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Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood tops Pollstar ranking

The Dave Matthews Band was one of the sell-outs at Lakewood Amphitheatre this season. Photo credit: Raymond Hagans

The Dave Matthews Band was one of the sell-outs at Lakewood Amphitheatre this season. Photo credit: Raymond Hagans

Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood made an impressive showing in a recent Pollstar ranking.

The concert industry magazine has ranked the Atlanta amphitheater No. 1 in the Southeast and No. 11 in the world based on ticket sales between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year. On the worldwide chart, Lakewood moved more than 82,000 tickets in that period; the No. 1 venue was Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, with 147, 797 tickets.

The venue, which has spruced up its exterior this season with the addition of a new VIP area, better signage and food trucks on site, benefited from some big-selling shows.

Macon’s Jason Aldean celebrated his first-ever double sell-out with shows in May, while Dave Matthews Band and Jimmy Buffett also sold out the 19,000-capacity amphitheater (7,000 covered, 12,000 on the lawn). Other near-capacity concerts included the Zac Brown Band, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard.

New adds to the Lakewood calendar include the rescheduled Miranda Lambert show Oct. 5; Rascal Flatts with Little Big Town, Eli Young Band and Edens Edge on Oct. 20; and Rob Zombie with Marilyn Manson Oct. 25.

Next up at the venue is the Identity Festival (Eric Prydz, Wolfgang Gartner, Madeon, etc.); Aug. 2; Carnival of Madness (Evanescence, Chevelle, etc.) Aug. 10; Flashback Festival (Ohio Players, The Bar-Kays, etc.) Aug. 11; and Jason Mraz with Christina Perri Aug. 18.

Check www.livenation.com for ticket info.

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By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene

50 comments Add your comment

TOMJ

July 30th, 2012
1:42 pm

Yeah, Lakewood’s great if you like $11 beers and walking thru the hood to get to the ampitheater.

TOMJ

July 30th, 2012
1:45 pm

Oh, and then there’s the TSA-like pat down to get thru the gate.

Turtle Man

July 30th, 2012
1:45 pm

one would think the artists/fan themselves should be polled and not simply base these “results” on ticket sales. but that’s just me – a backwoods, country turtle hunter

Turtle Man

July 30th, 2012
1:47 pm

the one and only thing Lakewood has that most others don’t = good parking

OTP

July 30th, 2012
1:47 pm

I have never been there, and never plan to go there. That area has been considered dangerous for a very long time.

NativeGeorgian

July 30th, 2012
1:48 pm

I do not feel safe parking anywhere except the Aaron’s lot. They charge $25. a car. It’s a rip-off to attend concerts now days. When I was a teenager we could get tickets for $10-20. I’d rather stay home now and spend my money elsewhere.

Turtle Man

July 30th, 2012
1:49 pm

it’s not too bad. Alpharetta or Duluth is just as dangerous with all of the police around

Turtle Man

July 30th, 2012
1:50 pm

I’ll be there to see Phish in late-August

lC

July 30th, 2012
1:51 pm

Aaron’s is horrible…. I don’t even like to go to certain shows becasue of that place. Verizon Amphitheatre is 110% better, cleaner, better parking, and easier to get out off…

CP

July 30th, 2012
1:54 pm

All except for ATL PD, directing you away from I75 when you leave the east lot!!!

Ben Shockley

July 30th, 2012
1:54 pm

It’ll always be Lakewood Amphiteater for me. I never called it Hi-Fi Buys, and refuse to call it Aarons. As stated above, the parking is great, free, and a short stroll to your seat. It’s also convenient to the freeway. All in all, a cool place to see a show and I’ve had some great memories there over the years. The food and drink proces are highway robbery, but it’s the same at Phillips, Gwinnett Arena, and Verizon Wireless, so, what the heck…

Seriously?

July 30th, 2012
1:56 pm

The place is swarming with drunk buttheads starting fights. I’ve never been there and not seen multiple fights. I even got pushed down the hill on the lawn when two guys came rolling down it, beating the crap out of each other. That place sucks.

