new experience for everyone putting it on,” she said. “I think with how much we needed to reimagine to make this a sustainable event for the Pier and the city, I’m really happy with our first effort here.”
The 2018 shows feature more artists connected to the musical theme and Singh said they will be increasing the number of artists at each show. What she can’t control is the change in weather caused by shifting the shows into the autumn.
“The weather was pretty chilly, and that is the number one factor as to whether or not people go out in LA,” she said. “It was very windy for the first few hours, which derailed some of our art plans with canvases blowing in the wind! We’re also going to be staggering each of the performances on the different stages so people can enjoy more of the sets.”
She said initial skepticism of the multi-stage format eventually transitioned to an understanding that while the new format doesn’t have the same feeling as year’s past, it does have its own merits.
“I think for people who wanted a giant beach party, there was obviously going to be some disappointment there,” she said. “Change is hard, but I think overall, we’re going to win folks over. Also, people LOVED Jarina De Marco, the opening act on the main stage, which was awesome because she’s been on my radar for a while and it was great to share her music with people who might not have heard of her yet!”
The shows continue for the next four weeks on Wednesday evenings starting at 6:30 on the Santa Monica Pier.