DTE Energy Music Theatre
|Former names||Pine Knob Music Theatre (1972–2001)|
|Address||7774 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston, Michigan, 48348|
|Location||Independence Township, Michigan|
|Owner||Palace Sports and Entertainment|
|Capacity||15,274 (7,202 in pavilion; 8,072 on lawn)|
|Opened||June 25, 1972|
|DTE Energy Music Theatre website|
DTE Energy Music Theatre is a 15,274-seat (7,202 seats in the pavilion; 8,072 on the lawn) amphitheater located in Independence Township, Michigan. (It has a Clarkston, Michigan mailing address.) Built by the Nederlander Organization in the early 1970s, it was originally known as the Pine Knob Music Theatre, due to its proximity to the nearby Pine Knob ski area and golf course. The name was changed before the 2001 concert season when DTE Energy (the parent company of Detroit Edison) purchased the naming rights to the amphitheater in a ten-year, $10 million deal. Despite this change, many people still continue to call the venue "Pine Knob", "The Knob", or "The Hill". Palace Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Detroit Pistons, The Palace of Auburn Hills, and operates Meadow Brook Music Festival, purchased the amphitheater in 1990. Annually, it has ranked among the top-selling outdoor concert venues in the nation and has won dozens of awards in the industry, including Pollstar's Best Major Outdoor Concert Venue (2000), Billboard's Top Amphitheater for attendance (2011) and Pollstar's Top Amphitheater Venue Worldwide for total tickets sold (2011). It has ranked No. 1 on Amusement Business/Billboard's list of the nation's most attended amphitheaters every year under Palace Sports and Entertainment ownership.
The amphitheater held its grand opening on June 25, 1972, with a matinee performance by teen idol David Cassidy. Andy Williams performed the first evening concert two nights later. At the time of its opening, Pine Knob was the largest amphitheater in the country, with a capacity of 12,500.
One of the iconic features of the first years of Pine Knob was the dramatic entrance way to the amphitheater. Long cement retaining walls that cut through the hill/lawn were professionally hand-painted with the logos of every band that had played there. The walls were filled in and replaced by stairs and more lawn seating during the early 1980s, thus increasing the amphitheater's capacity to more than 15,000. The original sound system was novel in its day, a huge theatrical performance system designed for an outdoor theater with a custom console and large-array distributed speaker system.
On November 29, 1990, Palace Sports and Entertainment purchased Pine Knob and spent $8 million on renovations. Included in the upgrades were video screens in the pavilion. In 1995 video screens were installed in the pavilion's roof for spectators to see from the lawn.
On January 25, 2001, Palace Sports and Entertainment announced that the venue's name would be changed to DTE Energy Music Theatre. The deal was worth an average of $1 million per year over a ten-year term. Anthony F. Earley Jr., chairman and CEO of DTE Energy and Detroit Edison, said in a statement that "The agreement will help finance improvements to the venue to enhance concert goers' enjoyment." Tom Wilson, president of Palace Sports and Entertainment, adds "This sponsorship ensures a comprehensive program of capital enhancements, including sound control projects, road improvements and various upgrades and additions to the grounds, and to expanding our community relations program to benefit the immediate community and the entire southeast Michigan area."
Before the 2012 season the amphitheater received a new state-of-the-art audio system - the Meyer MILO Line Array sound system. The system is fully suspended above the stage, allowing fans from all sections a better view. The amphitheater was also redesigned with forest green colors, new signage, expanded food options and a new open-air beer garden called The Pine Tap.
Many of the biggest stars in music have performed at DTE. With the exception of 1995, Eddie Money has opened the concert season each May since 1989. Chicago has appeared at the venue almost every year since 1972. Linda Ronstadt also performed there nearly every summer throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Bob Seger has played more than 25 sold-out shows at the amphitheater. Bob Dylan played Pine Knob nine times between 1981 and 2000. Detroit's own Diana Ross often made it her hometown stop during her summer schedules.
DTE is the usual Detroit-area stop for some of the biggest tours of the summer concert season, including The Area:One and Area2 Festival, Crüe Fest, Ozzfest, Curiosa, Projekt Revolution, The Gigantour, Reggae Sunsplash and The Family Values Tour. Lilith Fair made a stop at the venue every year it toured in the 1990s (1997-1999) and also during its revival tour in 2010. It was the Detroit-area stop for Warped Tour in 1996 and 1997, and also for the Lollapalooza tour in every year of its existence but one before the tour signed an exclusive deal with the city of Chicago. The venue also hosts the Lake Orion High School and Clarkston High School graduation ceremonies, typically held at the end of May or beginning of June.
As an amphitheater in Michigan, the location is a suitable venue primarily in the summer months. In 2008, the amphitheater had its earliest concert ever, the Michigan stop for Gigantour, on May 3. In 2012, the amphitheater hosted its latest show ever, with Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, on October 12. This was almost two weeks after the usual end to the concert season, which is usually a country music show in September.
