Sacramento and Bay Area Concert History

Sacramento and Tahoe Area Shows: 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
San Francisco Bay Area Shows: 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
Sacramento's concert history is fun to explore. The great thing about a concert experience is that even if the show is only a few hours, it can last forever as a memory. Many top acts have come through town from the Rolling Stones at the Memorial Auditorium in 1965 to Jimi Hendrix at Cal Expo in 1970 to Paul McCartney at the grand opening of the Golden 1 Center in 2016.

Since San Francisco and Oakland are not that far away, they are included in this research down memory lane. Another reason why the Bay Area shows are included is that the regions were closely tied together in concert routing. Due to legendary concert promoter Bill Graham being based in the Bay, his organization would also promote Sacramento shows. He had a close relationship with Sacramento radio stations such as KZAP, KSFM, KROY, KRXQ and KWOD.

One of the most noticeable differences between concerts from way back and now is ticket prices. Granted, people on average got by on less money back in the 70s, but then again it wasn't that hard to save up $8 to see a major act. Cal Expo shows in the late 70s, for example, cost under $10. In this century, prices have skyrocketed to triple digits for top acts. Then again, there are always much lower cost shows to see from local bands.

Sacramento's biggest shows were held at Cal Expo Amphitheater for many years until it closed earlier this century. The venue capacity was around 14,000, which was surpassed by Arco Arena's capacity of 17,000. Golden 1 Center's capacity is about the same as Arco. Also included here are shows from surrounding areas like Angel's Camp in Calaveras County, where Mountain Aire was a major festival in the 70s and 80s. These shows were heavily promoted on Sacramento airwaves. One of the most memorable Mountain Aire shows was the Cars, Huey Lewis & The News and others in 1984.

Concerts are important historical time markers because they are events that people plan on attending months in advance and then become conversation pieces for years to come. They become references when a band name comes up and people say "oh yeah, I saw them when they came to town" or "I wish I could have seen that show."

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