Live At The Drive-In: Buffett Was Early To The Scene

Sailing Away To The Drive-In:
Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images
– Sailing Away To The Drive-In:
Jimmy Buffett, pictured at KAABOO Del Mar music festival in Southern California in 2016, did a notable drive-in show in 2014.

As concert producers look for any possible avenue to create a live experience for music fans, the drive-in theater has become a primary destination for live shows in this pandemic-stricken summer of 2020. Plans for drive-in musical events have been popping up in various places all over the world in the past few weeks, and each day seems to bring news of another tour in the works.

But for one artist, playing live at the drive-in is old news – Jimmy Buffett’s been there and done that. Just six years ago, he was way ahead of the curve when he performed at the Coyote Drive-In in Fort Worth, Texas, in summer 2014. His June 19 performance that year with the Coral Reefer Band was not the result of social distancing or even just one more chance to entertain the throngs of Parrotheads who love nothing better than Margaritaville on an outdoor stage.
The Buffett show in Fort Worth was broadcast simultaneously to numerous drive-in theaters all over the country in an attempt to promote interest and attendance at America’s drive-ins. Many participating venues had upgraded their equipment to new digital hardware for a better cinema – and concert – experience. 
Since automobiles aren’t typically part of the concert scenario, there were some additional ground rules for attendees. For example, you couldn’t cram your car full of people for one flat price. Tickets started at a dear $125 per person, and pricier VIP tickets were available as well, topping out at $500.
There was also a charge for simulcast tickets at the other drive-ins around the country, but at a lower cost – generally $18 per person. The total number of those simulcast tickets is unknown, but ultimately the number of tickets bought to see Buffett live at the Coyote Drive-In numbered 1,126 for a gross of $164,000.
The concert, called “Live at the Drive-In,” was one stop on his “This One’s For You”  tour that played outdoor amphitheaters and stadiums in the U.S. during the summer of 2014. It began in May of that year, stretched through the end of August and was followed by a series of fall shows that included a traditional appearance at La Cigale in Paris and, later, a handful of American shed and arena dates.

The Fort Worth event was conceived by the owners of the theater in partnership with Austin-based indie promoter C3 Presents, which joined forces with Live Nation later that year. Buffett did a second performance

in the area just two days later at Toyota Stadium, a 20,000-seat soccer venue located near Dallas in the city of Frisco.

The Coyote is once again in the news as drive-in concerts gain popularity this summer. The Fort Worth venue is one of the destinations on the upcoming drive-in tour being planned by this week’s cover artist, Marc Rebillet. The one-man-show electronic/comedic tour is booked at a handful of drive-ins, some built in recent years and some many years ago, but all participants in the current renaissance of this decades-old entertainment locale.