Gazette opinion: Billings concert lineup definitely getting better

2014-05-13T00:00:00Z 2014-06-11T10:34:26Z Gazette opinion: Billings concert lineup definitely getting better The Billings Gazette
May 13, 2014 12:00 am

Well, it’s not ex-Beatle Paul McCartney. But, it’s a positive move. Several actually.

For the past few months we’ve been carping about the anemic entertainment offerings at the Metra and beyond. Montana’s biggest city seemed to be getting the entertainment world’s lesser acts.

We felt that acutely when Paul McCartney announced he’d play Missoula while Mel Tillis canceled at the Alberta Bair Theater and Leroy Van Dyke canceled at Rimrock Auto Arena.

Yet in just a little more than a week’s time, the Metra has announced three substantially better quality shows.

Could it have been a coincidence?

Likely, those shows just don’t get signed overnight. Yet, we also believe that those planning entertainment for Billings seem to be working harder to bring in acts the community and beyond wants to see.

Let’s recap: Gone are Van Dyke and Tillis. Now, bona fide country superstar Tim McGraw has been booked. Also, Metra announced that Five Finger Death Punch and Volbeat would be playing in September. While maybe not household names, the two rock groups are definitely contemporary and don’t have significant overlap with audiences who love “Matlock.”

These are positive steps forward, and we hope that they are the first of many more contemporary, bigger-name entertainment acts to come to Billings.

We also want to encourage not only the Metra leaders, but also other venues to follow suit. And to be fair, other organizations like the Magic City Blues Festival continue to bring in high-caliber entertainment.

Now, it’s our turn.

We’ve spoken loudly and rather pointedly on this subject. We knew we were not alone. We heard from hundreds of folks who added their two cents about wanting better acts to come. While we haven’t reached the entertainment promised land, these are at least enough to get us started.

We asked for it, now we have to support it.

We now have some better choices literally at our doorstep. We don’t have to travel far to see a good show. Now, we have to step up and get out. We have to find a babysitter and tickets.

For our hospitality and retail industry, this can also mean very good things. We now have the chance to host folks who will come to town to see either of these shows. This not only means revenue for hotels, bars and restaurants; it also means that it’s our chance to remind folks that Billings is a great town. It’s also our chance to remind them: We’d like to see them back here.

We want folks to recognize, realize and know what we know: Billings has so many opportunities, whether that’s shopping, recreation, dining or convenience.

Tim McGraw, Five Finger Death Punch and Volbeat aren’t the only ones on stage. It’s time for us to show our support and show those who come here what Billings is really about.

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