The City of Suwanee’s summer concert is back with a returning act.
The Smithereens, a New Jersey band formed in 1980, are best known for their songs “Only a Memory,” “A Girl Like You” and “Too Much Passion.” The band will headline the city’s 16th annual August Concert & Wing Fest, held from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday in Suwanee Town Center Park. The Smithereens played live at Suwanee Town Center Park during Suwanee Day in 2012.
The concert continues the tradition of the city’s event planners bringing classic acts with hit singles to the park to unofficially close out the summer event season — the city’s largest event, Suwanee Fest, leads into the fall. In 2018, the summer concert featured Gin Blossoms and Spin Doctors played the park in 2017.
“When we book our August concert, we’re looking for bands that throw back to the college-age time for many of our residents,” event planner Amy Doherty said. “The Smithereens hit that era for some of us that grew up in the ’80s and ’90s and take us back to those fun summers.”
The Smithereens have been active for 39 years and still feature original band members Jim Babjak (lead guitar), Dennis Diken (drums) and Mike Mesaros (bass). The band was in heavy rotation on MTV in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and also made appearances on “The Tonight Show,” “Conan O’Brien” and “Saturday Night Live.”
The band has released 17 albums. Since their last appearance in Suwnaee, the band has release two compilation albums. On their newest compilation, “COVERS” (2018), Smithereens tribute 22 of the band’s favorite songs first recorded by other artists.
The Smithereens have played more than 2,500 shows, including the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey and Radio City Music Hall. The song “A Girls Like You” hit No. 38 on Billboard’s rock charts in 1990 and the band toured alongside Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2012.
The evening will also feature live music from LJ3 and New Mantra.
Doherty said area around the amphitheater fills up quickly. Attendees are encouraged to set up after noon to avoid the park’s sprinklers and allow for event setup, but there will also be a screen and video board to view the stage from far away.
The wing festival will showcase chicken wings from several local restaurants including Buffalo’s Cafe, Cheeky, Country Pepper, Friend’s Neighborhood Grill, Ippolito’s, Johnny’s Pizza, Spice Wing, Taco Mac and Tequilla Mama. Snack stations for kettle corn, ice cream and peanuts will be scattered in the park with some food trucks.
“The wings are definitely the highlight because we’ll have so many and a variety available,” Doherty said.
A wing eating contest will challenge locals to see who can eat 10 wings the fastest and cleanest. Attendees can submit their names in a raffle on the day of the event to be entered into the competition.
Entrance to the festival and summer concert is free. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets for amphitheater seating. Free shuttles are available from Shawnee North Drive — south of the park on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road near Satellite Boulevard. Coolers are permitted, but alcohol is not and will be served by local vendors.
Parking is available at lots around the park and across Buford Highway at Playtown Suwanee Park, the Gwinnett County Public Library, the Suwanee Police Department and the Suwanee Municipal Court. Some parallel parking is permitted along Suwanee Avenue, but not in the cul de sacs south of Suwanee Avenue.