Erm, sorry for the redundant posts—juliew and I must have been composing at the same time.
I’m sorta confused as to why they seem to be fighting so hard to keep the new Ingalls Mall space—it’s cute, but if you actually want to sit and watch the band or the movie, the new place seems to have less good spots.
Yeah Bruce, I’m with you on this one. I think the Ingalls mall area was good as a back-up, but I don’t like it as well as the parking structure. I think people who are going for the outdoor picnic ambiance like Ingalls Mall better. It certainly does have more shade. But if you are going just to watch a band or a movie, there isn’t much seating and the views are pretty consistently blocked. It used to be fun to be able to walk around the circuit and see people, but now there is no natural circulation so it is harder to randomly meet up with friends. It also seems much more crowded and harder to walk through the seating areas.
On a good note, I see that Silvios Pizza is one of the new vendors. Yum! The vendor’s list is good—mostly local (Zoup! is at least a Michigan chain). On a down note, the “Festival Apparel” available on the website is not only boring, but it is done through CafePress based out of California instead of any local printers. Can anyone explain to me why they would rather go with an internet printer in California rather than Underground Printing or Elmos which are both based in Ann Arbor?
The parking structure was once a decent venue for the festival but over the years the University removed all plantings to turn it into a blazing moonscape. Sure, things were set up there to see bands and movies but lets be honest…who really went/goes to TOP to see the lame-o bands that are there? Seriously. You go there to see people you haven’t seen in a while, meet up with friends, and to hang out with a crowd. There’s music in the background, sure.
In my opinion the new venue on Ingalls mall is vastly superior for this type of event. Last year those folks on poles took the town by storm. Theres no way that type of thing could happen on the parking deck. I believe that if you were to ask, you would find that attendance is way up, revenues from concessions are way up and visibility within the community is way up.
They need to tweak a few things and it looks like they are learning and evolving as they go but it is so much better in the new location that i can’t ever imagine it going back.
Hey imjustsayin!! I totally agree with you :) Yay!!
Seriously, I love the new location as well!! I remember being at the parking structure and watching all of these kids climb up all over stuff on the concrete surfaces while their parents were off somewhere else. I was always afraid someone was going to fall (it’s always fun until someone falls/pokes their eyes out/pees their pants).
OK Bruce, so I was a little over the top in my generalization of the bands. I have also seen bands there that were good and that I was suprised by. Imjustsayin that the bands are not the reason most people go. Its the whole atmosphere.
As I only moved to Ann Arbor after they started using Ingalls Mall as the Top of the Park venue, I was never able to check it out on the Parking Structure… but to be honest the whole concept of it doesn’t really sound all that appealing to me. Parking structures as a whole aren’t incredibly inviting environments, and I find Ingalls Mall to be a fun place to hang around, or hell, sit in the grass and watch a free flick.
Additionally, I think the bands that play at Top of the Park are pretty interesting as a whole… a very eclectic bunch. You can’t expect to go every day and like everyone, however… you need to plan out what bands you want to see. Personally, I’m looking forward to Laith Al-Saadi on Thursday.
Parking structures as a whole aren’t incredibly inviting environments
I guess that is part of why it was so cool, it actually worked on top of the parking structure. In part because it had a natural flow around the top and because the seats were sloped so you could actually see the bands on the stage. It created an amphitheatre-setting which the new venue just doesn’t have. But there wasn’t much room to spread out, which became a problem in later years when it became more popular.
who really went/goes to TOP to see the lame-o bands that are there?
Hmm, that’s a pretty nasty thing to say mjustsayin! There are about 60 bands playing and I was told over 300 bands applied for those slots. My husband is in one of the bands playing, my boss is in another, and I have friends in others. For a lot of local bands and their fans, this is the best gig all summer. Just because you don’t go to hear the bands, doesn’t mean other people don’t. I can have a quiet picnic anywhere. TOP isn’t really anything without the bands and the movies.
JulieW, like i said, perhaps a bit over the top in my comment. I know, I know, quite unlike most blog post comments. With that said, my sister is in a band playing TOP. That doesn’t mean her band isn’t lame-o. And it is.
I disliked the simmering concrete and all-around unpleasant environment of the parking structure on hot nights and have found myself going much more often to Ingalls. Seems to me attendance has rebounded, but maybe I’m wrong. Should be easy enough to figure out—does anybody have figures for vendor receipts?
And I do go for the bands and movies rather than to hang out. The acoustics I would say are a wash—not great in either place.
I liked it better in the old place. It’s super cool that the elevator shaft makes a good movie screen and that the parking ramp slants the right direction for theater seating! Like Juliew says, it was easier to find people and the bands and movies were easier to see and hear. It also seems like it was better for people with little kids — I don’t see as many toddlers dancing up front?
A musician I had never heard of played last night, Caroline Wonderland (from Austin). She was outstanding! Her voice and singing were a lot like Janis Joplin’s, and she played a hot guitar. I was sorry that the earlier-threatening weather kept the crowd down. I mostly love TOP for the atmosphere and seeing friends, but many of the familiar bands are terrific, and every once in a while, I am introduced to a new good band! Thank you, Ann Arbor Summer Festival. Long may you wave…