By John Hanley
“It’s five o’clock somewhere,” goes the traditional mantra. People who work your typical 9-to-5 generally look forward to five o’clock for the chance to head home, relax, and have a drink. Getting off of work is in itself a reward, but there’s another reason that members of the Greater Baton Rouge Area look forward to that beloved afternoon hour when the sun begins to fall low on the horizon.
That reason is Live After 5 (LA5). Seventeen years running, LA5 is a seasonal concert series that brings music and a feel-good atmosphere to the downtown Baton Rouge area each Friday. Located at the Crest stage near the North Boulevard Town Square, the concert attracts people from all over Baton Rouge and Louisiana alike. As the title implies, the shows start around 5 p.m. and generally runs to about 8 p.m. This year’s spring season is swiftly approaching, with the first show happening Friday, April 3rd.
Named the Best Community Event by 225 Magazine in 2014, the series has definitely garnered a lot of success, growing to attract between 5,000 and 10,000 people for each show. Alicia Baron, managing director for LA5’s producer, the Downtown Business Association, says she hopes to see a good turnout for this year’s season, and especially its first show, which falls on Good Friday.
“This year, we decided the first Friday [would be] Good Friday to give everybody an opportunity and reason to come down and celebrate the holiday,” she said. “There’ll be lots of bars and restaurants, we have great museums, and there’s so much to do, you can really come down and spend the whole day.”
However, the Good Friday show will only be the beginning. As with every season, the series runs for eight weeks, with a new artist each week. This year, the last show will be Thursday, May 21 in order to work with the well-known Bayou Country Superfest that starts May 22nd. However, unlike Bayou Country Superfest, LA5 is free and open to the public and also boasts a variety of genres.
“We definitely want to embrace all the different genres of music,” said Baron. “A lot of people we know come for certain artists, but we also know a lot of people come just because it’s LA5, and when they get there, some people don’t even know who’s playing. We definitely are trying to grow the event and we want to provide a diversity.”
Baron says they host a mix of original artists, cover bands, local and traditional Louisiana music, modern music, and even nationally touring artists. This year, notable acts include Cowboy Mouth, Hai Karate, Gina Brown, and Dumpstaphunk.
The goal of LA5 is not only to offer a variety of music for a variety of people, but to also display the diversity and the value of downtown Baton Rouge. She and the Downtown Business Association use LA5 as a means of bringing the significance of downtown Baton Rouge to light.
“[LA5] builds off of the foundation and the vision to bring people to downtown Baton Rouge,” she said. “There’s just so many things to do that people might not be aware of, and there’s just so much history and culture…we want to make sure we bring people down there.”
And, according to Baron, they’re having no trouble getting people to come downtown for the shows. The perfect kickback after a long workweek – complete with food, drinks, music, and fun – LA5, as Baron puts it, is an “overall a great experience.” It encompasses Louisiana culture and gives everyone in the Baton Rouge area a chance to unwind and laissez les bon temps roulez.