Miranda Lambert at the Lakeview Amphitheater

Miranda Lambert headlines the premiere of the Lakeview Amphitheater

Somethin' Bad: Miranda Lambert brings somethin' great to brand new Lakeview Amphitheater stage and sets the bar high for future performers.

The Lakeview Amphitheater joined other open-air venues that dot Route 90 as one of the premier concert spots when Miranda Lambert took the stage and around 10,000 fans jumped and threw their hands in the air.

The Amphitheater, which cost nearly $50 million and was built to replace the Grandstand that currently hosts big-name artists in Syracuse, rocked to hits by opener RaeLynn as well as Lambert. The Geddes venue features a stage — paired with two jumbo televisions on each side — facing around 5,000 covered seats and a lawn further uphill that has room for up to 12,500.

Photo: Bridget Williams
Miranda Lambert shouts out to fans at her Thursday concert at the new Lakeview Amphitheater.

Radio morning show hosts Tom and Becky of B 104.7 were the first to walk out on stage and thank everyone for coming.

“It’s a big honor to be the first ones on stage,” Becky said. “We’re so proud — we love you country fans.”

RaeLynn’s 8-song performance — which included hits like “Kissin’ Frogs,” “For A Boy” and a cover of No Doubts’ “Hella Good” — was well-received by the audience. The crowd roared when she prefaced “God Made Girls” with, “I believe God made girls to make this world go round and round and round.”

Alexa Harris, a Syracuse resident, emerged from the pit after RaeLynn’s performance excited about the new venue.

“The scenery is better, the seating is better, the sound is better — it’s definitely better than the Grandstand,” Harris said.

As an avid equestrian, she said rather than the Amphitheater, she’s more excited for the new horse show facilities Gov. Andrew Cuomo has moved to invest in at the Fairgrounds.

“I’m very excited about the new equine center — I spent a lot of time making sure that went through,” Harris said. “That’s going to be huge for Syracuse.”

RaeLynn’s performance was followed by Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, whose introduction induced another roar from the near-capacity crowd.

“I came out to thank all of you for coming here tonight to see Miranda Lambert,” Mahoney said, while also taking the time to thank other county officials and those who aided the venue’s construction. “We made this happen because of you — the people who live here made this happen.”

Not every patron was a fan of RaeLynn and the county’s new investment. Jerez Ewanciw and Colleen Bradley of Cortland said they’re not fans of the lawn seating — or of RaeLynn.

“I’m not a fan. Her voice is just awful,” Ewanciw said. “I’d rather be in the seats — I’d rather be closer. I want to be able to see her, but whatever.”

Bradley echoed Ewanciw’s sentiment, saying they paid around $45 each for lawn seat tickets — which is standard for venues like Buffalo’s Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center in Canandaigua and Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs.

“I’m a huge concert fan, so I’d rather be closer,” Bradley said, adding they came mainly to see Lambert. “Miranda Lambert — love her. I’m so excited. I like ‘Gunpowder and Lead’ a lot.”

When Lambert finally did come out on the Amphitheater stage around 8:30, people jumped to their feet to see her. The music video for her duet with Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad,” played on the TV screens just before she emerged from the smoke on stage to open with “Fastest Girl in Town.”

Lambert donned black ankle boots, black leather shorts and a white cutoff with a photo of country singer Tammy Wynette splashed across the front. Hits like “Kerosene,” “All Kinds of Kinds” and “Mama’s Broken Heart” accompanied covers of Mountain’s “Mississippi” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Travelin’ Band.”

Mechelle Sieczkowski, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said the new venue is going to need a lot of time to get things in order. Too few employees staffing the merchandise table, too few food and drink vendors and lines of traffic in the parking lot were just a few of the hassles, she said.

“It’s almost like they don’t have enough staff here to handle the amount of people here,” Sieczkowski said. She compared the venue to First Niagara Pavilion — commonly referred to as Star Lake Amphitheater — just outside of Pittsburgh. While the pavilions are similar, she said Star Lake has traffic and staffing mastered so that the experience is simple and pleasant for concertgoers.

Harvey Henteleff, also of Pittsburgh, agreed with Sieczkowski, but ultimately said the Lakeview Amphitheater is certainly a step above the rest.

“This is clearly larger and much more lovelier,” Henteleff said. “It’s absolutely lovely.”

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