The year was 1992. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III was in production. Chi Chi Rodriguez was tearing up the PGA tour. Summer salad mix was on sale at Raley’s for 59 cents and Harveys had just completed its outdoor arena.
“We’re looking at trying to bring to Tahoe events that people will like and that will build the business, and, hopefully, get the community behind these concerts,” then-Harveys marketing director Dan Faccinetti said in a 1992 Tahoe Daily Tribune article.
Though the arena hosted just two shows that first year, the venue would give rise to Lake Tahoe’s most prominent outdoor concert series. Now, hardly a summer night goes by without an outdoor concert somewhere around the lake.
This summer, Harveys has a lineup of heavy-hitting artists from Tim McGraw to Phish. The series kicks off June 22 with Steve Miller Band.
“The entertainment we’re getting is top-notch,” said Carol Chaplin, executive director of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. “I would say it’s one of the best concert series in Northern California and Nevada.”
The concert series has hosted renowned bands since the beginning. Legendary concert promoter Bill Graham scheduled The Gipsy Kings and Ringo Starr for the venue’s first summer. Over the next 20 years and through one enlargement of the arena, The Eagles, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Journey, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss and Kiss would perform in Harveys’ back parking lot.
Then came the Phish era. In 2011 and again this year, the prolific jam band took the outdoor stage. Tickets to this year’s two shows sold out in less than eight minutes, cementing the arena’s status as Lake Tahoe’s top outdoor venue.
As Harveys Outdoor Concert Series rose to prominence, other outdoor music events began to sprout. MontBleu Resort Casino launched outdoor shows in 2012 and will continue the events this year with big names like Slightly Stoopid and the all-day, all-night electronic music festival called Bass Camp. Then there’s the Live at Lakeview series in South Lake Tahoe, the Concert at Commons Beach series in Tahoe City and Music on the Beach concerts in Kings Beach, all featuring local, regional and national acts.
But it’s not just the quality of the entertainment that brings people to Tahoe for the outdoor shows, Chaplin said.
“From the weather perspective, we’ve had a pretty good run,” she said. “People love being outdoors in the evenings. And there are these ridiculous sunsets that always seem to happen. You can’t really get that anywhere else, especially while listening to your favorite band.”