New Orleans Jazz Fest 2017: Friday attendance seemed light, right?

2 years ago The Times-Picayune 0

If you are one of those people who skips the New Orleans Jazz Fest because it’s just too crowded, then you missed your chance Friday (April 28). Ask anybody. The turnout seemed a little light, even for a first Friday.

Not that you would have gotten lonely, mind you, but in mid-afternoon when the crowd is usually thickest, some folks were playing Frisbee near the Acura Stage. The bleachers at the edge of the infield were only sparsely populated.

Deacon John seemed to fill the Blues Tent, but you could sit pretty much anywhere you wanted at the Lagniappe Stage. Even at the Gentilly Stage during Phish frontman Trey Anastasio’s set, the tie-dyed audience seemed considerably less tight than at previous Jazz Fest jam band concerts.

And, get this, at the dinner hour, the line at the softshell crab booth, which can sometimes seem like a fried crustacean mosh pit, was practically nil.

All of these observations are merely that, observations. Sometime after the music stops next week, the management at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell will report on the relative attendance. The festival does not release daily totals, a spokesman said Saturday morning.

Last year, numbers were down because of heavy rainfall.

As NOLA.com reported previously, 425,000 fans attended the seven-day 2016 event; 35,000 fewer fans than 2015. This came as no surprise, considering the cancellation of that Saturday afternoon’s big acts, including Stevie Wonder, Beck, and Snoop Dogg; and the mud bath the festival became that Sunday.

Did it all boil down to Friday being a work day? Did the gray skies scare folks away? Will the crowd bounce back Saturday? Is the schedule less scintillating than in select past years, as some onlookers surmise? Is there a 2016 washout hangover? Or were our observations incorrect? Was it a normal opening day?