When the Grammy-winning band Imagine Dragons plays in Montana State University’s Bobcat Stadium on July 26, the uber-popular act will be making history in a couple of ways. Not only is it the first time that the Las Vegas-based group has played Bozeman, but it is also the first time in a generation that an MSU venue has hosted a non-student outdoor concert, according to Duane Morris, MSU’s director of event services.
And that show isn't the only outdoor concert MSU has scheduled this summer. MSU is also partnering with area organizers to bring the inaugural Wildlands Festival, a fundraiser for Montana’s wild and open spaces featuring Robert Earl Keen and Lukas Nelson and his band Promise of the Real, to the Romney Oval on Aug. 10. It is the first concert in the history of the university to be held in the oval, Morris said.
“We are so excited about this summer,” Morris said. “(Outdoor concerts are) something we have wanted to do for a while, and we’ve worked hard to bring two quality concerts to Bozeman.”
The last outdoor concert held at MSU was in the summer of 1980 featuring Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Live Wire Choir and John Colter Band with Willow. Plenty of big name acts have performed at Montana State University in the last 38 years – Elton John, Tom Petty and Brad Paisley, just to mention a few – but all performed in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. And while the stadium has hosted hundreds of football games, movies and events and has undergone several expansions over those years, concerts have been absent until this summer.
Morris said there are a couple of contributing factors for the expanse of time between concerts. He explained that the Bozeman climate creates a fairly short window for an outdoor concert. An act that appeals to the local demographic and will be touring in the vicinity during that window that wants to perform outdoors is also necessary, he said. Morris thinks Imagine Dragons checks all the boxes.
“Imagine Dragons is a family show that appeals to people from 6 years old to more than 60 years old,” Morris said. “It’s music that crosses every demographic.”
The stadium in a concert configuration holds about 20,000, he said, and nearly all of the tickets already sold. Morris said MSU’s proven track record for filling Brick Breeden Fieldhouse for big acts also helped in attracting the band, which is known for such songs as "Believer" and the Grammy-winning single "Radioactive." Fourteen-year-old Grace Vanderwaal, who won the 11th season of television show "America’s Got Talent" will open the concert.
Morris said the Wildlands Festival organizers, who include Big Sky’s Outlaw Partners as well as a number of local businesses and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, the Montana Land Reliance and Yellowstone Forever, approached MSU about a more informal outdoor concert benefiting open spaces in the area.
“We’d been talking about how we’d like to see Romney Oval more utilized because it’s such a great space, when the Wildland Festival people approached us,” Morris said.
Both Keen and Nelson, son of the legend Willie Nelson but fast becoming a star in his own right, are singers and songwriters known for writing and performing music best described as Americana, which Morris said will be a good fit for an informal festival.
“The intimate outdoor venue of Romney Oval will be an outstanding place to spend a Montana summer evening, enjoying live music from two iconic artists and celebrating community and the amazing places that make Montana special and inviting," said EJ Daws of the Outlaw Partners.
Tickets to Imagine Dragons with Grace Vanderwaal at the Bobcat Stadium on Thursday, July 26, are $29.50-129.50 plus fees. A pre-concert event for ticket holders featuring the popular Livingston band Little Jane and the Pistol Whips will be held on the plaza east of Bobcat Stadium near Gate 8 beginning at 3:30 p.m. Food, drink and merchandise will be available for purchase. For more information about the Imagine Dragons event, visit brickbreeden.com/events/imagine_dragons/.
Tickets to the Wildlands Festival are $47 for general admission and $177 for VIP plus fees. For more information on the Wildlands festival, visit www.wildlandsfestival.com.
Let the news come to you
Get any of our free daily email newsletters — news headlines, opinion, e-edition, obituaries and more.