HONOLULU – A crowd of mostly baby boomers rocked an otherwise silent volcano, dancing and singing to the first concert inside Diamond Head crater in nearly 30 years.
"The crater is our Woodstock in Hawaii," screamed 49-year-old Eddie Knoebel, who once joined wild teenagers for popular crater concerts in the 60s and 70s. "We want this back, baby."
Thousands of predominantly middle-aged fans, clad in tie-dye and Aloha shirts, flocked to this muddy arena Saturday for a daylong festival with the Steve Miller Band, Linda Ronstadt, Yvonne Elliman, WAR, and the Honolulu Symphony.
The extinct volcano shut down as a music venue after wild fans reportedly set fires and vandalized the state monument in 1978. This time, a number of restrictions were in place to keep the party under control.
Fans were not allowed to walk in or climb the volcano's grassy ridge. To avoid traffic problems, some 100 shuttle vans picked up fans, whose tickets cost between $125 and $175.
The arena was limited to 7,500 people, about a quarter of previous crowds, and cordoned off for police and medical personnel. Organizers could not estimate how many people attended, saying that tickets were still being sold as the event unfolded.
In some ways, Saturday's gig also was more glamorous. A select group sat under the shade of a VIP tent, eating coconut shrimp and sipping tequila while others scrambled to find a dry spot in a field turned muddy by more than a month of nonstop rain. The downpour ended just in time for the concert.
Before main artists performed, dancers mingled with the audience to the beat of Taiko drums, Hawaiian guitar and chants. Elliman was the first to get the audience moving with her famous version of the "Saturday Night Fever" track, "If I Can't Have You."
But for some, the glitzy production combined with long gaps between sets killed the free-flowing mood they recalled.
"It is different," said Karen Brey-Gabriel, 57, who came with husband Hayden, 56. "Now you are paying the money. In those days, it was free. We walked in, we walked out."
The couple remembered climbing up and down the rugged crater for a view of a larger and engaged crowd.
"That was another era," Hayden Gabriel said.