British rock band Coldplay rocked on past the 10 p.m. curfew at Levi’s Stadium on Wednesday, setting up the likelihood that the band and venue’s management will be fined and escalating the battle between the San Francisco 49ers and the City of Santa Clara over weeknight events at facility.
At 10 p.m., Coldplay was performing the song “Charlie Brown,” and appeared to be midway through its main set.
There was no mention of the curfew by the performers and no outward sign that fans appreciated or even knew that rocker Chris Martin and his bandmates were violating a city curfew. (Read concert review here. ) The concert ended after 11 p.m.
Coldplay’s curfew-busting follows similar violations at the venue, which is managed by the 49ers, by U2 in May and Beyonce in September 2016. Representatives for the 49ers say a 10 p.m. curfew is unreasonable for a rock concert, and is costing the team and the city revenue and jobs. British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran reportedly nixed a Levi’s show on his 2018 U.S. stadium tour because of the curfew.
City officials say they are looking out for residents who live near the stadium, saying many have to work early on weekday mornings. Several residents complained after U2 broke the curfew.
Coldplay was almost guaranteed to run past the curfew. The concert started started at 7 p.m. and featured two opening acts. The headliners took the stage at 8:59 p.m.
The Coldplay concert, coming just days after the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas that killed 59 people injured 500 injured, had a strong presence of police and security guards inside and outside the venue.
As for the curfew violation, the next move is up to Santa Clara officials, who have said the 49ers mangement would be fined between $750 and $1,000 if the concert broke the curfew. Observers say the fine represents almost no deterrent.
“It’s a minimal fine,” said Santa Clara Mayor Mayor Lisa M. Gillmor before the show took place. “We’re looking at substantial increases to protect families in nearby neighborhoods who need to wake up early to get to school and work. It would all call into question the 49ers ability to manage Levi Stadium. Additionally, we’ve asked our city staff to engage with our community to learn the impact of stadium events on our neighborhoods so we can make informed decisions about stadium events going forward.”
City officials don’t have a lot of other options. Simply cutting off electricity at 10 p.m. to stop the show has been ruled out.
“We won’t pull the plug as it could generate a safety issue in the stadium,” Gillmor said.
Whatever happens, it’s unlikely to calm the increasingly troubled relationship between the 49ers and Santa Clara officials, who have been locking horns over the curfew issue for months.
The team complains that no other major outdoor stadium in the state has to deal with a 10 p.m. curfew. The Santa Clara City Council has stood firm, voting 4-3 in August to deny the 49ers ’ request for a one-hour curfew extension for the Coldplay show.
“We won’t be able to book concerts — there is no question,” 49ers President Al Guido said at the time. “If the concerts don’t come, it will negatively impact the city. The concerts are forecasted to make $100 million for the city during the term of this lease and they’re throwing that business away.”
The council also denied the 49ers’ request to allow four extensions a year in exchange for community benefits.
Conflicts over curfews are not unique to Santa Clara.
In July Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney had their microphones turned off during a mammoth gig at London’s Hyde Park, reportedly sending some 75,000 fans home bitterly disappointed that they didn’t get to see more of an historic pairing of The Boss and a Beatle.
At the BottleRock Napa Valley festival in May, the sound was cut off on the Foo Fighters in order to meet the 10 p.m. curfew. Bandleader Dave Grohl kept right on rocking, even without the sound, drawing cheers from the crowd. BottleRock is known for strictly enforcing its curfew, having also pulled the plug on The Cure in 2014.
Pulling the plug, however, is “the worst thing you can do” in that kind of situation, says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of concert industry publication Pollstar.
“That’s a dangerous crowd control situation,” he says. “Obviously, the fans (at BottleRock) didn’t riot. But if they did, how would you stop it? You turned the P.A. off — you can’t even talk to them.”