Last night I went to see Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris at a "benefit" concert for Summerstage. While the music was fine, I would normally say great but am now keenly aware that going to a concert like this is almost like going to an oldies concert so I'm having to rethink the definition of good. What wasn't good, however, was the entire atmosphere surrounding this "benefit". The "benefit" was definitely one-sided and for me it is sadly consistent with the degradation of NY institutions that I grew up with. This concert was the most expensive in the history of Summerstage clocking in at $55. The money pays for the rest of the series but it seems they are having a large number of these sorts of concerts this year so I think there is a good possibility that the organization is not being run as the lean project it once was. The weather was very similar to the weather during the blackout, air so heavy you can't breathe, sweat pouring down and through clothes. So tickets in hand thousands of us had to stand in a line that stretched down the park to around 64th Street. Then upon entering we were told we needed to throw out our water bottles or finish them. This so we could pay for more water inside to accompany the $6 beers and $6 hamburgers. So dazed from the heat we then needed to fight for space on the ground since two of the 4 grandstands were closed for a "partnership for parks" benefit. Since the experience of standing tightly packed as if on a subway car was not the most pleasant we left towards the end of the set only to find that the west side exit was closed to make room for yet another benefit dinner party taking place on the terrace steps behind the bandshell. With not a goodie bag in sight. The whole tiered thing with reserved grandstands and closed exits is so far from what Summerstage and even it's benefit concerts were it just makes me sad and a not a small bit angry. Lastly, no goodie bags.