Live Oak Bank Pavilion, a new outdoor concert venue in Wilmington, North Carolina, has attracted big bands to the Port City. Check out this complete list of the artists performing Downtown at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater in 2021.

by Alexandra Fitzpatrick

North Carolina’s most picturesque coastal city, Wilmington, may be renowned for its historic charm and proximity to the beach, but the Port City is becoming a prominent destination for live music as well. The long-awaited debut of a new, state-of-the-art outdoor concert venue, Live Oak Bank Pavilion has attracted a diverse pool of high-profile musicians who are scheduled to perform throughout the fall. After a successful opening on July 16, 2021, the concert venue has the potential to make Wilmington the top music destination in southeastern North Carolina.

Situated on 6.6 acres of public green space along the Cape Fear River, Wilmington’s Riverfront Park doubles as a public park by day and as a 7,200-seat concert venue by night. Located in the center of Downtown Wilmington’s River District, the Live Oak Bank Pavilion is one of the final projects taken on by the local government to drive new business into the city. The city of Wilmington partnered with Live Nation, a live entertainment company that is managing the Live Oak Bank Pavilion, to invest $38 million into the venue.Conceptualized as part of Wilmington’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan and another plan for downtown revitalization Wilmington Vision 2020: A Waterfront Downtown, local authorities agreed on building the venue in 2016 after rejecting a motion to use the land for a public baseball field. Construction on the venue began in 2018 but budget concerns, design problems, and the COVID-19 pandemic pushed progress back which resulted in the Live Oak Bank Pavilion officially opening in July 2021. As the last expansive area of land along the Cape Fear River, the Riverfront Park both preserves the natural area while bringing in an extensive amount of revenue through the Live Oak Bank Pavilion.

Budget and Expected Value

With a budget of $35 million, constructing the Live Oak Bank Pavilion was no cheap feat. Funding came from multiple sources according to Star News Online. The project acquired $20 million from a 2016 parks bond and $11 million from Wilmington’s general fund. Live Nation put $4 million into the venue. With that large of a price tag, Wilmington officials are expecting a payoff from the profits collected by the venue.As a part of an agreement with Live Nation, the city of Wilmington receives $200,00 a year from the entertainment management company and makes $2 for every ticket that is sold according to Venues Now. The city also receives 50% of all food and beverage sales done at the venue. Aside from revenue generated directly through the Live Oak Bank Pavilion, the shows are attracting crowds which positively affects many other businesses in Wilmington.

Impact on Wilmington

Widespread Panic performed the venue’s first show and Wilmington Biz reported that concert attendees flocked to Wilmington resulting in the show being sold out and many hotels being fully booked for that weekend. That is exactly what local authorities wanted when the project was first envisioned. The boost in tourism will bring a large number of new customers to Wilmington with every show. After two tumultuous years of struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, many local businesses are rejoicing at the increased demand from tourists. 

The venue has also created a plethora of new jobs, especially an influx in gig jobs like driving for Uber. Despite the new employment opportunities, many businesses are running into problems with short-staffing which results in employees working longer hours to keep up with the demand from concert-goers. But according to Wilmington Biz, housing developers have been scouting Wilmington since the opening of the venue to accommodate the increased demand for apartment complexes in the Downtown area.

New COVID Regulations

The future of large gatherings like concerts remains unclear as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the United States. Local authorities in Wilmington haven’t put a maximum occupancy limit on crowds but they have started to implement stricter public health mandates. The New York Times COVID-19 dashboard reports that “New Hanover County is at an extremely high risk for unvaccinated people.” New Hanover County officials announced on Tuesday, August 17 that starting Friday, August 20, 2021, everyone in Wilmington will need to wear a mask in public indoor spaces. This also applies to those who are fully vaccinated. The mask mandate does not apply to outdoor gatherings so concerts at the Riverfront Park are still scheduled; however, Live Nation has announced its own COVID-19 policy changes that will impact the Live Oak Bank Pavilion.A spokesperson from Live Nation recently announced that starting October 4, 2021, all performers and concert attendees must show proof of vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 test to attend events. With preventative measures in place, people can still enjoy live music in Wilmington while helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the community. So mask up and get your COVID-19 vaccination cards ready because you aren’t going to want to miss these artists performing at Live Oak Bank Pavilion this fall.

