Summer arrives in a few weeks and, as Martha and the Vandellas sang back in 1964, “There’ll be dancing in the streets.”
In the Wasatch Back, however, the dancing isn’t just relegated to the streets. Because of the abundance of summer concerts, people will dance on mountainsides, in parks, fields and patios.
In fact, from June to September, residents and visitors will be able to attend live concerts at least five days a week.
While music lovers find themselves grooving to the beats in front of the stage, there will be a different dance going on behind the stage. In most cases, that backstage hustle has started hours before the first chord is struck.
Step One: permits
There are many steps to putting on a concert, and getting a permit is the first for many promoters and production companies, said Jenny Diersen, Park City’s special event and economic development program manager.
“An interested applicant should contact the Park City Special Events Department if they are interested in applying for a permit,” Diersen said in an email interview. “After we understand what they are looking to do, we can help get them directed to the right place if a permit is not required.”
Indoor concerts generally don’t require permits because they are within a structure that has been approved for events, but outdoor concerts usually require a special event permit, due to the impacts of parking, increased transportation needs and noise waivers, according to Diersen.
For events in Park City, there are three levels of special event permits, and the Park City staff determines the level for each request, depending on anticipated crowds and impacts the event may causes.
Promoters and production companies apply for the permits, and the city or governing body will review them for approval, Diersen said. When reviewing applications, city staffers consider an event’s value for the community and weigh it against concerns like public safety and transportation impacts.
“The balance of the special event calendar is complex and delicate (and) we constantly look at our calendar to understand what is and what is likely not possible,” she said. “We work closely with our community partners (Park City School District, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, Summit County, Main Street merchants) to coordinate resources and impacts that an event may cause.”
Sometimes a permit is not issued.
“Public safety and mitigating impacts is of utmost importance, while balancing the positive community, cultural and economic benefits that an event may bring,” Diersen said. “As per the special events code, we look at a number of items including geographic separation of events, proposed time and duration of events, anticipated attendance, necessity for public personnel, equipment and transportation services, as well as anticipated traffic and parking impacts.”
The applicants vary. Sometimes it’s the venue, and sometimes it’s the promoters or production companies that make the submissions..
Mountain Town Music, the local nonprofit that presents free summer concerts throughout 11 Park City and Summit County venues, splits the permit pulling duties with venues for shows.
“We, ourselves, pull permits for half the stages — usually the ones within Park City, including Deer Valley and City Park,” said Brian Richards, Mountain Town Music’s community conductor of musical affairs. “Park Silly Sunday Market pulls permits for their shows. Vail (Resorts) will pull permits for those shows (at Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Village), and Newpark will pull permits from Summit County for their concerts.”
Sometimes a venue, such as the DeJoria Center in Kamas, will apply for the permits.
“Public safety and mitigating impacts is of utmost importance, while balancing the positive community, cultural and economic benefits that an event may bring...” — Jenny Diersen, Park City’s special event and economic development program manager
The venue is different because it also houses the State Road Tavern restaurant, and has a business license.
“All of our permits go through Kamas City, but because we have a business license, as an event center everything we do by definition is a special event,” said Tracy Mullen, director of sales and marketing for the DeJoria Center. “So there haven’t been too many additional permits we’ve had to pull. There are some big events that we are planning that will require master festival events, but for the most part the others fall under our business license permit.”
The Utah Symphony, which presents the annual Deer Valley Music Festival at the Snow Park Amphitheatre, also pulls permits for its outdoor concerts, according to Chip Dance, Utah Symphony stage and production manager.
“We have to get a permit that is something along the lines of a general assembly or occupancy permit that allows for gathering of people,” Dance said. “Deer Valley needs to get a temporary permit as well.”
Step Two: booking the shows
After permits are approved, venues must go through a dance of their own when booking the summer concerts.
Take the Deer Valley Snow Park Amphitheater, which can seat 5,000, for instance. It is not only home to the Utah Symphony | Utah Opera’s Deer Valley Music Festival, but also Mountain Town Music’s Grand Valley Bank Community Concerts and the upcoming Deer Valley Concert Series.
Large clips hold the music to a music stand to prevent the pages from blowing away during a Deer Valley Music Festival concert. (Photo courtesy of Utah Symphony | Utah Opera)
“If it’s just the orchestra and we either don’t have any guest artists or just have a couple of guest singers, like we do during our Bravo Broadway concerts, the Utah Symphony truck with all the equipment will arrive two-and-a-half hours prior to the gates opening,” Dance said. “That’s because Deer Valley has already put up the tent and the stage. We don’t have to do all that from the ground up every week.”
Sometimes, though, Dance is ready to help a touring artist set up their stage a 7 a.m.
