Dave Matthews will give his first-ever outdoor performance in the Twin Cities/ Associated Press photo

Sorry Taste of Minnesota, but this summer’s inaugural River’s Edge Music Festival will be the most ambitious music festival on St. Paul’s Harriet Island since Riverfest’s six-year run ended in 1990.

Not only will Live Nation, the world’s biggest promoter, spend nearly $2 million on production for the four-stage event on June 23-24 but almost as much on talent. Dave Matthews Band and Tool command big paychecks, especially when the latter is bringing its full-on production with a giant video wall for, what Live Nation says, is its only U.S. concert this year.

Live Nation has signed a minimum five-year deal with the city of St. Paul to produce River’s Edge. Next year will feature a three-day rock event (with an electronica component) and a country festival on the following weekend. Live Nation has exclusive rights to Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean and Rascal Flatts; so those names might likely be in St. Paul in 2013, not in Detroit Lakes (for We Fest), Cadott (Country Fest) or Eau Claire (Country Jam).

Because it took considerable time to get River’s Edge greenlighted from St. Paul, promoters got a late start (in December) booking bands, said Live Nation booker Tommy Ginoza, who used to work in Minneapolis but is now based in Chicago. He said commencing in late summer would have been ideal.

He inquired about a wide range of names, including Prince. Jay-Z, with whom Live Nation has an exclusive deal, was not available because he was committed to European festivals. Other Live Nation big attractions, including Madonna, Coldplay, Van Halen, Nickelback and Aerosmith, were planning arena dates in the Twin Cities. Ginoza also was cognizant of competing with other established area events, such as hip-hop's Soundset in May, the indie-oriented Rock the Garden in June, the adult-pop-leaning Basilica Block Party in July and the eclectic State Fair in late summer.

Ginoza said his mantra was booking "great live performers" regardless of genre. Hence, he ended up with club favorites like Mutemath, Kinky and Scissor Sisters that he knows can deliver live. He expects to announce at least three or four more acts, including some locals. (For the River’s Edge lineup, click here.)

In keeping with Live Nation’s recent approach of so-called dynamic ticket pricing (changing prices based on supply and demand), two-day tickets will cost $99 for the first week (no service fees if purchased at Xcel Energy Center box office) and then $110 the next week, with two more price increases to come. If tickets are still available, single-day tickets will go on sale for about $75 this spring.

The real ticket price should have been $120, said Mark Campana, Live Nation copresident for North America concerts. But his approach for this new event is to offer a reduced early-buy price as incentive. There also will be two levels of VIP tickets to be announced later.

Whatever the price, Campana said: "We’ll lose a considerable amount of money in the first year."

He thinks 40,000 is the capacity for Harriet Island but "we’ll call an audible" as the festival proceeds.

Other measures that Live Nation is taking include:

* allowing festgoers to go in and out of the grounds (thanks to wristbands with radio-frequency chips in them);

* allowing festgoers to carry in two sealed bottles of water;

* allowing festgoers to bring in empty water containers that can be filled for free on the festival grounds;

* alternating bands on the main stage and secondary stage to avoid sound competition. (Music will run from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.)

* providing some kind of entertainment until 10:30 as the concertgoers exit the grounds.

* setting up large video screens on both sides of the main stage and on the sound/light mixing booth in the middle of the crowd.

As part of Live Nation’s agreement with St. Paul, it will help underwrite Fourth of July fireworks on Harriet Island for at least five years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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