Reveling in the Summer Concert Scene
Jul 29, 2022 at 8:00 AM in Just for Fun by
Have you been to a summer concert yet?
Whether you’ve packed a picnic and set up your lawn chair at one of the free outdoor music events hosted in communities around the country (around the world in fact) or scored some pricey tickets to see a rockstar at a renowned outdoor music venue such as Red Rocks (in Colorado), Saratoga Performing Arts Center, or SPAC (in New York), Tanglewood (in Massachusetts) or the Hollywood Bowl (in California). Music and summer go together like pretzels and beer. It seems as though this summer especially, it’s all about freedom.
With the worst of Covid behind us and soaring temperatures that command us to spend many a summer night outside, the theme “let freedom ring” seems to be more widespread than ever at the outdoor concert scene. This means more of letting it all hang out in every sense of the word. There’s a lot more skin being bared, much of which is tattooed. There’s no better place to show off your ink than at a summer concert. From skimpy halter tops, to super-short shorts, to teeny-tiny sundresses and long flowing skirts, there’s plenty of eye candy to behold at these venues and that’s not even counting all of the bare-chested brawn.
Maybe you thought that it was all about the music? No way. It’s also about the scene.
Pick your venue, pick your band, pick your scene. Whether you’re being quietly serenaded by The Philadelphia Orchestra within the stately grounds of SPAC in upstate New York or jamming to the driving beat of Dead & Company at mighty Folsom Field (about 50,000-seat capacity) in Boulder, Colorado, an outdoor concert experience offers more entertainment than just what’s on stage. The venue is not the only factor that contributes to the scene. Dead & Company, for example, have often played at SPAC, which presents the occasion for this elegant venue to be sprinkled with all kinds of fairy dust, angel wings, tie dye, Day-Glo accessories in a rainbow of colors, exotic face painting and all kinds of other seemingly infinite expressions of creativity. Indeed, psychedelics in all its forms headline shows put on by jam bands such as Dead & Company, Dave Matthews Band, The String Cheese Incident and countless other groups that foster the idea of cutting loose, letting go and the importance of feeling an exquisite sense of freedom. No, you can’t quite achieve such reverberations of otherworldliness at a sporting event, a theatrical production or a movie.
And how about the music?
Summer concerts often offer the opportunity for us to attend shows by the best of them. Touring for bands has become bigger than ever and many of their performances occur in the summer. These often free-wheeling events provide the occasion for other artists to make special appearances, creating memorable moments that further enhance the show. Take Joni Mitchell’s surprise participation at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. This revered musician wowed the crowd by playing her first full set in about twenty years. The popular singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile sang backup for her as she wooed the crowd with iconic songs, including “Both Sides Now.” Can you imagine being in the audience for that performance? She certainly gave folks something to talk about.
Another magical moment occurred this summer when Billy Strings stepped in for Phil Lesh on the last night of a five-night run for String Cheese, a beloved Colorado band. (Three of the shows were in Dillon and the last two were at Red Rocks.) Although many were disappointed that the legendary Grateful Dead guitarist was knocked out (with Covid), many were thrilled that the latest darling of bluegrass stepped in and practically stole the show. These are the kinds of mythical musical moments that happen during summer concerts.
There’s no doubt that the musicians and singers provide the soundtrack to these shows and those in attendance are like actors playing in this all-encompassing production. At the best shows, members of the audience sing along (or at least mouth the words), dance and/or just lose themselves in a heady reverie promoted by the music and atmosphere. Whether you take another sip of wine, a few puffs of Mary Jane or just open yourself up enough to allow the music in and the worries out, there’s no doubt that attending a concert–particularly in the open-air–can be transcending.
What’s super fun, too, is the fantastic people watching that goes on at these outdoor concerts.
At many of the shows, it’s all about the costuming, some of it so extraordinary that you can imagine that the people wearing these imaginative get-ups have been waiting for this event all year long. Many of these folks relish the fact that they can let their alter ego take over at the shows. They can leave their put-together businessman look at home in their closet and let themselves be a little crazy–or at least unwound–when attending such events. This is particularly the case for big music festivals. Sometimes it takes two or three days to let the relaxation sink in. No wonder big multi-day events in Telluride, Colorado such as the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Telluride Blues & Brews have enjoyed huge success for decades. People travel across the country to attend such gatherings and you can bet that there’s more to draw them in than just the lineup.
At dog-friendly venues, the dog watching seems to take centerstage over the people watching–or even sometimes the musicians headlining. No kidding. From poofed-up poodles to scruffy mutts, you can find all kinds of pups at outdoor events that welcome our four-legged friends. Fortunately, most act well behaved and appear to enjoy the scene as much as the humans. They even seem to do well with keeping their snouts out of nearby picnic spreads, another frequent component to such gatherings.
Who doesn’t want to become free spirited these days? There’s no doubt that there’s plenty to worry about but the good news is that attending an outdoor concert provides the best antidote to your woes. And heck, if you’re lucky enough not to have any problems, then attending an outdoor concert will help to create that extra lilt to your summer, one that you likely would not find on your couch at home. Go ahead and plan this essential part of summer fun. There’s still a lot of good weather left and great shows to be enjoyed (at our many Discovery Map destinations), so there’s no reason not to partake. See you at the show!