Free concert crowd among largest seen at park

Journey tribute band attracts estimated 8,000 downtown

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

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For more information on the summer concert series, visit http://www.cityofvancouver.us/concerts

For Randy Godwin, watching the Journey cover band Stone in Love play in Vancouver was almost as good as when he saw the real Journey perform in San Francisco in 1978 and 1982.

Godwin, who lives downtown, and about 8,000 others watched Stone in Love play Thursday night in Esther Short Park. It was a huge turnout for the already popular series of free concerts.

“It was so awesome,” said Godwin, 48. “It was astounding. There was no room. On several songs more than 6,000 people were standing and clapping.”

It was one of the biggest crowds anyone recalls seeing at the summer concerts series sponsored by Riverview Community Bank and the city of Vancouver, said Stacey Donovan, the city events coordinator.

“I was talking to my food vendors and contractors and they all said it was the largest group they’ve seen,” Donovan said. “It’s hard to get exact numbers, but if I had to guess I would say there were about 8,000 people there. This band is very well known and they have quite a following.”

Last year, the largest crowd at a summer concert was about 6,000, with an average turnout of 4,000 to 5,000 people, she said. This year, the turnouts have been larger, with about 7,000 people showing up for the two concerts prior to Stone in Love, Donovan said.

Perfect weather also helped draw even more people to Thursday’s free concert, which finished without any issues despite the turnout, she said.

“We are prepared,” Donovan said. “We have a couple of Vancouver police on site, and several of us also stay in the park to keep an eye on things. But it was calm, it went smoothly. There wasn’t a single incident that any of us had to deal with.”

The city and sponsors of the series were so impressed with the band that they’re already talking to the talent agent to try to book them again next summer, she added.

If the weather stays nice, the Aug. 9 concert with Radical Revolution in the park from 6 to 8 p.m. could see a similarly large crowd.

“A few of the members of Stone in Love are also in Radical Revolution, which is an ‘80s cover band,” Donovan said. “We’ll see if the weather holds. We’re really trying to build community downtown and to bring people to the downtown core with these concerts.”

Godwin said he’s excited to see Radical Revolution. The atmosphere during the Stone in Love concert was very warm and welcoming and he’d love to see that repeated, he said.

“All the apartments around the park, everybody was out on their decks enjoying the music,” Godwin said. “It was an amazing sight.”