This past July tens of thousands of rabid fans swarmed a small island in New York City to see one of the first concerts by rock band Rage Against the Machine since 2000. The concert, a part of the “Rock the Bells” festival, made history in other ways as well, as it became one of only a handful of concerts to be held on the Island in 2007.
Located in the borough of Manhattan, Randall’s Island is a tiny 480-acre island can be found in the East River between East Harlem, the South Bronx and Astoria, Queens. While the better part of the island is dominated by the track and field complex known as Icahn Stadium, there is a large parking lot attached to a grassy field where concerts are held. The large amount of open space provides the perfect set up and atmosphere for a festival-like event. During July’s “Rock The Bells” concert, dozens of booths selling everything from fried chicken fingers, to all natural smoothies, tapestries and other memorabilia lined both sides of the field leading almost halfway up to the stage.
The concert was a smashing success as the field was flooded with fans that ate up the bands anti-President Bush speech. At one point during the show lead singer Zach De La Rocha referred to FOX News Network as “Fascist News Network” after two of the network’s pundits purportedly distorted a statement he made calling for President Bush to be “brought to trial as a war criminal, hung and shot.” Between the band and other hip-hop acts such as the Wu Tang Clan, Cypress Hill, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Public Enemy, the energy in the crowd was electric . . .
Though the island provides a terrific concert atmosphere, its major handicap is a lack of convenient transportation. Parking is very limited on the island, and while buses do run, there is no subway or train service into the island. This lack of complete mass transportation access makes leaving the island following concerts a nightmare at times.
However, one of the most endearing features of the venue itself might be the fact that it offers an escape from the normal city atmosphere. Billing itself as New York City’s, “last great underdeveloped park” (from the web site), Randall’s Island continues to offer the perfect festival-like atmosphere in the most unlikely of places. Still to come this year the park will play host to the hit rock band, “The Arcade Fire” on October 6th and, though it has since been postponed from September 15, the Latin music festival “En Vivo” will likely make its way to the venue.
Tickets for the Arcade Fire are extremely hot, though limited availability does exist in the secondary ticket market. According to TicketLiquidator.com, tickets for the show range from $76 to $110 a piece.