Summer Concert Preview and The Office Shouts Out to the Poconos

If you missed The Office last night or if you don’t watch it, the Poconos got some Michael Scott face-time last night.

Michael told the staffers he was in Mount Pocono on Tuesday at the orders of his new girlfriend, but only because she may have been cheating on a boyfriend with him. The Poconos discussion lasted for about 30 seconds. 

A couple years ago, I interviewed The Office creator Greg Daniels for Weekend and asked him why there were only marginal mentions of the Poconos in Scranton-based NBC sitcom The Office. He said they would try and get more — but there weren’t really any. A couple months ago I interviewed Danny Chun, a Stroudsburg native and now a writer/producer on the show and asked him the same question. He too said he’d try to get some more into the show. Well, apparently we took our complaints to the right department as the Poconos got some big play on The Office last night, fast forward to about the 3:15 mark:

While the stereotype of “heart-shaped Jacuzzis” remains stuck to us and we all know there is no PF Chang’s in Mount Pocono, hey, at least we’re getting mentioned finally! So thanks, Office, for finally recognizing the Poconos are part of NEPA.

UPDATE (1:08 p.m.): Just got a return e-mail from Chun, here’s what he had to say about the Poconos reference: “As you know, I’m always trying to get Poconos references into the show, but it’s hard to work them in naturally. But this scene felt like a great chance; Michael was bragging about a romantic weekend with his new girlfriend. And what’s more romantic than the Poconos? Hopefully I get lifetime access to heart-shaped bathtubs for this.”

So there you have it.

I’ve put this off a couple weeks, but I’ve been working on a summer concert preview for a while now, rating the regional venues that are within a drive of about an hour or two. It’s only for the big, outdoor venues that attract the A-list summer tours (sorry Sherman Theater and Penn’s Peak) and that have a large slate of shows (sorry Festival Pier in Philly and Allentown Fair).

TOYOTA PAVILION AT MONTAGE MOUNTAIN


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Location: Scranton

Most distinguished show: Kings of Leon (June 8). A new artist at Montage, what a novel idea! They must be taking the place of Aerosmith, which isn’t on the Montage schedule for the first time since 1856. Or somewhere around there.

in case you're wondering, i found this under the title "scott stapp looking stupid as usual." agreed.

in case you're wondering, i found this under the title "scott stapp looking stupid as usual." agreed.

Skip: Creed (Aug. 18). I’ll put the odds of this show happening at a pick ’em. They already knew it wouldn’t sell, so they went with the “20-10” promotion and framed it as a blow for rising ticket costs. When venues start realizing no one wants to see Creed anymore for $5, Scott Stapp will come down with some curious case of laryngitis and you’ll never hear from them again. About time.

Overall slate: Every other major venue around here may not have the best concerts, but at least they’re masking it with quantity. Not Montage. Seven shows? C’mon, at least make it look like you’re trying. I’m in negotiations to go to the John Mayer concert though, that’s a nice change of pace from whatever 80s hair bandreunion tour usually comes around. Hopefully there will be some later adds on this schedule like Lilith Fair or something.

Grade: D+

MUSIKFEST


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Location: Bethlehem

Most distinguished show: Counting Crows (Aug. 6) is doing more of a low-key tour this year, so Musikfest looks right up their alley. Someone who goes needs to let me know if Adam Duritz is above or below 300 pounds at this point. I’m going with over.

Skip: Adam Lambert (Aug. 13). Clock’s ticking, buddy boy. You’re at about 14 minutes and 38 seconds …

Overall slate: The bread and butter of Musikfest always seems to be classic rock, and like any other venue, there’s plenty. It must be crazy hard trying to arrange the schedule since they only have a nine-day window — they’re the exception of my all-summer schedule policy — but getting Norah Jones (Aug. 7) and even Selena Gomez (Aug. 6) aren’t too shabby at all. And yeah, I just mentioned Selena Gomez as a viable concert. 

Grade: B

BETHEL WOODS CENTER FOR THE ARTS


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Location: Bethel, N.Y.

Most distinguished show: O.A.R. with Citizen Cope (Aug. 7).

just so you're not scared if you go to see her, yes, this is pat benetar

just so you're not scared if you go to see her, yes, this is pat benetar

Skip: Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon (Aug. 28). Most popular response by people being made fun of for buying tickets for this show: “Dude, shut up, I’m not buying it for Pat Benatar, I wanna see the Speed!” This, of course, makes them get made fun of more.

Overall slate: The fact that it is a conceptual arts center with limited capacity limits the kinds of shows it can bring in, but you’d never know it. It’s not that different from Montage, but they have most of the same shows (Dave Matthews on July 13, Mayer on Aug. 4) and Montage upgrades (CSN on Aug. 31 over Jackson Browne). If Montage ever goes under, it’s because people from Scranton decided to drive an hour to go to Bethel instead of staying in their backyard.

Grade: B-. The arts thing means you have to call a show, “An Evening with Sting performing his most celebrated songs featuring the Royal Philharmonic” instead of just saying, “Sting.” But hey, at least Sting is coming (July 30). 

