San Diego’s Stadium Scene

San Diego’s venerable Street Scene festival got a new home this year, moving from the Gaslamp District of the California coastal city to the massive parking lots of Qualcomm Stadium.

Street Scene producer Rob Hagey told Pollstar that the 21st annual fest drew about 75,000 over two days, down slightly from last year. But the move to Qualcomm proved to be a boon for the event, giving crowds – not to mention stage crews – more room to maneuver without the constriction of narrow streets around stages.

“Last year, we had a trolley that actually bisected the entire venue with the track, with trolleys going back and forth,” Hagey said. “The audience would halt, wait and then go through after the trolley had gone by. It was really not very safe.

“Furthermore, the streets narrowed and stages would empty from one to the next. It created a real elbow-to-elbow, butt-to-butt kind of situation.

“The move to Qualcomm did two things: It continued to keep our urban vibe of the event with a party atmosphere and the lighting effects we do to create it,” Hagey continued. “Plus, we had the room to move. We didn’t have skyscrapers around us but we certainly had a trolley that supported the event and ran over the venue (instead of through it).

“We lit the bridge that supported the trolley; we took colored gel lighting and lit the entire parking venue with all sorts of colored gels. There was a wonderful hill in the venue that we used that created a sort of natural amphitheatre that made viewing amazing for the entire event and, in particular, the Best Buy main stage.”

The trolley, which delivered festival-goers right to the scene, was a hit not only with music fans but at least one musician: The Flaming Lips‘ Wayne Coyne even gave it a spin.

In addition to the Lips, featured acts at Street Scene included Pixies, The Killers, The White Stripes, Social Distortion, Black Eyed Peas, Garbage, Kasabian, Hot Hot Heat and other top artists, drawing comparisons to the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.

Overall, Hagey gave the Qualcomm site an enthusiastic thumbs-up, despite the slight decline in attendance.

“It gave us what we’ve been known to do in the past – creating a real visual event and, at the same time, giving you room to move,” he said.

“There’s a lot of different things we did about the event this year that, overall, gave people walking out of the event a really good feeling for what’s in store for next year.”

— Deborah Speer