Fans fight traffic for Zac Brown Band, but it’s no Luke Bryan fiasco
Concertgoers fought rush-hour traffic and a crawling highway exit loop to get to the Zac Brown Band show Friday night at KeyBank Pavilion near Burgettstown.
Still, many fans said getting into the outdoor amphitheater proved easier than prior events at the notoriously log-jammed venue.
“Traffic was horrible,” lamented Elaina DiBucci, 23, of Shaler, as she and a few fellow Slippery Rock University graduates sipped beer and took photos before heading inside.
“No, no, because it wasn’t backed up all the way on (Routes) 22-30,” chimed in one of her tailgating buddies, Richard McDonough.
He said in his experience, Saturday night concerts oftentimes pose more problems.
“On Saturday concerts, the traffic is a lot worse … all backed up on the highway,” McDonough said. “They’ve gotten a lot better since they put the two lanes in coming off the exit. … I think if they brought more people in the back way, it would help a lot.”
A combination of fewer people and concerted efforts to improve parking, security and help facilitated by guest services workers — such as golf carts to escort people around the lots — may have contributed to the smoother customer experienced for most. Especially when compared to the likes of past overcrowding fiascos at Luke Bryan and Jimmy Buffet shows.
Officials opened up a large grassy hill in the back for extra parking that is not always available. Several parking spaces remained available a short walk from the East Gate entrance even after the show began.
“It was not as bad as Luke Bryan, but it was not good,” said Terri Palamone of Murrysville, who spent about 2.5 hours driving to the venue in Hanover from Pittsburgh’s eastern suburbs, and grew increasingly impatient when she came to a dead stop at the highway exit.
The venue is located off of Route 18, a four-lane highway, near its intersection with Route 22-30. Concertgoers turn off of the four-lane highway onto the two-lane Star Lake Lane before parking.
“People are driving up to the end and cutting in, and it’s really hard when you’ve waited for 30 minutes, to allow somebody to come in front of you,” Palamone said.
Terri’s daughter, 19-year-old Isabel Palamone, missed half of the last Luke Bryan show at KeyBank. Not only did she and her friends sit in traffic for more than two hours, but her crew then spent another four hours waiting in the security line. They missed the opening act and nearly half the show.
She used one word to describe the mood among the crowd of people who couldn’t get in: “Hostile.”
Live Nation did issue refunds for those who missed Jimmy Buffet last summer, but offered no such relief for fans at the June 7 Luke Bryan show.
Officials from the venue and Hanover Township declined to comment on the delays at the venue other than encouraging concertgoers to arrive early.
Evening shows have been a problem at the venue, which has been known a handful of names — Star Lake Amphitheater and First Niagara Pavilion among them — since it opened in 1990.
Reports from its first shows, two sold-out Billy Joel concerts, note traffic problems. Traffic backed up to five miles on Route 22-30 before the Route 18 exit to the venue in 1992 when the Grateful Dead played a pair of shows.
This time around, just about everyone who wanted to made it inside the pavilion before 8 or 8:30 p.m. Friday, minutes after the Zac Brown Band took the stage.
By 9 p.m., only a few stragglers who didn’t seem to want to give up tailgating quite yet remained in the parking lots or walking through the almost-empty security lines as Zac Brown Band played the emotionally charged ballad, “Highway 20 Ride.”
Shauna Wilcox, 23, an aviation mechanic from Bridgeport, W. Va., was among Zac Brown Band concert-goers relieved that traffic and parking did not pose major delays that forced anyone to miss the show.
“We didn’t have that hard of a time getting here, getting in,” Wilcox said.
Her mom, Tina Wilcox, starts chemotherapy treatment for Stage 3 breast cancer on Tuesday. Tina Wilcox won a pair of tickets on the radio.
It’s the first concert she’s attended since seeing the Eagles perform about the time Shauna was born.
“I’m just happy to be able to spend time with my mom while I have her,” Shauna Wilcox said.
Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter .