Live music is back, bands perform at Alameda County Fairgrounds

"It's better than nothing. It's that sense of community that we all need."
PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) -- With their cowboy hats and boots, Ryan Klaus and Madeline Mahoney, came dressed for Friday's country concert at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.

"We have been stuck inside for a while. It's always a good excuse to get outside and listen to some live music!" says Klaus, who lives in Mountain View. "It's better than nothing. It's that sense of community that we all need."

San Jose local, Ryan Scripps, who gained fame as a contestant on season 13 of the "The Voice," was the first of three acts. He ignited the crowd, performing some of the songs that he sang on the show.

Event organizers told the crowd that the Alameda County Fairgrounds is the only venue in the Bay Area that is currently allowed to host concerts.

Here is how it works: It costs $120 per vehicle. You can bring as many people as there are seat belts in your car. Klaus and crew are group of six. Each vehicle is parked in a marked area with space to sit outside, eat and dance.

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"You have your own space, you're not super cramped, so it's kind of nice to tailgate and do this sort of thing. So, it's really fun," says Mahoney, who lives in San Ramon.

There are also $130 and $150 packages available. And everyone can bring their own food and drinks.

"It makes it so much nicer, because you're not stuck drinking really expensive beer (sold by vendors)," says Cambrielle Heon, who lives in Livermore. "Yeah, we want to be able to promote local businesses, but at the same time, we are all trying to save money."

While many may be trying to save money during the COVID-19 pandemic, co-promoter Alex Moran, with Spider Ranch Productions, says that he is struggling to make a money with this type of concert set-up.

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The fairgrounds has space for 200 cars, but sold just over 60 spots for Friday night's show. Even if it were a sellout, Moran says they only make enough money to cover expenses and pay the bands.

"The entertainment business, we got shut down before anybody got shut down. Guys were like, 'I might have to go home to mom and dad in Iowa.' We can't have that. So, let's do something for me to put you back on the payroll and get you to work," says Moran.

But he says he knows these concerts are important for fans and the musicians.

"I think we are providing a public service, frankly. Give people an outlet, a place to go, it's safe," says Moran.

Announcements were made about social distancing and reminding people to wear masks. Staff walked the fields to make sure everyone complied - part of the new normal.

"It's totally the new normal. So, as long as they make it safe for everybody. We are totally wiling to get outside and have fun," says Heon.

The next concert series at the Alameda County Fairgrounds is August 14 and 15 with Tom Petty and ZZ Top cover bands.

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