EN

July 30th, 2012
1:56 pm

All I can say about Lakewood is parking sucks!!

Security at Lakewood

July 30th, 2012
2:00 pm

Security at Lakewood is terrible. They are very rude to the customer. I saw them beat someone at the Kiss show. They had five security guys on one person beating the hell out of him. The whole time he was yelling I’m not resisting, they kept hitting him. It is pretty sad when you see that.

Chris

July 30th, 2012
2:26 pm

What up with the hood. Crime is up everywhere not just the HOOD watch the news @ TOMJ. Is that what you were referring to?

circle R

July 30th, 2012
2:29 pm

Lakewood blows. Lousy location and always takes at least an hour to get out of the lot after a show. I have avoided more than one good show simply because it was booked there. They need to do a survey based on more than just ticket sales, I doubt it would fare so well.

Bryan Stone

July 30th, 2012
2:44 pm

Lakewood sucks. Been to many many different venues and it ranks near dead last for me.

Uncork Atlanta

July 30th, 2012
2:49 pm

Ready for a little gone phishin’…Historic Outdoor ATL venue stay home weaklings #couchtour

Chris

July 30th, 2012
2:51 pm

If you wait till its over and everbody is leaving at the same time it’s going to be traffic. The Dome, Philips Arena and any other venue will be the same way.

Billy

July 30th, 2012
2:54 pm

I haven’t been to this place since it was the Southeastern Fair in the mid 70s; Burt Reynolds has been there since then…

LJ

July 30th, 2012
3:04 pm

Lakewood is terrible – MARTA is a pain to take there and driving there is an even bigger pain – and back and the sound system sucks. Verizon is a much, MUCH better venue.

I'll take...

July 30th, 2012
3:04 pm

…Encore Park in Alpharetta any day over Lakewood…

Chris

July 30th, 2012
3:18 pm

Verizon got traffic to. Been there before

Mike

July 30th, 2012
3:27 pm

I had rocks in my shoes from walking so far on the VANS WARPED TOUR..PAID 30 BUCKS FOR PARKING AND NO COOLING STATIONS WHICH THEY SAID THEY WOULD HAVE..NEVER DO THAT AGAIN…KID ROCK WAS GOOD..REM WAS GOOD…JOAN JETT, OK

havin_a_ball

July 30th, 2012
3:38 pm

Lakewood has a MARTA bus shuttle that goes to the train & free parking, but is not nearly nice as Encore. It’s still a big outdoor venue in Atlanta and the crowd dictates the vibe.

The security is nuts for some shows, the surroundings are dangerous, and the facility reminds me of a college field house.

If a band I like plays there, I’ll take Lakewood over having to go to Alpharetta, but only b/c it’s a lot closer. Lakewood is a pretty good reflection of Atlanta IMHO

Pat

July 30th, 2012
3:51 pm

This must be a joke.

Sex Appeal

July 30th, 2012
3:54 pm

Lakewood rocks! Saw Maiden and Mayhem this year! Slayer and Maiden rule! Lots of sexy cougar women at Kiss and Motley show! Gene Simmons probably had to change drawers after seeing the Atlanta Babes!

Lucky Dog

July 30th, 2012
3:55 pm

Lakewood is tops in the Southeast?

Really? You’ve GOT TO BE putting me on here.

I feel like I am going through a post-war-zone ghetto whenever I go there, like a scene where “The Walking Dead” had been filmed around town.

Unless Carlos Santana plays there again the next time he is in town, I don’t foresee going back there anytime soon.

Was this survey conducted, and PAID FOR, by Aaron’s?

J

July 30th, 2012
4:02 pm

Lakewood sucks. Besides being a dump and in the ghetto, I got arrested there at a Phish concert…so all you people going in August watch your back!!! Lots of undercover APD officers.

Jeff

July 30th, 2012
4:17 pm

Melissa — where do I start with this???

