Despite delays in improving infrastructure and lack of parking spacesEnmarket Arena is speeding towards its grand opening on January 13. The Great Hall marks a new era for live music in Savannah, bringing AAA superstars like The Eagles and Bon Jovi and creating a new opportunity for the entire local music scene to enjoy.
“Things are constantly changing,” said Monty Jones, general manager of Enmarket Arena, of the impending grand opening. “We’re getting things done and putting everything together so we can open our first public broadcast on the 14th.”
Jones and the Oak View Group have been responsible for booking shows at the Civic Center and the Johnny Mercer Theater, but the new 9,500-capacity Enmarket Arena will give them a chance to really flex their ability to attract bigger artists in Savannah.
“Also, you look at the aspects of premium spaces,” Jones added. “We have premium spaces, which we’ve never had here in Savannah. This gives us the ability to bring in larger show productions using our partners at Live Nation and our Oak View leadership team of Tim Leiweke, Irving Azoff, Peter Luukko and Chris Granger.
Local music fans should no longer have to drive four hours to Atlanta to see some of their favorite acts.
“The other side is that people in these big markets will want to come and see this show in Savannah because we’re a destination,” Jones said. “They’ll be able to see a show at a world-class venue, but then they’ll spend an extra day or two, either front or back, enjoying all that Savannah has to offer.”
Away from the Enmarket Arena, other local venues attract new artists to Savannah
District Live in the Plant Riverside District is another exciting venue that opened recently. Although a medium-sized venue, District Live attracted bigger bands that would normally jump over Savannah. The attraction of Enmarket Arena can only help District Live put on even higher quality shows.
“120% and I think it’s already there,” agreed Tyler Gray, director of entertainment and programming at Plant Riverside District. “I’ve had conversations with Monty before [Jones] and Oak View on the idea of working together. These are two different venues, we’re talking about a very large venue and a very small venue, and how can we work together to create fun experiences like VIP gigs at our place that would work in concert with Enmarket and whatever the gigs they bring to town.”
Gray doesn’t see Enmarket Arena as a competitor, but as a partner in making the music scene better for everyone.
“I think part of what you see with District Live is that we’re creating an intimate atmosphere for the big artists that are already with the Live Nation brand,” Gray said. “The big one that stood out to me is Ben Folds. I saw him in Nashville at the Ryman with 4,000 people and now he’s doing the same kind of tour in a 450-seat venue.
Smaller bars and promoters are hoping to see positive spinoffs from Enmarket Arena. AURA Fest founder Timothy Walls, who has been busy booking metal and rock shows at smaller venues like Sentient Bean and El Rocko Lounge, is already seeing positive changes with new, larger venues.
“I think since we have some of these medium-sized venues like Victory North and District Live, that’s a good thing,” Walls said. “It’s good to see the growth. I’m curious to see if Live Nation and AEG – they have the power to put bigger bands through – it will be interesting to see if they do different things than the Civic Center. Will it be similar programming or will they do something new with it? »
Locals hope what the arena brings to Savannah
Although Enmarket Arena is probably too big for the types of acts Walls likes to see, he hopes a growing music market will attract more acts of all sizes to Savannah.
“It would be nice to see more bands that play the Masquerade, for example, come through,” Walls said. “Just for my world that I work with like hardcore, metal, indie rock. A lot of those tours hit Atlanta, they hit Orlando. Growing up as a teenager, or even now, you have to drive a few hours to see those visits. We’ve had a few already… We’ve had Obituary and Black Dahlia Murder at Victory North, so that was pretty big for Savannah. We’re taking the right steps.
Walls grew up in Savannah and remembers when bands like Poison and Guns N’ Roses performed at the Civic Center, but witnessed a gradual decline in the quality of artists who stopped by Savannah.
“It’s a healthy thing to have an array of entertainment options in a growing city,” Walls said. “We have a place for everything. There’s a place for DIY home shows, there’s a place for nightclubs, medium-sized venues. It will be cool if the arena brings in Foo Fighters or something. If we started having stuff like that, it would be like it used to be.
With Enmarket Arena putting on great shows and attracting visitors to our town, perhaps not only smaller music venues will benefit from the influx of tourists, but also restaurants and bars.
“I think more live music in the city will lead to more live music attendance,” said Smith Mathews, founder and managing partner of Southbound Brewery. “Kind of like the ‘Rising Tide Lifts All Boats’ scenario. If people around Savannah and in Savannah start going out to see more live music, even on a large scale like they’re going to bring it to the table, then ideally they’ll go out and see more of it on a smaller scale.
“I drive to Atlanta to see some of my favorite bands. They rarely pass through Savannah. I think it will definitely provide us with an opportunity to develop the local live scene. They will obviously get major national acts. If people start coming to town on the weekend to come see a show on Saturday, then they might come to our house the Friday night before, or before the game to our house before they go to the show, which is pretty much around the corner of the room.
Two Tides Brewing Co. in the Starland District hosts live music, including their annual Metal Fest. They also often collaborate with Graveface Records to promote live music on DeSoto Row.
Liz Massey, owner and brand manager of Two Tides, has seen many venues like The Jinx shut down during the pandemic, and would like to see more smaller venues spring up in its place. Enmarket Arena could potentially create a market for more sites.
“I’m from Austin, so I usually hang out where every weekend bar has live music,” Massy said. “I love live music, so I’m always on the lookout for more venues in general. I don’t think Savannah has had a concert hall like this yet. I’m excited about the possibility of bringing in larger groups. I think when it comes to the kind of bands and shows we host, it’s kind of a different flavor. I think more people are coming to Savannah for live music, that’s a good thing.
When booking bands, small promoters like Two Tides sometimes have a hard time convincing artists to steer their tour to Savannah.
“I think putting Savannah on the map a bit more will be helpful in encouraging more stopover shows and more music acts in the neighborhood.”
There is still work to be done on Enmarket Arena, so it remains to be seen how much of an impact this will have on Savannah, but with a slate of high-quality shows already booked on the schedule and a positive outlook from local venue owners, artists , and promoters, it looks like Savannah is about to make a much bigger mark on the entertainment map.