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A Backdrop for your Chords

BEST OUTDOOR MUSIC VENUES IN U.S.

  • July 12, 2019
  • Tips
  • By: Ben Hitch

If you want, we can play a game. Raise your hand if you like being outdoors? Ok, raise your hand if you like music? Now, here is the real tricky part, if you like music and the outdoors “put your motherfuckin’ hands up and follow me. Everybody from the 313 put your motherfuckin’ hands up. Look, look. Now while he stands tough, notice this man did not have his hands up.” Who is this guy? Why would you not have your hands up? Can you honestly say you don’t or wouldn’t enjoy music in an outdoor atmosphere? Certainly, hope not.

Now pending on the venue, it may promote different genres of music that will ultimately guide you to the front row, but there are a handful of iconic sites that must be experienced. Some are off in the woods, a few call a desolate landscape home and even nature has paved the way for some all natural viewing and entertainment. You may have to travel to any of the following venues, and adding a plane fare to the concert ticket will quickly escalate the price of the evening – but they are all worth it, especially if your all-time favorite band will be onstage. Check the venues calendars because there is someone you’ll want to see and it will be a once in a lifetime experience.

And in no particular order, let the show begin…

Red Rocks – Morrison, CO

Red Rocks is undoubtedly a fan favorite and if you haven’t heard of it, well, today is the day to look for flights to Denver and check the up coming shows. Red Rocks is a mere 20min outside of the Mile High City, nestled in a relatively natural amphitheater of red rock. There isn’t a bad seat in the place and even if your eyes stray away from center stage, the Denver skyline sits in the backdrop. The acoustics are contained by massive rock walls, which also lay a huge canvas for any light show that may accompany the performance. Only if you suffer from bathmophobia, should you not head to Red Rocks for what will probably be one of the most memorable shows of your concert career. And, make sure to explore the seating options. Up front is always great but from the top tier, Red Rocks is way better than any scenic viewpoint you’ve passed in your travels.

Upcoming Shows:

  • The String Cheese Incident, July 19-21
  • My Morning Jacket, Aug 2-3
  • Wu-Tang, Oct 31

The Gorge – George, WA

A few hours outside the music hub of Seattle lies The Gorge. Sitting on top of the Columbia River and sheer rock walls, The Gorge is an outdoor music oasis. There is nothing in sight for as far as the eye can see and where other venues send you home at night, The Gorge has onsite camping – just remember to raise the pirate flag because at the end of the night all the tents start to look alike. It’s a great spot for weekend-long events and should provoke your interest in the opening acts because the sun sets in the west, behind the stage. And our best advice, bring lots of water, set your tent up before the second beer and bring a plaid shirt, it is the PNW after all.

Upcoming Shows

  • Mumford and Sons w/ Portugal the Man, Aug 9
  • Watershed Festival, Aug 2-4
  • Dave Matthews Band, Aug 30-Sept 1

Hollywood Bowl – LA

Holly frick’n Wood, need we say more? Hollywood and LA certainly claim their fame to a plethora of National Enquirer type events and residents, but the Hollywood Bowl is a legendary outdoor music venue. It’s easily accessible for performers and enjoyers alike from LA and tucked away in the Hollywood Hills it proves to be a musical escape from all SoCal brake lights. Whether you pickup box, super or bench seats the Bowl proves to be an experience no matter where you’re positioned. And it’s historic band shell produces sound beyond what any minidisc could handle.

Upcoming Shows:

  • Jurassic Park in Concert, Aug 16-17
  • The Roots, Aug 28
  • Mary J Blige and Nas, Sept 17

Jones Beach – Wantagh, NY

Water – good. Waterfront view – real good. Waterfront view centered by a big stage – really really good. Once you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle of NYC proper, Jones Beach is waiting for you with some of the best performing artists of the past, present, and Future. The Jones Beach stage floats on the bay and opens a view unparalleled to other venues providing an escape from the thousands of NYC skyscrapers. It has the standard big screens encompassing the stage in case your not up front, but at Jones, not being upfront is more than okay. The name and occupancy levels have changed over the years, and a little hurricane named Sandy did stop by for a flooded performance, but Jones Beach remains one of two outdoor venues available to NYC and a true bucket list contender.

Upcoming Shows

  • Jimmy Buffett, Aug 8
  • Smashing Pumpkins, Aug 9
  • The Who, Sept 15

Mountain Winery – Saratoga, CA

You have to admit that you’ve always wanted to go to a concert at a castle or at least the facade of a one. The Mountain Winery is an intimate venue tucked in the vineyards of Saratoga, Ca with a lineup that matches the world’s most iconic venues – indoor or outdoor. You won’t find a bad seat and even better, there aren’t any jumbo trons blanketing the stage because no matter where you’re seated you’ll be able to see the artists smiling with a two-step. Of the outdoor venues, this is the one you bring a date to, maybe with a little picnic basket and something shiny if you’re ready for that. And don’t fret, just because it’s nestled in the vines doesn’t mean it won’t have other refreshments to fuel your evening inhibitions. 

Upcoming Shows

  • Rodrigo y Gabriela, July 21
  • George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Aug 3
  • Nick Offerman, Oct 11

So now that you have a venue bucket list, there is still some time in summer/fall buy your tickets. Better yet, Red Rocks has one show each winter and if you’re lucky enough the snow will be falling to put the icing on the cake to an already amazing experience – last year’s headliner was De La Soul. And if traveling to one of these iconic venues is a little too far fetched, there are some tours that may be stopping in your city that are definitely worth attending.

Remember to experience the show first hand with your eyes and ears, #notforthegram.

EDITOR'S TIPS

Check the weather before you head out for the show

There is such a thing as too much rock for one hand

Keep your phone in your pocket, all those pics and videos tend to suck the next day

When the speakers start thumping, water can prove to be a good friend

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