On the Move: Where Will Albany’s Alive at Five Concert Series Go?



Photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk

As Mayor Kathy Sheehan announced at an Earth Day press conference last month, major renovations are already underway at Albany’s Corning Preserve. The $5 million upgrade means that construction will be going on throughout the summer, forcing the displacement of the annual Thursday evening Alive at Five concert series from the Jennings Landing amphitheater.

So with the free concert series slated to kick off just a month from now, the question is, “Where will Alive at Five go?”

There are several possibilities:

1. North Pearl Street – It’s where the Alive at Five concert Series began back in 1990 when a mobile stage was rolled onto North Pearl at the State Street intersection for a free outdoor concert by Richie Havens. Drawbacks? It’s a major disruption of downtown traffic and businesses at rush hour. There’s no seating.

2. Tricentennial Park – It’s where the Alive at Five concert series moved in 1991, after it left the corner of State & N. Pearl. It still creates a traffic problem, although not quite as bad. And like the N. Pearl Street site, the space may simply be too small to accommodate the considerably larger crowds that have been attending the Alive@5 concerts in recent years.

3. The Corning Preserve Boat Launch Parking Lot – It’s the current rain site for Alive at Five. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – this is simply the most inhospitable concert venue I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot. The site under the I-787 overpass looks like the setting for the “West Side Story” rumble scene. But the big problem isn’t the ambiance; it’s the audio. This is a horrible sounding place for a concert.

4. Washington Park – Of course the Pearl Street bars (who benefit from the Alive@5 after-party overflow) won’t like it, but why not just move everything up to Washington Park for the summer? Put it on the Parade Grounds (where the Main Stage is located for this weekend’s Tulip Festival), so that it doesn’t interfere with Park Playhouse at the Lake House Stage. It’s spacious, it’s grassy, and we know that it works well enough as a performance venue.

What do you think?

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  1. Mike Leonard says

    Although nothing has been Officially announced, Molly Hatchet is listed on their site for Thursday, August 4th.

  2. Mike Leonard says

    PS-A few of the sites you listed would be a “fun change” for a season!

  3. Daniel Nester says

    Washington Park gets my vote. Would love there to be more music shows there.

  4. Greg says

    The folks at the Palace had talked about booking some concerts into the Washington Park Lakehouse on Monday nights this summer…

  5. Daniel Nester says

    Greg, that sounds super. It such a cool, maybe under-used space. We saw Aimee Mann there maybe 7, 8 years ago, and it was a great show.

  6. Bill says

    Anywhere but the boat launch please. Sight lines are bad and the sound is worse, almost unlistenable.

    How about Empire State Plaza? They’ve got a fine stage underground in case of rain

  7. Bryan Lasky says

    Bring on Washington Park!

  8. Richard Brody says

    Another vote for Washington Park. The boat launch is the absolute worst place that I have ever gone for a concert. And as Bill said, horrible sound that renders the music unlistenable.

  9. Tamera says

    Washington park is a perfect spot… It’s certainly big enough to hold everyone!!!

  10. Fred says

    Washington Park, as long as the quality of the shows is on par with what Mona used to book there for Monday nights back in the day.But you know the city will book some lame tribute band or a vapid pop group from the 1990s no matter which site is utilized.

  11. Mark McKay says

    I loved the Wasington Park series that Mona Golub produced and I even got to play in the opening act once. It’s so much better than under the highway and the Park Playhouse stage looked cool…

  12. Greg says

    The Lakehouse Stage at Washington Park isn’t a viable Alive at Five site because Park Playhouse is presenting “Chicago” and “The Little Mermaid” there during July and August. As you recall, the Second Wind concerts were held on Monday nights – the lone night of the week when Park Playhouse is dark. The Palace Theatre had discussed booking a Monday night season of concerts there this year, but nothing has been announced yet. But if the Thursday night Alive at Five series was to move to Washington Park, it would have to be on the Parade Grounds, not the Lakehouse Stage…

  13. Carole says

    Lincoln Park is a beautiful, underused space – unfortunately the neighborhood isn’t great and there is no parking. 🙁 I would love to see more events held in Lincoln Park if only the city could figure out a place to park cars there.

  14. Greg says

    According to a short article by Jeff Wilkin in The Daily Gazette, the Corning Preserve Boat Launch Parking Lot is NOT under consideration. And that’s the best news I’ve heard all day…

  15. Stanley Johnson says

    The Plaza is out because it’s a State venue, not a City venue (ditto for the Convention Center under The Egg). The Museum Steps are still under construction and it’s not clear how events there will be handled this year. There are other city parks, but most are too residential with parking and noise issues. Capitol Park, (with street closures)?

  16. Wendy says

    There’s nothing wrong with the neighborhood around Lincoln Park. There’s never been great parking for most downtown events, and I imagine the folks living around Washington park might like a break from always being the host for people who usually don’t do anything nice like clean up after themselves….on that note….I think Empire State Plaza would be great..

  17. Andy Gregory says

    Any State venues are out because, well, State. Washington Park is out because of conflict with Playhouse. Boat Launch is viable only because the setup is familiar and can be used rain or shine, but not likely. My thought is either North Pearl or Tricentennial Park, depending on acts booked and possible draw.

  18. timothy Murphy says

    Bleeker Stadium.

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