Citing a "sluggish start," promoters of Live on Penn have pulled the plug on the outdoor concert series after just three of its 10 scheduled shows.
"We thank everyone for their support, but as shown by festivals like Lollapalooza, the concert industry is off to a sluggish start this summer . . . and we're no longer able to continue," said Howard Kitrosser, director of marketing. "We look forward to doing more events in the city of Washington."
Held Saturday afternoons on a closed stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue outside the National Gallery of Art, Live on Penn debuted last summer and was an immediate success, luring large crowds for $3 shows featuring Blues Traveler, Wyclef Jean and Live, along with a mix of local and regional artists.
This year, though, admission shot to $7 at the gate, although advance tickets were available for $5 through the series' Web site. The schedule was also problematic. Highlights included Grammy-nominated rock band Fountains of Wayne, alt-country heroes Old 97s and local favorites Virginia Coalition -- all of whom have headlined the 9:30 club recently at a much higher price.
But most four-band lineups were based around a mix of '80s nostalgia acts, including the Violent Femmes and the Smithereens, and veteran alt-rock bands like Tonic and Better Than Ezra. The latter may have been big draws a few years ago, but they have fallen off the pop-culture radar and didn't lure fans.
Though the cancellation is disappointing, Live on Penn's promoters are in good company this summer. The Lollapalooza festival was scratched after substandard ticket sales, and some tours, including Dave Matthews and Ozzfest, have been playing to less-than-full houses.
-- Fritz Hahn