International rock sensations, The Breeders, played a free concert in their hometown at the Levitt Pavilion Dayton on Friday, Sept. 20 as part of the 2019 Eichelberger Concert Season. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Photo: Tom Gilliam
Photo: Tom Gilliam

58,000 people attended free Levitt concerts in first full season

Levitt Pavilion ended its first full season with a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of more than 7,000 people to watch The Breeders play to their hometown.

After 53 free shows and 58,000 people from 109 unique zip codes, the summer-long 2019 Eichelberger Concert Series came to a close, and Levitt Pavilion officials declared the season a huge success.

Madeline Hart, director of outreach and community engagement for Levitt Pavilion, said attendance combined with feedback from attendees, community members and the national Levitt Foundation is what marked this year as a success.

When president of the Levitt Foundation, Liz Levitt Hirsch, and national Board of Directors member Sharon Yazowski visited Dayton’s Levitt Pavilion for a late-August concert, Yazowski said Dayton was “just killing it” in its first full season.

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Hirsch compared Dayton’s Levitt to other Levitt venues across the U.S. during their own inaugural years. Executive Director of Friends Levitt Pavilion Lisa Wagner said Hirsch commented specifically about how impressed they were with the diversity on the lawn this early on and that Dayton has already achieved a high level of inclusion.

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“The success of what’s actually happening right here at Levitt and Dayton’s urban core is because of the amazing community we live in,” Wagner said. “I think that speaks to what Sharon and Liz said they are seeing. That’s the way the (Levitt) model works. It doesn’t work unless you have the community embracing it and loving it.

“On behalf of all of us — volunteers, board and staff — we are truly grateful for doing this work in our city. With all of the tragedies this summer, it really provided a healing space.”

The Memorial Day tornadoes hit Dayton the weekend before 2019’s opening show. Then, on the same evening that a gunman took nine innocent lives in the Oregon District on August 4, the community gathered at Levitt for a first place to mourn and show unity.

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Not knowing what was in store for Dayton this summer, Wagner said Levitt ended up being more than a concert venue.

“This summer was a really difficult one for any organization in Dayton,” Hart said. “The tornadoes hit the weekend before we opened and then the shooting. … We all felt that, but then we also felt Dayton come together.”

In addition to the free concerts, the pavilion was used by nine community organizations for their events, including the City of Dayton music festivals, according to a release. With the addition of these community events, the space was used by almost 73,000 people from all over the region.

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