The ten greatest jam-band meccas

Categories: Commentary, Lists

Eric Gruneisen

For many jam band fans, traveling and seeing concerts goes hand in hand. Often when a favorite band announces its tour, folks will scan the tour dates and choose which dates to go to depending on which venue they are booked at. From giant outdoor summer sheds to intimate houses, here are the ten greatest places that hold special moments of jam band history.

See also: The ten biggest jam-band scene stereotypes


10. Bethel Woods Center for the Arts - Bethel, New York
Located on the 1969 site of the original Woodstock festival, this idyllic venue gets people to travel to upstate New York regularly in the summer for music, camping and the arts. The area, which seems delightfully stuck in a simpler era, is absolutely worth the gas money. An on-site museum has exhibits highlighting the significance and impact of Woodstock on society and popular culture. The outdoor venue holds 15,000 with the lawn, and Phish, Furthur and Dave Matthews Band have all played here. Hard to believe there was once over 400,000 people here at once.


9. Oak Mountain Amphitheatre - Pelham, Alabama
The largest outdoor venue in Alabama, Oak Mountain Amphitheatre is a must in the summer, especially for Widespread Panic fans. The band has been playing there since 1990, and although it had a rough year in 2002 when local law enforcement went after people in "Operation Don't Panic," overall, there has always been a very together and communal vibe here. The layout of the stage is such that the band feels like they are right there with you in the bowl, and bands tend to play high energy scorchers year after year here.


8. Klipsch Music Center - Noblesville, Indiana
Formerly known as Deer Creek Music Center, this large outdoor theater has seen some major summer heaters played under its pavilion, the most famous being when the Grateful Dead played here in 1995. The sleepy cornfield Indiana town was inundated with Deadheads, far more than predicted, and some fans took the liberty of storming the back fence during "Desolation Row," causing the next night's show to be canceled. Regardless of that bit of negative history, bands play really, really well here; claustrophobic summer heat and sporadic Midwest storms just add to the experience.


7. Gathering of the Vibes - Bridgeport, Connecticut
In 1996, a memorial party for Jerry Garcia was thrown, and it proved to be so successful that the next year, it was organized as a festival. Named Gathering of the Vibes, the event has been thrown annually, getting larger through the years. Various Grateful Dead members have played the festival, and Wavy Gravy has been the master of ceremonies since 2002. So you know you are in the right place if you're a Deadhead. Set in various beautiful New England locations -- with this year edition being held at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut -- this is as close as you can get to a what life would be like in a world inhabited by Deadheads.

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I'm shocked Bridgeport made this list.  It's a cesspool of crack and homicide.

Sean Garvey
Sean Garvey

Five. Fillmore and Bethel still high on the list

Grace SuperMom S
Grace SuperMom S

The mothership!. Saw pretty lights, Bassnectar and Big Gigantic for BassLights:)

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

Been to Deer Creek and Red Rocks. Looks like I've got some traveling to do,

Greg Schlenker
Greg Schlenker

Another nice piece, Leslie. Red Rocks over the Mother ship tho :)

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