Venue Review - The Bowl at Sugar HIll

The Bowl at Sugar Hill - Third Eye Blind peforming
The Bowl at Sugar Hill on Sept. 3, 2016.
I'd never heard of Sugar Hill, Georgia until recently. About 40 minutes northeast of Atlanta, my wife and I spotted the mostly popular in the 1990's band, Third Eye Blind was playing over Labor Day weekend and we made the trip south to check it out.

Map showing the bowl at sugar hill relative to atlanta

The Bowl at Sugar Hill is located immediately behind Sugar Hill's City Hall building and all indications are it is run by the City of Sugar Hill, which may be where this concert went wrong, but I'll get to that in a moment.

The Bowl at Sugar Hill

As we pulled into Sugar Hill, we mistakenly stopped at an ATM expecting to need cash to park. However, that wasn't an issued. Without too much trouble, we quickly spotted a spot in a city parking lot that offered room for free. We were off to a good start.

As we walked past what appeared to be a brand new, golden guttered city hall building my wife was delighted seeing all the people lounging with coolers, blankets, etc. It was a nice little vibe. Obviously not a resident myself, you could get the sense that these events could play a role in building a community feeling. Also, the fact that you could carry-in your own alcohol may also explain why everyone seemed to know everyone else so well!

Outside the "Bowl" there were about a half dozen vendors set-up with a couple food trucks with the standard sort of fare. We didn't eat at the show but can attest that The Diner at Sugar Hill is worthy of the top spot it occupies on Trip Advisor for restaurants in the area.

Grandstand at the Bowl at Sugar Hill
The grandstand at the Bowl in Sugar Hill

We had reserved tickets that were about 5 rows from the stage. There are various levels of grassy terrace in the primary grandstand. For the show, they line what my wife jokingly referred to as "wedding chairs" for seating. Not necessarily uncomfortable and the set-up seemed just fine for something like this.

Who Sucked Out The Feelin'?

After an opening band that my wife and I agreed must have just been crowned king of the Sugar Hill High School's talent show the previous week (I didn't catch their name but thought they said something like "Cock Guard" --- which is probably not correct) there was about a half-hour pause while the stage was remade for the main event.

Then, Third Eye Blind took the stage and the night got weird.
Third Eye Blind frontman Steven Jenkins at The Bowl at Sugar Hill
Third Eye Blind's Steven Jenkins.
As lead singer Steven Jenkins started singing, it was as if his microphone hadn't been turned on. No lyrics, no  real sounds coming from it. Eventually, it started to play over the house speakers at faint levels but it was clear either we were all being pranked by Jenkins or something was messed up.

The band never explained exactly what was wrong. They simply played their first song (minus any audible lyrics) and then quietly left the stage.

Moments later, the band would re-emerge as Jenkins explained there were some technical issues that caused the problem and could continue to wreak havoc on their set. Paraphrasing Jenkins, it could happen at any moment and could impact just about everything they used to make music. (I'm no audio expert but I wonder if it wasn't a board issue of some kind).

Near the end of Third Eye Blind's set.

Throughout the night, the band clearly ran into technical issues at a few different points but to their credit they took it all in stride. At one point, Jenkins came on stage with just a guitar and performed a few songs. They're not a negative lot so Jenkins put on a mostly happy face and even seemed to poke fun at some of the culture of pop music today.

"There are no synthesizers, we're not a DJ band," Jenkins joked at one point.

All-in-all, I'd estimate the band played for just shy of an hour and a half. I'm not sure if Sugar Hill has any sort of noise ordinances in place that would have prevented them from going longer. 

Wrap-Up & Video

Of course, it was frustrating to have set-aside a holiday weekend to take in a show that was hit by technical issues that clearly sucked the energy out of the concert. We'd seen Third Eye Blind less than a year before at the Tennessee Theatre. Plainly, the bar was set high and my wife was delighted by the show in our hometown. 

In this latest case, the show was alright but the false-start clearly detracted from the overall experience. You can get a taste of what we experienced with the video below that highlights about a minute of what appeared to be technical glitch-free goodness.