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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

No foolin': music to ring out from Diamond Head April 1

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer

During the 1970s, Diamond Head Crater was a popular venue for concerts, and promoters hope it will be again.


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Tickets go on sale for the Diamond Head Crater Celebration Jan. 28 at 9 a.m. at the Blaisdell Arena Box Office or online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling (877) 750-4400. Service fees will be waived for ticket buyers who purchase tickets Saturday and Sunday from the Waikiki Shell Box office. General admission is $125 with reserved seating from $150 to $175. Low-back beach chairs will be allowed in the general admission area.

All tickets include reserved parking and round-trip shuttle service to the crater. No walk-ins will be allowed at the event.

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DIAMOND HEAD Diamond Head Crater's future as a concert venue will depend on how well the crowd behaves at the April 1 concert.

The April 1 show, featuring the Steve Miller Band and War, will be the first public concert held in the crater since its heyday as a venue in the 1970s. General admission for the concert will be $125 and reserved seats will cost $150 to $175.

Fans will be treated to Hawaiian cuisine and alcohol, and they'll be allowed to bring beach chairs, but they won't be allowed to climb the rim. They'll be treated to a special rim lighting around the crater after sunset, but they won't be able to drive their car in or park anywhere in the neighborhood and walk in. Shuttle buses will be offered and are included in the ticket price .

And security will be tight. The concert seating area will be cordoned off and an evacuation plan was drafted in the unlikely event of an emergency, according to the agreement between the state and the promoter.

Those are just some of the restrictions the state has placed on the concert that is likely to attract a crowd that is 35 and older, said Ron Gibson, chief executive officer of the Diamond Head Crater Festival and Conference.

"The weekend of the crater event you can see Elvis Costello on Friday, Saturday the crater celebration and a week later you can see U2. That's pretty metropolitan in my book," Gibson said. "We didn't plan this. It just happened this way."

Before the Mainland acts, the Honolulu Symphony conductor Matt Catingub, Kenny Endo's Taiko Center of the Pacific and kumu hula Sonny Ching and Halau Na Mamo O Pu'uanahulu will perform. More talent could still be announced for the six-hour festival that kicks off at 2 p.m. April 1.

Peter Young, state Department of Land and Natural Resources chairman, said there have been many restrictions imposed on Gibson. The controls are designed to ease the burden on the community, Young said. If all goes well at the concert, Young said the state might consider granting permission to other organizations who have sought to hold events in the crater.

"The prices aren't surprising because it's a real limited access," Young said yesterday. "I know in the discussion we had there was the idea of alcoholic beverages. I think it's a great opportunity for the economy and for the people to hear music from local and out of state talent in a controlled environment."

Tickets are limited to 7,500 people small by comparison to the 30,000 tickets available at Aloha Stadium's U2 concert, Gibson said.

"We believe this event will have a huge appeal to leisure travelers, the world music industry and the local community as well," Gibson said in a written statement. "This is year one of a five-year plan. I can't tell you how thrilled we are with the response from the business community. You're getting the equivalent of three concerts.

"My soul is in this. It's two years of planning. It's the beginning. We may not have the crater again," Gibson said yesterday. "We want to continue to grow this. This is not a show you can see in any other community."

Gibson is still working on the details of a multi-day event that begins on April 1 through April 10 with a network of related events throughout O'ahu and at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. The state had endorsed the music event and specifically the Diamond Head Crater portion despite objections from the community who said the concert would open the door to future events.

During its heyday, the crater festivals drew crowds of more than 50,000 to hear Santana, Gabby Pahinui, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

In 1978, Cecilio & Kapono headlined for the last event that also featured War, the Little River Band, the Mackey Feary Band and Eddie Kamae & the Sons of Hawai'i.

In June 1970, a 7,000-gallon wading pool was built for a concert. Another year, bikini-clad concert-goers were stung by bees. Fires, health problems and vandalism were perennial problems with the concerts of the 1960s and '70s.

Richard Turbin a Kahala resident, who attended some of those concerts 30 years ago, was excited to have a concert return to the crater. However, the price of tickets for the April 1 concert, he said, made it seem like only the rich could afford to go. Thirty years ago a ticket cost $5, Turbin said.

"The people own Diamond Head," said Turbin, a member of the Wai'alae-Kahala Neighborhood Board. "It's being sold to the highest bidder. If it was to be a true people's festival, then it could be a fun one-time thing. Local people cannot afford these prices.

"It's not a good use of a treasured public resource."

Reach Suzanne Roig at sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com.