“While many of the artists we present aren’t doing a bus-and-truck tour, some do, and they have everything including the kitchen sink in their trucks,” Dance said. “Consequently, we sometimes can’t accommodate everything they have, because the sound towers and light trusses can hold only so much weight, so during our advance (discussions), we have to explain that they will have to use our lights and sound.”
Some artists are more than happy to use the existing infrastructure.
“That said, there may be certain things they need that are in their trucks, and those things are packed a certain way,” Dance said. “So at times, they have had to empty out their whole truck to get to the instruments or equipment they need. And then they have to pack the truck up exactly the way it was, so they have to wait until the artists and crew are finished with the used equipment and instruments.”
While Mountain Town Music usually sets up its own equipment, Utah Symphony works with local vendors.
“They help us with the bigger setups or if we need follow-spot(light) operators,” Dance said. “Other than that, we have a crew who is mostly made up of our crew colleagues in the Utah Opera who help set up some boardwalks and other infrastructure features in June.”
Some of the equipment includes patio heaters, extra music stands and chairs — anything they need to ensure the show goes off without a hitch, no matter the weather conditions.
“If the temperature get too cold, it can ruin instruments and interfere with the musicians’ dexterity, making it hard for them to play...” — Chip Dance, Utah Symphony stage and production manager
“We have to go in expecting everything from Mother Nature,” Dance said. “We travel with pieces of chain that are 15 to 24 inches long that are inside bicycle tire inner tubes, and we coil those around the base of the music stand to decrease the chances of the music stand blowing over.”
Sometimes the wind is so strong at Deer Valley that Dance and his crew have had to put two or three wraps of chains on the stands that are closer to the front of the stage.
The symphony also carries patio heaters.
“If the temperature get too cold, it can ruin instruments and interfere with the musicians’ dexterity, making it hard for them to play,” Dance said. “Contracts specify if the temperature gets to that point, we have to provide heat. If the temperature gets below that, we have to stop the concert. So you will see us a lot of times at Deer Valley lighting these heaters during intermission.”
In some cases, the instruments need to be protected from the summer heat.
“That doesn’t happen too much at Deer Valley, but we have to put space blankets up to block the sun from hitting the piano, because the sun can put the piano out of tune,” Dance said.
Side step to the right: using existing equipment
“If, by chance, an outside promoter came to us to put on a concert and told us they were going to bring in other vendors for sound and stage and lights, we would let them know that we have a procedure and that we will always look to use the existing infrastructure that we have in place,” said Westberg, the senior event and promotion manager for Deer Valley.
Using another system can be expensive.
“If a production company wants to use their own systems, we have to take ours out,” Westberg said. “That will add to costs and usually becomes a logistics puzzle.”
The DeJoria Center also owns its sound and lighting systems and offers its services to every tour that books shows in the venue, which can also include a temporary stage on the three-acre lawn.
“We will often get requests for lots of stagehands for lights and sounds when we have a national touring act come in,” said Mullen, the director of sales and marketing for the DeJoria Center. “We can accommodate most requests. Since the infrastructure is already here, it makes our job and the touring crews’ jobs easier.”
The DeJoria Center’s indoor stage measures approximately 1,922 square feet and the ceiling is 17.5 feet high
The sound system is comprised of a Yamaha CL5 digital console and eight Shure ULXD2/Beta58 microphones.
“We offer mic and stand packages, and a monitor package that includes Shure PSM 1000 IEM with earbuds,” Mullen said. “We also have intra-venue communication systems and two big LED monitor screens that flank the stage so we can show videos on either side of the stage.”
The venue also features a main PA, center fills and a system analyzer.
“We have extravagant lighting systems that include moving lights, conventional lights and spotlights,” Mullen said. “There are three dock doors where semis can back into for easy loading. And when we begin working with an act’s production manager, we can show how easy and quick it is to load in and load out. So a lot of what they need we have in-house already, with few exceptions.”
The DeJoria Center is also well equipped for outdoor concerts.
“We build a stage and bring out our portable sound system,” Mullen said. “We also activate our food truck so we can pull food from our buildings. The goal is to recreate the indoor experience to the outside.”
Side step to the left: happy artists
Another responsibility of a production organization such as Mountain Town Music is to make sure the artists and musicians it presents are comfortable.
In some cases, Mountain Town Music will accept a rider, which is a list of items requested by the artist.
Riders can include food, drinks and anything else that can help the artists relax before they go onstage.
“We usually take care of riders for bigger shows we present at Canyons, Newpark and Deer Valley, because they are mostly touring bands,” Richards said. “We book the other stages with local bands and they don’t necessarily have riders, but we do provide those local bands with waters and try to take care of them.”