Members of Canadian bands Rush and Barenaked Ladies have said they regard Pine Knob/DTE as one of their favorite venues to play in the U.S. as does American trop-rock musician, Jimmy Buffett.
Because of the venue's close proximity to nearby residents, it is known for having a strict 11:00 pm noise curfew. The performers are subject to a $1,000 fine for every minute played past the curfew. Some events have had to be moved up from original posted times because of this, although a fair number of bands choose to play anyway (typically Aerosmith, for example), with the fine money given as a deposit.
The time restriction is said to be the reason behind the incident backstage between Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie on October 12, 2012. Opening for Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson took the stage late, thus forcing Rob Zombie's set short to avoid the curfew.
Video, audio, photographic appearances
A variety of concerts from the venue have been videotaped and recorded through the years.
One of the latest works is a DVD release of Barenaked Ladies' Talk to the Hand: Live in Michigan. During the set, vocalist Steven Page asks how the "Pine Knobbers" are feeling, after which a large cheer fills the amphitheater.
As one of the first modern FM/broadcast television "simulcasts," in the summer of 1983, the Steve Miller Band was shown on Detroit broadcast station WKBD-TV and heard simultaneously on FM 98.7 WLLZ. This concert was a timely promotion for Miller's single, "Abracadabra," and featured an unseasonably cold and wet audience which weathered the event with excitement. Late in the afternoon, prior to the evening concert, tickets were made available at local record stores so Pine Knob could ensure a full venue, even with bad weather approaching.
On the black market, many bootleg recordings from the Pine Knob soundboard exist, as well as freely traded concerts like those of the Grateful Dead and Phish. The Dead's June 19 and 20, 1991 performances (featuring Bruce Hornsby on piano) saw an official release in 2006 as Grateful Dead Download Series Volume 11.
As an additional note, Genesis drummer and frontman Phil Collins is clearly seen wearing a Pine Knob logo golf shirt in the music video for the studio version of the song "No Reply At All". Alternate live versions of the song from the Three Sides Live recordings are not the same.
Jackson Browne used a photograph of himself and future wife Lynne Sweeney standing in the Pine Knob loading dock door in the booklet of his Running On Empty album. The photo was taken on August 21, 1977, by photographer Joel Bernstein.
The front cover of Joni Mitchell's 1974 live album "Miles of Aisles" features the interior of the pavilion as it appeared at the time, although the tracks on the album were recorded at venues in California.
The fourth incarnation of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, featuring Peter Frampton, Gary Brooker, Jack Bruce and Simon Kirke, filmed their performance at Pine Knob in May 1998 for home video release. To date, "Ringo Starr & His Fourth All-Starr Band" has only been released on VHS and has not been re-issued, although clips appear on 2001's "The Best of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band So Far" 
Steely Dan's Alive in America album features four tracks ("Bodhisattva", "Peg", "Kid Charlemagne" and "Sign in Stranger") that were recorded during the band's August 27, 1994 performance at Pine Knob.
- "PALACE SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT - DTE Energy Music Theatre". Palace Sports and Entertainment. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
- "Pine Knob to be Renamed DTE Energy Music Theatre.". PR Newswire. January 25, 2001. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Graff, Gary (May 18, 2012). "Pine Knob/DTE amphitheater has hosted buckets of rock history". The Oakland Press. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
- "Pollstar Awards Archive - 2000". Pollstar. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
- Gower, Misty (September 1, 2008). "DTE Energy Music Theatre goes green". The Flint Journal. Mlive.com. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- "Lake Orion High School graduation at DTE Energy Music Theatre". The Oakland Press. June 10, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Akers, Roy J. (June 3, 2014). "Photos from Clarkston High School graduation". The Oakland Press. Retrieved September 8, 2014.
- Graff, Gary (June 22, 2014). "Concert Review: Kid Rock helps Lionel Richie turn 65 at DTE". The Oakland Press. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
- Lacy, Eric (April 3, 2013). "Rob Zombie's guitarist John 5 explains 'ugly' incident with Marilyn Manson at Detroit show (with video)". Mlive.com. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
- "The Steve Miller Band - Live (1983 Pine Knob Detroit, MI)" Amazon.com sales page for The Steve Miller Band - Live VHS tape.
- "Peter Frampton Live in Detroit" Amazon.com sales page for Live in Detroit DVD.
- "Genesis - No Reply At All" Video (poss. illegal). Dailymotion. May 17, 2007.
- Blackburn, Dave (September 12, 2011). "A Conversation with Max Bennett". jonimitchell.com. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
- "AIA Quick Read Song Notes". steelydan.com. Retrieved September 8, 2014.