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Still the Knob -- DTE Energy Music Theatre

Aug 21, 2007
It's been a popular summer concert venue for more than 35 years now. The DTE Energy Music Theatre is a 15,274-seat amphitheater located in Clarkston, Michigan. It was originally known as the Pine Knob Music Theatre, due to its proximity to the nearby Pine Knob ski area and golf course, certainly within a limo or luxury sedan ride of most Detroit suburban locations.

In early 2001, the name was changed 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 folks still continue to call the music concert venue, Pine Knob or "the knob". The amphitheater's current owners are Palace Sports and Entertainment (PS&E).

The amphitheater had its grand opening in June 1972, with an Andy Williams concert. However, on June 25, 1972 (a few days before Williams' appearance), there was a "pre-opening" concert featuring teen idol David Cassidy. Since then, many of the greatest stars in music have performed there. Chicago has appeared at this venue almost every year since 1972, and Eddie Money typically opens the concert season each spring. Annually, the music theater has consistently ranked among the top-selling outdoor concert venues in the nation.

DTE is the usual Detroit area stop for some of the biggest tours of the summer concert season, including Ozzfest, Gigantour, Reggae Sunsplash and the Family Values Tour, and was the Detroit area stop for Lollapalooza (in all years it played there but one) before that tour signed an exclusive deal with the City of Chicago.

Canadian Power-Trio Rush have regarded DTE as their favorite venue to play in the U.S.A. DTE Energy Music Theatre also hosts the Clarkston High School graduation ceremony, typically held at the end of May or beginning of June.

Sometime in the early 2000s, the city of Clarkston passed an ordinance forbidding concerts or events to last past 11:00PM. There had been complaints from nearby residents regarding the noise from the Knob. Now band(s) playing there are subject to a $5000 fine for going beyond the 11:00PM time limit and then charged $10000 per minute fine for every minute past 11:10PM they play. Although a fair amount of bands choose to play past 11 pm anyway, typically Aerosmith give the fine money as a deposit.

Concert-goers attending shows at DTE Energy Music Theatre will enjoy more than $6 million in improvements this summer. Palace Sports & Entertainment is making a variety of enhancements throughout the venue to provide improved amenities for its guests and performers. The total represents the most extensive upgrade of the facility since the organization's $8 million original overhaul of the famed amphitheater when it purchased the venue prior to the 1991 season.

The most dramatic change will be the total refurbishment of the venue's original main concessions building and its plaza, located inside the East Entrance at the base of the hill. The structure will be totally rebuilt to provide improved points of sale and in a style fitting the venue's overall look. The plaza area in front of the L-shaped structure will feature two exciting additions: a 400 square foot barbeque pit area and a full-service bar dubbed "On The Rocks" for its stone makeup and location incorporating one of the venue's many water features. A wider and more attractive stairway will improve this area's access for guests entering from the West Entrance.

Additional DTE Energy Music Theatre improvements:
- Replacing entire pavilion roof
- Renovating all restrooms
- Refurbishing backstage area including artist dressing rooms, offices and dining room, and adding an additional loading dock/receiving area
- Introducing improved directional signage throughout the grounds
- Upgrading the lighting, revamping the bar area and replacing pavers in the Starlite club
- Adding a new color scheme to be seen throughout the venue, including on concessions stands, in Starlite club and on facade of buildings
- Rebuilding and moving the merchandise stand inside the East Entrance
- Landscaping areas along concourses and water features throughout the grounds
- Repaving with brick pavers in areas of the grounds
- Improving point-of-sale system in concessions stands and Starlite club for faster charge card and gift card authorizations.
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