History of Wings Event Center Points Up How Things Have Changed
"There’s a new article up on the Kalamazoo Public Library website about the concert history of Wings Stadium (now Wings Event Center)… of course the stadium hasn’t vanished but most (but not all) of the pop and rock concerts have."
That's the start of a post from Keith Howard at the Kalamazoo Public Library on Vanished Kalamazoo. First of all, let's just say, Keith did an amazing job of chronicling all the concerts that have played on arena on Vanrick Drive. And the reaction from readers points up just how many people have so many memories.
But if you take a step back, it's also kind of bittersweet. Maybe because of my age and having lived here for so long, reading the article makes you realized how much has changed. Specific to Wings, when Van Andel Arena was built and opened in 1996, it took so much of the concert business away from Wings, and from Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek and even its own neighbor in Grand Rapids across 131, the recently closed Delta Plex. Yes, it's all about money and Van Andel's bigger capacity, of course, equated to bigger paydays for the promoters and the acts.
But take a look at the demographics of both the acts in the list from 1974 (first show, the Chambers Brothers) and of the audience. Rock and roll bands were everywhere in 1974, and they were all touring, and read the comments on Vanished Kalamazoo from people who paid $6 or $7 dollars to see a top tier band. Other than Frankenmuth's Greta Van Fleet and a few others, name a popular new rock band that isn't at least ten or twenty years old.
But also, unless you're under the age of, say 25, how many bands and performers do you even want to see? and if it's someone even moderately successful, you have to factor in inflated ticket prices.
And, this many not be fair, but especially in pop music, with a few exceptions, the many of the acts are one-hit-wonders, and/or products of the studio. And whether it true or not, it's easier to sit with your phone than to spend hundreds to see a concert.
But there are many of us that will tell you, there's nothing live live music, and the article reminds an entire generation of how great it was to go see concerts and live music at Wings Stadium.