Must-see concerts at Wilmington’s Live Oak Bank Pavilion in 2021

Whether you’re an indie rocker or a country music enthusiast, there’s a show for everyone at Live Oak Bank Pavilion this fall. Keep reading for a complete list of every concert scheduled at Riverfront Park in 2021. Check out our Live Music Finder for even more bands, singers, and musicians performing around Wilmington. 

Harry Connick Jr – August 25, 2021

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people, including Harry Connick Jr, used their time to delve into passion projects. The It Had to be You singer used lockdown to his advantage by writing and producing an entire album titled “Alone With My Faith” which focuses on themes of faith and inspiration. Buy tickets for the show here.

311 – September 4, 2021

Formed in Nebraska in 1990, the rock band 311 is celebrating its 30th anniversary by embarking on their Live From the Ride tour across all 50 US states this year. The Amber singers had to put their 2020 tour on hold due to COVID-19 but now, the band is back and ready to rock out. Get tickets here.

Glass Animals – September 5, 2021

Glass Animals, one of the hottest bands in the indie scene is headed to Wilmington this September for their Dreamland tour. The Heat Waves singers have been around since 2010 and are known for their unique, electro-pop sound. Tickets are on sale now, buy them here.

Santana – September 15, 2021

Santana is known for the rock band’s experimentation with jazz fusion. Mexican-American guitarist and songwriter Carlos Santana brings Latin influence to the band’s overall sound. The group has been around since 1966 and is set to perform its Blessings and Miracles tour in Wilmington this fall. Click here for tickets to the show.

Gov’t Mule and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue – September 23, 2021

Wilmington North Carolina is the perfect place to enjoy southern rock and the band Gov’t Mule is coming to the Port City to deliver some bluesy jams. The Soulshine singers have performed at music festivals across the country and are now celebrating their 20th anniversary. Grab tickets for their summer tour here.

Trey Anastasio Band – September 24, 2021

Trey Anastasio may be known for co-founding the rock band Phish, but the Cayman Review singer has also gone on to have a successful solo career. After a long-awaited pause due to COVID-19, TAB is back on the road for their 2021 tour. Tickets are available on LiveNation’s website.

Trevor Noah – September 25, 2021

Bands aren’t the only acts scheduled at Live Oak Bank Pavilion. South African comedian Trevor Noah is stopping in Wilmington on his Back to Abnormal tour. He is best known as the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Noah is sure to bring some humor so get your tickets to his live show now.

Counting Crows – September 29, 2021

GRAMMY and Academy Award-nominated rock band Counting Crows has been a staple of the alternative rock scene since 1991. After a seven-year hiatus, the Mr. Jones singers are back with some soulful sounds that they’re performing live on their Butter Miracle tour. Score tickets for the Wilmington show here.

Lady A – September 30, 2021

Lady A, formerly known as Lady Antebellum, has been a pinnacle of mainstream success in the country-rock genre. The group is known for their x9 platinum song Need You Now which made history as the highest certified song for a country band. The group is stopping in Wilmington this fall on the What a Song Can Do tour. Buy tickets for their performance here.

Chicago – October 12, 2021

Soft rock band Chicago has left a legacy on the genre in their half-a-century long career. The Saturday in the Park singers have left a mark on the music industry as one of the best-selling groups of all time. Don’t miss your chance to see them live at Live Oak Bank Pavilion this October. Buy tickets for their show here.

Brett Eldridge – October 14, 2021

Brett Eldridge has been a promising up-and-coming artist in the country genre since his debut in 2010. The singer is best known for his hit song Love Someone. He is sure to bring some positivity to the stage in Wilmington on his Good Day tour. Reserve your tickets for the show here.

Lake Street Dive

Formed in 2004, indie pop quintet Lake Street Dive stands out in the industry by blending genres to create an interesting and playful sound. The band states that two of their influences are The Beatles and Motown. After the release of their new album Obviously, the band hit the road to tour across the country. Get your tickets to see them live in Wilmington here.

Live Music Rebounds in Wilmington

With live music on the rebound after taking a drastic hit due to COVID-19, fans can expect to see more of their favorite performers flocking to the Live Oak Bank Pavilion. Wilmington’s proximity to pristine beaches, great restaurants, and vibrant culture has made the city a desirable place to live, work, and play. The addition of this new music venue has added even more value to Wilmington’s ever-growing list of perks and has put the city on the map as a top music destination in the South.


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