Turtle Man @ 1:45 p.m. had it dead-on: why not poll the FANS as to what venues they like best and NOT just base it on ticket sales? To me, the very stipulation of the poll is flawed, and the fact that it is in a trade magazine by the concert industry tells me all I need to know.

As a veteran of more than 100 concerts all over Atlanta over the past 15 or 20 years, let me give you a REALISTIC breakdown:

Yes, most people on this blog are absolutely right: the traffic and logistics in navigating to Lakewood are a nightmare. Where the ampitheatre is located and the one-way-in, one-way-out situation make it very, very difficult to get there unless you plan 3 hours to spend in your car. It is NOT in a safe neighborhood (the Federal Pen is just a few blocks away for God’s sake), and you have to seriously weigh whether or not a show is worth it when you see that it’s at Lakewood. Some concerts, knowing how horrendous the traffic and parking are, I have decided against going for that very reason.

On the plus side, Lakewood DOES have a big parking lot and, other than Philips Arena, it’s the biggest capacity for big shows (not including the Georgia Dome, which very rarely hosts concerts because the acoustics are terrible). Lakewood’s staff has always been pretty efficient and security seems to be reasonable. The food and drink prices are outrageous, but they are pretty much anywhere you go. As for ticket prices, I NEVER pay three figures the way some retail sites or ticket brokers advertise… I have my ways and I can usually get a good seat to a good concert for around $40. In this day and age, that’s not bad for 3 or 4 hours of entertainment.

As for ranking Lakewood, I might have to give it high marks for parking and seating (pretty much good sight lines everywhere, including the lawn), but the traffic problems make it not my favorite venue. Personally, I love Philips — nobody around you blowing smoke (cigarette or otherwise) in your face, it is climate controlled, the seats are good pretty much everywhere, and the sound is pretty decent… however, parking downtown can be a disaster if you don’t plan ahead. And Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta is AWESOME… they just need to bring more top-of-the-line shows there. The parking is TREMENDOUS, it’s easy to get in and out of, there are multiple routes TO get there and get home, and the staff is incredibly courteous. The only downside is that the capacity is probably 30 percent less than Lakewood. And don’t get me started about some of the other odd places I’ve seen concerts around here — the old Omni, Turner Field, even the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Oh, and Chastain — you’re at the mercy of the elements and it feels really small, but the park is very unique, the staff is friendly, and the sightlines are great.

I would hope that one of the T-SPLOST projects would go toward cleaning out the congested cluster-muck that is the Lakewood area, but that won’t happen. That’s the biggest downside of that concert venue, but if it’s an artist or show that I really want to see, I have no hesitation going there — you just have to plan ahead, allow a few hours, take some food and drink to eat in the car before you go in, and go to the restroom before you leave to come home — you might be out there in traffic for a while!

Atlanta Native

July 30th, 2012
4:19 pm

Hey J – you say you got arrested. What were you smoking, anyway? I saw a guy being pulled out of the stands for smoking pot at the John Mayer concert at Verizon, so if you do something illegal, expect legal consequences – anywhere.

dre

July 30th, 2012
4:20 pm

Well, true Lakewood stinks compared to Verizon, but at least the Alpharetta city council can’t strongarm promoters for the Lakewood tickets

KevB

July 30th, 2012
4:25 pm

For people complaining about parking, you should be aware that there is almost alway FREE parking available in the amphitheater’s parking lot on Lakewood Ave.

Chris

July 30th, 2012
4:25 pm

Thanks Atlanta Native some of these people are straight clowns. Most of yall Just need to learn to enjoy life hell you get stuck in traffic all over Atl so what else is new. Leave the neighborhood alone bc I’m sure some of yall are trash to.

