Starting on June 26 and continuing through August 2020, Istanbul’s Yenikapi Show Centre will be the host to many concerts and film screenings.
Turkey has only just started to relax its lockdown restrictions, and many people can’t help but remain cautious in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Enter Kerki Solfej, an entertainment company headquartered in Izmir, who had the bright idea to organise massive drive-in concerts and film screenings in Istanbul.
Called “Park Et Seyret” (“Park and Watch”) the series will take place at Yenikapi Show Centre in Istanbul. The venue is a huge lot with a capacity of 1400 vehicles. It has been mostly used for political rallies in the past.
The concerts feature well known Turkish pop stars like Kenan Dogulu, who is performing on June 26 and July 17 and Sertab Erener performing on July 4. Buyuk Ev Ablukada will be performing on July 11, and mega rock stars Duman perform on July 25. 1990s phenomenon Levent Yuksel is also among the performers, as are Mabel Matiz, Ayta Sozeri, and Anadolu Atesi, a well established Turkish dance troupe.
Tickets are on sale at Ticketmaster Turkey, known as Biletix. No pedestrians will be allowed, and only smaller cars like sedans, hatchbacks, minis, station wagons, and coupe styles will be let into the concert area. SUVs and Jeeps are not allowed.
Kerki Solfej’s website guidelines say that tickets must be bought for a minimum of a driver and a passenger, and a maximum of three people including the driver. The minimum age limit for the concerts is six, while films are going to be screened according to movie ratings and parents should buy tickets accordingly, taking into consideration whether the film is appropriate for children.
The films listed include Turkish comedian Cem Yilmaz’s G.O.R.A, screening on June 30, Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) screening on July 1, Oscar winner Korean smash hit Parasite screening on June 28, the successful franchise Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw on June 29, and Marvel’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix on July 22.
In a video distributed to the press, pop star Kenan Dogulu during sound check says he has missed singing his heart out and is excited to be part of history, taking part in the first drive-in concert in Turkey. He praises the organisers, saying “they’ve thought of everything: health precautions, safety, security, technical aspects of broadcasting the music into the cars” adding that “our orchestra is ready too. It will be a beautiful night!”
Dogulu says it will be a different experience for him, not being able to receive instant feedback from the audience in the form of applause, screams, yells, chanting and the like. He says “I tell myself to pretend as if I’m performing at a TV programme without an audience.” He laughs and adds “maybe people will respond with their horns or their headlights to the concert.”
Dogulu says he’s a touchy-feely guy when it comes to audience interaction but because of coronavirus precautions this concert will have to be different. He says “to embrace the audience I would have to jump down, they’ve built the stage very high [4 metres], I would have to fall down.”
He says he’s taking part in the concert series not just to reunite with his audience, whom he hasn’t connected in “I don’t know how many months” but to also to allow his crew of nearly 200 people to “take home some earnings” after being cooped up at home without a job for months.
Asked if he will come as a member of the audience to the other concerts with his Cadillac, Dogulu, a classic car collector, says he will probably drive a different car to the events now that the Cadillac is too famous. He laughs and says “Why not? I would like to support my fellow artists. Sertab [Erener] has a new album out, I would like to hear it live. I also like Mabel [Matiz] quite a lot.”