When it comes to seeing a concert in Dallas-Fort Worth, music lovers have plenty to choose from. From rap to rock, from local bands to internationally acclaimed acts, North Texas' music scene is a buffet ripe for grazing. The one thing ticket holders don't get to choose, however, is where bands play.
D-FW is home a wealth of venues -- some would argue too many -- that can either make or break an experience, depending on your preferences. One of the most polarizing is Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie.
Opened in 2002, Verizon Theatre is one of the area's mid-size venues. Not too big and not too small, it can hold 6,350 people inside the seat-lined auditorium and annually welcomes some of the best touring acts. But ask any young person with the desire to dance or mosh during their favorite band's set, and they'll mention one thing.
Unless you purchase pit tickets to a show at Verizon Theatre, you're relegated to the seats where the rule is to keep your butt in the chair or risk being yelled at by other people whose view you're blocking.
Verizon Theatre, for its part, may soon remedy this misalignment. On Friday, July 22, it debuted the Field at Verizon Theatre, a new outdoor concert space located between its indoor counterpart and AirHogs Stadium. It's not a permanent solution; rock bands Modest Mouse and Brand New played on a temporary stage erected for the event. The space was fenced in just days before and lined with food trucks and beer tents for concert attendees.
Don't mistake this for a Gexa Energy Pavilion-like amphitheater; it's simply a field, a pop-up setup much like you'd see at a local festival.
Ryan Brandon, marketing manager for AEG Live, which books Verizon Theatre, said the idea to employ the space came after hosting Pegasus Music Festival last year. During that event, food trucks and craft beer tents took over the theater's parking lot while bands played inside the venue. That gave way to thinking that Verizon's expansive real estate could be better utilized.
Not only does the Field at Verizon Theatre offer more elbow room and freedom for concertgoers, but it can also hold more people. The venue made about 8,000 tickets available for the Modest Mouse/Brand New show, according to Brandon. That's not to say the experience is flawless.
We went to the Field at Verizon Theatre reveal on July 22 to find out what the perks and downfalls are. Here's what we learned.
The pros and cons of the Field at Verizon Theatre
Pro: The experience wasn't compromised
The new venue space was as good a stage as any for the performers and attendees. The stage was large enough that fans near the back could see and the sound quality wasn't lost in the open air.
Con: Prepare to be at the mercy of the weather
Considering the venue is outdoors, its determining factor is the weather. And in July, that's not a good thing. Will-call tickets were still distributed from Verizon Theatre's main box office, which meant an extra walking in the heat, and the show started before the sun went down, so it was a sweat fest.
Pro: The food options were on point
Food trucks doled out goodies ranging from sushi and slushies to corn dogs and Oreos Friday night. We'll take those over Verizon Theatre's overpriced nachos and hot dogs any day.
Con: The beverage choices were less abundant
There were no Jack and Cokes to be had. It was buy a beer or buy nothing (or water, whatever). Those choices were fine early in the night when vendors offered a craft selection from Deep Ellum Brewing Co., but if you didn't get one early, the choices narrowed to Bud Light or Michelob Ultra.
A bonus: There were coolers offering free water to anyone with a bottle. Score!
Pro: The festival vibe was a nice change of pace
Attendees lauded having elbow room and the ability to shake their groove things during the show, a luxury attainable only for the lucky few inside Verizon Theatre. Groups brought blankets and chairs to sit on during the show, and despite the number of concertgoers, there seemed to be ample room the sprawl out.
Con: That festival vibe includes the bathrooms
Hello, Porta-Potties. There are few things worse than trying to pull up your britches in a stuffy plastic box after sweating for hours on end, but it's all part of the experience, right?
AEG Live does not currently have any upcoming shows slated for the Field, but it could become a welcome alternative for rowdier bands and crowds alike.