Melissa Ruggieri

July 30th, 2012
4:26 pm

Hey everyone,

Keep in mind that this Pollstar story said nothing about Lakewood being the best, the safest or the prettiest – which seems to be what people are debating about the most. It’s just a report on simple math. Lakewood is a big venue that has brought in a lot of big shows this season. It, like every venue in every city, has its flaws, but obviously enough people are supporting these shows and buying enough tickets to push it to the top in sales in the Southeast and pretty high in the world ranking.

But you are welcome to debate the merits and detriments of any venue in Atlanta, as long as we keep it civilized!

Thanks,
Melissa

Cutty

July 30th, 2012
4:32 pm

I see the 2nd amendment-loving scared of everything peeps are out in full force. I don’t think the Dave Matthews Band or Jimmy Buffett think Lakewood is so dangerous since they booked their shows there. Even w the opportunity to go to Verizon. I’ve been there and Alpharetta PD setup a road block coming eight out the parking lot. I’ll take Lakewood anyday. Easy parking and easy access if you know how to get there. You scared, doomsday preppers stay away from there since you hate it so much. You only being your Ga 400 style traffic jams to the southside.

Rob

July 30th, 2012
4:35 pm

Chris: Of course every entertainment venue is going to have traffic when the event is over. However, the traffic flow can be much better at one compared to another. It’s called planning. Verizon beats Lakewood in every possible aspect. The crowd is the only thing that can sometimes be more problematic at Verizon. This is because sometimes the concentration of punk preppy kids is a bit too high as mommy and daddy have nothing better to do with their money other than give it to their entitled kids to go to concerts they have no business being at. Still, I’d take Verizon any day and I’ve been to a dozen plus shows at both venues.

I’ve never been to an amphitheater in the SE that didn’t have plenty of free parking, be it Lakewood, Walnut Creek in Raleigh, Verizon in Alpharetta, Verizon in Charlotte, Ford (Ask Gary) in Tampa, Oak Mountain in Birmingham, Cruzan in West Palm Beach or even the closed Starwood in Nashville. If you want to see how traffic planning should be done, go to a show in West Palm. Even at it’s pre-show height, you’ll wait maximum 10 minutes getting into the lot. I just went to two shows and didn’t wait even 5 minutes. The reverse is true when leaving. It’s a thing of beauty. The lot borders an 8 lane highway and they actually make sure there are enough police to get you in and out. No fending for yourself like at many venues.

Additionally, out of all of those, Lakewood is without a doubt in the most run-down, dangerous area by far.

Jeff

July 30th, 2012
4:38 pm

Melissa — I agree with you. However, I think we as fans are saying that it’s not really a fair evaluation for publications like that to evaluate venues just based SOLELY on ticket sales. Yes, Lakewood is probably the biggest outdoor venue in Atlanta and probably one of the biggest in the South, but as you can see, many fans are upset with some issues that seem to continue to plague Lakewood for YEARS, dating back to the late 1980s. Yes, you’re right, Lakewood has brought in some big shows this season, but it does EVERY year because there’s not any other venues that can offer the same ticket sales and seating capacity as Lakewood. But from reading the comments, many fans agree with me — that given a choice, other venues are much more appealing. In other words, we buy tickets to a concert at Lakewood because there aren’t any other OPTIONS — if the same show was at Philips or Verizon or somewhere else, you’d better BELIEVE I’d go there rather than Lakewood.

A couple of questions I wonder if you could look into for future blogs: No. 1, how can customers give feedback to the management at Lakewood. Try it sometime — it is IMPOSSIBLE. They need to be more fan-accessible and fan-friendly if patrons have genuine concerns or questions. No. 2, why was Verizon built with such a small capacity? And 3,000 or so more seats, and I think it competes pretty well with Lakewood in terms of attracting shows. No. 3, who makes the ultimate decision as to which venue gets certain concerts? And No. 4, maybe do a history-comparison thing with various sites around Atlanta — I’d love to know the history, some unique facts, statistics, and contact info about each indoor and outdoor venue around Atlanta (Chastain, Verizon, Fox, Philips, Dome, Lakewood, the old Omni, and the amphitheaters in Mableton and Peachtree City).