PNC BANK ARTS CENTER


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Location: Holmdel, NJ

this ain't the fred durst i remember
this ain’t the fred durst i remember

Most distinguished show: I would be interested to see if Limp Bizkit (July 3) still has it since Fred Durst has been off directing crappy family movies. Throw in the Fourth of July weekend date and being about a half hour or so from Point Plesant and you’ve got a heck of a weekend. 

Skip: The Scorpions have the audacity to actually title their comeback tour. Does it matter what the title is? Absolutely not, other than for the intrinsic comedic value. In case you’re curious, it’s called “Get Your Sting and Blackout Tour.” Actually, that’s pretty good for comedy’s sake because it makes no sense at all and is pretty darn funny. The band was probably going for a Blink-182 thing, but it just failed miserably. So in a complete 180, I’m extremely happy The Scorpions decided to name their tour.

Overall slate: Everything you can ask for. Country (Sugarland on May 22, Toby Keith on June 19), hip-hop (Beatstock, Aug. 7), rock (Green Day, Aug. 14) and classic rock (lots), this place has just about everything you could want in a summer concert venue. Too bad it doesn’t have more hip-hop, but you don’t bash places that host Weird Al (June 27).

Grade: A-.

SUSQUEHANNA BANK CENTER


View larger map Location: Camden, N.J.

Most distinguished show: My love for all things Pennsylvania continues my indefensible affinity for Fuel, so it’s nice to see them back out on tour and playing the annual WMMR show (May 23) with Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains.

Skip: Ozzy Osbourne (Aug. 22) always looks like he’s walking a tightrope. Andnot a metaphorical one, just walking a freakin’ tightrope like he’s going to fall over at any second. How can that be enjoyable on stage? Wait, I know! Let’s add Motley Crue to the mix so I can completely realize how pathetically old I am and want to drive into the oncoming lane of traffic on my way home. Home Sweet Home, that is.

Overall slate: Probably the most laid back slate locally thanks to a double shots of Phish (June 24 and 25) and DMB (June 30, July 1), Jack Johnson (July 11), Lilith Fair (July 28), the double shot of Jimmy Buffet (Aug. 7, 10) and David Gray (Aug. 20). Only one hip-hop show (Rihanna/Ke$ha, Aug. 18) and not that much street-cred rock. We’re looking at you, Slayer and Megadeath (Aug. 15).

Grade: B

MANN CENTER


View larger map Location: Philadelphia

Most distinguished show: Normally, I’d say MGMT (Aug. 15). But after reading their Rolling Stone article, I’m afraid they’ll be canceling this tour halfway through. If they get all the way through the tour, they don’t sound like they’re that much fun on stage anyway. And because I can’t seem to ever get enough Time to Pretend even though I heard it on the way in this morning:

Skip: Faith No More (July 3). Ever been to Philly on Fourth of July weekend? It’s a ghost town and you feel like a dork if you’re not at the beach. So it’s already a downer. Why make it worse with Faith No More?

Overall slate: Very impressive if you’re a fan of Atl Nation on Sirius/XM or college radio. Passion Pit (June 27), Cake (Sept. 15) and the Pavement reunion (Sept. 17) are the highlights.

NIKON AT JONES BEACH THEATER


View larger map Location: Wantagh, N.Y.

Most distinguished show: Am I the only one who didn’t know Sublime (July 20) was going back out on tour? It might not be the best show, but I’d be interested to see how they sound.

Skip: When I started out this post, I thought giving a title to a lame tour was the worst idea in the world. But the more I keep seeing these reedunkulous names, the more I’m all in favor of it so people like me have material. Put Foreigner, Styx and Kansas (June 19) together for a tour to set the world record for most hair plugs on stage at one time, and what would you call it? How about “United We Rock“? Sounds good! Feel free to snicker under your breath. On a related note, United We Rock just barely edged out “Might Not Be Alive Next Year.” When this show can beat out American Idols Live! (July 7) you know you’re making concert history. That brings up an interesting question: What’s dumber, making a stupid title for your lame-@ss tour, or just randomly throwing an exclamation point at the end of the title? At least we know what Elaine Benes would say.

Overall slate: About as good as it gets, it seems like it’s a mix of the best of every other venue minus Green Day. It’s a tad heavy on the classic rock, but hey, it’s the summer, every venue is.

Grade: A

THE STAR PAVILION AT HERSEYPARK STADIUM


View larger map Location: Hershey

digging tegan and sara since last year

digging tegan and sara since last year

Most distinguished show: Honda Civic Tour(Aug. 7) with Paramore, Tegan and Sara (my new favorite band for now) and New Found Glory.

Skip: Daughtry with Kris Allen (Aug. 6). I know nothing about American Idol, but know enough to realize this Daughtry cat — who sucks rocks, by the by — has gone out of his way to disassociate himself with American Idol. Apparently that only lasts until he needs to sell some extra tickets, in which case he’ll be happy to bring former winner Allen along for the tour ride.

Overall slate: There is no logical explanation for Hershey consistently getting such a strong slate of shows every summer versus Montage. For the most part, they’re the same size market, and as far as venues go, I’d take Montage over Hershey any day. Hershey getting The Eagles (June 15), OAR (Aug. 4), Paramore and Rihanna (Aug. 21) should make Montage bookers hold their heads in shame and make us start asking the question — does Montage have a bad reputation among performers? There has to be some kind of reason they don’t get the shows everyone else does.

Grade: B+

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