SOUTH LOOP — It may not have been perfect beach weather, but, come on: it takes a lot to get parrotheads down. Thousands of fans dressed in floral shirts, board shorts, grass skirts and coconut bras converged on Northerly Island Saturday evening to see Jimmy Buffett perform at the recently-renovated FirstMerit Bank Pavilion.
The concert is the first major performance to take place at the lake-front venue that has been modified to accommodate up to 30,000 people. The site has been expanded from 4.8 to 6.9 acres and features a "great lawn" that can hold up to 22,000 people.
Saturday evening, Buffett fans decked out in tropical gear tailgated before heading in to see the show. Leslie Daul said it was her first time seeing a concert at the venue.
"I've never seen a show here before," Daul said. "But it's great so far. It's definitely a party."
In addition to Buffett, other artists scheduled to perform at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion this summer include Phish, Counting Crows, Barenaked Ladies and Ben Folds Five, according to Live Nation, which manages the venue.
Anthony White, who was seeing Buffett live for the second time Saturday, said he was happy to see the venue grow in size.
"Hopefully it will help attract some big names, and you can't beat the view," White said.
The stage has been repositioned to face southeast, so concert goers have a backdrop of the skyline during shows.
The concert featured two special guests. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane appeared onstage with the Stanley Cup, as Buffett congratulated the team while wearing a Hawks sweatshirt.