Thanks — very good topic today!

Sex Appeal

July 30th, 2012
4:41 pm

The twin evil show coming October 25th with Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson will scare the socks of the hoodlums in the hood! Danger is part of the attraction of Lakewood! Seeing the sexy cougar chicks at the 80’s hair band shows is cool also!

Chris

July 30th, 2012
4:43 pm

@ Rob you got some valid points and yes Lakewood may not be located in Buckhead but int todays world crime is happening in everyones neighborhood is all I am saying! Nobody is bothering to many people when these shows are going on maybe a few but not like that no venue is perfect.

Rob

July 30th, 2012
4:43 pm

Cutty: Are you serious? The performers have their own security and get shuttled right to the dressing rooms. Also, DMB played an awesome show at Verizon back in 2009. I was there. The only reason they continue to play Lakewood is the size. They always sell it out and Verizon is even smaller. I’ve also never had an issue with PD roadblocks there. Even if they are there, why would that be an issue unless you were driving drunk?

Rob

July 30th, 2012
4:48 pm

Chris: I’ll totally give you that. I don’t let it deter me from going to shows there if it’s someone I want to see. Though there are most certainly areas more crime prone than others. I stick to the lots, the paths in and out, and the venue itself. I always walk with other groups of people and stay aware of my surroundings. That’s for any place. Following that set of rules, I’ve never personally felt unsafe anywhere, including Lakewood.

uglyredhonda

July 30th, 2012
5:35 pm

Lakewood is a terrible venue, simply based on its construction. The sightlines are awful – the entire venue doesn’t have a steep enough slope. It’s a victim of being one of the first of its kind. If you travel out of town to any similar venue built since the mid-90s, the slope is notably steeper, to the point where people can sit on the lawn and see the stage. At Lakewood, if the people in the front set of seats are standing, people in the second set have to stand in their seats, and people in the back section of seats have to stand on the armrests. At that point, the stage isn’t visible from the lawn – you basically end up watching the show on the screens, which is completely unacceptable.

If they’re selling this many tickets, Lakewood should be reconstructed. The roof should be replaced and raised to a shaper angle. The main stage and seating area should be excavated, with the removed dirt moved to the lawn to put the entire venue at a steeper slope. It would probably not be an inexpensive endeavor, but it would be the most responsible thing for Live Nation to do to justify having shows there.

roofusdoofus

July 30th, 2012
7:29 pm

Lake”hood” is what it should be called… for real, this is the WORST place in Atl to see a show.. crappy parking, lawn is totally sun baked all day or a mud pit, sketchy neighborhood.. 1 road in & 1 road out … average sound at best… go to chastain, the mable house, or even Alpharetta..

roofusdoofus

July 30th, 2012
7:35 pm

lol Phish & DMB.. straight poseur bands..no wonder they don’t allow them w/in the city limits..

OTP

July 30th, 2012
10:13 pm

Could it be that the artists that play Lakewood and Chastain take away more money playing there? I am constantly amazed at the acts Chastain is able to book. For example, I would love to go see Diana Krall; but she played the Fox her first time here, and has played Chastain ever since. I am also disenchanted by how few good acts play the Arena At Gwinnett. I sure cannot figure out how they booked The Who.

shelby

July 31st, 2012
12:03 pm

i’m not surprised DMB was one of the sellouts…their new album is going to be awesome, i’ve already pre-ordered it on their website!

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concertfan

August 2nd, 2012
10:40 am

It just says ticket sales. The Venue sucks. The beer stands are old and ugly. Reminds me of high school. The parking lot is a disaster if it rains. It is on the hill if you park in VIP at the end of the parking lot you walk through a small ocean. Verizon offers free parking same beer prices and nicer people.

fenderman

August 2nd, 2012
12:33 pm

I have never had any issues at Lakewood. I caught the Maiden show and it was great.
However, since I live in Suwanee, I will only attend Lakewood shows on Saturday
or Sunday.