Opening night of Ninth Street Summerfest was moved inside The Blue Note this year because of what seemed to be forboding weather.
Indoors, however, the concert Wednesday night took on a decidedly more intimate feel. The crowd mingled inside while the evening’s blues performances came to life under the blue light of a shadowy stage.
The Fried Crawdaddies kicked off the evening with an easy blues jazz set for a crowd torn between catching the music and enjoying the unexpectedly agreeable weather. One couple carried around lawn chairs, adapting to both indoor and outdoor seating.
Although the move indoors limited the size of the event — as many as 3,000 people came in past years, and The Blue Note’s capacity is 835 — the Blue Note staff seemed unconcerned.
“The first Summerfest of last year was indoors, too, and it still drew a great crowd,” said Blue Note employee Kyle Robinson.
The threat of rain didn’t drive everyone in. Downtown fixture Dave Hestir, who is beginning his third summer in Columbia and can often be seen serving up hot dogs and popcorn from his mobile cart, was parked outside The Blue Note. Hestir said he didn’t expect business to dwindle despite the change of location.
“If people can’t walk out 20 feet for a bite to eat, then they don’t deserve my food,” he said.
Concert-goers’ reactions to the move indoors were mixed. Although Linda Uppinghouse said she would prefer to have been outside, she acknowledged that “the music sounds better inside.”
Her husband, Gary, was thrilled with the change, joking, “I like the dark.”
As one Chump Change fan asserted, despite his preference for an open-air show, “Who doesn’t like a free concert?”
The next installment of Ninth Street Summerfest is scheduled for June 27.