V.com weekend vote: Do you enjoy outdoor concerts more than indoor concerts?

May 17, 2019, 12:44 PM · Summer is just around the corner, and that means outdoor concerts!

outdoor concert

Do you enjoy outdoor concerts, with that fresh air, music-under-the-stars, back-to-nature feeling? Do you like them more than indoor concerts? Or would you prefer to go to an indoor concert, with no bugs, no need to bring the lawn chair, and no threat of rain? Or maybe you like them equally?

I have some incredibly happy memories of outdoor concerts -- but also a few stressful ones!

As an audience member, I loved going to see the Cleveland Orchestra during the summer at Blossom Music Center, when visiting my grandparents in Cleveland. I also have a fond memory of sitting out in the lawn for a performance by the Chicago Symphony of Mahler Symphony No. 1, at Ravinia, back when I was a student. But also I remember a soggy picnic in the rain, at a July 4 performance by the Cincinnati Symphony at Riverbend.

On the performing side of things, I also remember the constant threat of a flash thunderstorm during the three-nightly concerts that I played one summer at EPCOT in Orlando, Fla. Those storms would come up so fast, we literally had to bolt from the stage and flee to the little sheltered backstage, to protect our instruments from the rain! These days, I occasionally play for a Pasadena Pops concert at the LA County Arboretum - a gorgeous setting but for the occasional wailing of peacocks!

What are your experiences and feelings about outdoor concerts? You can answer either as an audience member, or as a performer. Do you enjoy outdoor concerts? Or do you find the inconveniences to be a deal-breaker? Please respond to the vote and then tell us in the comments about any fond memories, or disaster stories!


May 17, 2019 at 06:00 PM · I think the worst idea in this regard is Tanglewood. Every summer the Boston Symphony is driven (or maybe the musicians drive themselves) to the other end of the state to perform outdoors a series of concerts. The bulk of the audience also drives the 300 miles from Boston, emitting tons of CO2 in the process. Meanwhile in Boston, where every body started out is one of the best concerthalls in the world.

I understand that the towns in the Berkshires are keen on having the festival. But it really is a giant waste.

May 17, 2019 at 07:03 PM · good

May 17, 2019 at 10:42 PM · "I avoid outdoor concerts" is how I voted. I had fun with them once in a while during my student years. I heard the CSO several times at the above-mentioned Ravinia. It was great. Ditto for the Boston Pops, which I got to hear many times during my Boston years, taking long walks in summer along the Charles River, which separates Boston from Cambridge. No adverse weather any of these times in either location.

And I can attest to the appeal of Symphony Hall, the home hall of the Boston Symphony. I went once. That, too, was great. The acoustics there far outdo anything I ever caught outdoors.

The reason I avoid outdoor concerts these days is that my schedule precludes live concerts. Most of them are in the evening, and I don't care to be out at night anymore -- that's really nothing new with me. So I've had to add them, at least for now, to the file drawer of "Been There, Done That." I know this probably sounds like apostasy, coming from a former music major.

Thanks to modern technology, though, I more than make up for this, taking in multiple symphony concerts each week via YouTube -- with wide screen and high-quality stereo playback. I subscribe to YouTube Premium, formerly YouTube Red, so I don't get this entertainment free. There's a small monthly fee and, in return, no ads to interrupt the programs.

May 18, 2019 at 01:21 AM · I was going to say that I don't enjoy outdoor concerts, but I haven't been to very many, and there was one that I really enjoyed. We had taken the family to Colonial Williamsburg on the Fourth of July several years ago, and in addition to the fireworks we were treated beforehand to a terrific concert by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra under the baton of their longtime director, JoAnn Falletta.

May 18, 2019 at 05:03 AM · Heat, humidity, bugs, and the constant threat of thunderstorms. Playing on an instrument just one step better than a VSO. What's not to love? /s

May 18, 2019 at 10:42 AM · I enjoy outdoor concerts, even after having played several in 95-degree heat, but greatly prefer indoor concerts both as a performer and an audience member. It's the acoustics, mostly. Outdoor concerts always feel a bit "off" because the music is amplified, the only exceptions in my experience being a handful of chamber music performances in relatively enclosed outdoor spaces.

May 18, 2019 at 02:20 PM · Been to kirstenbosch out door concerts often, they tend to be low brow, if you walk up to the contour path and then round to devils peak (the last one) then down to 100 meters you would be in what was my office...

May 18, 2019 at 04:08 PM · I will generally attend some of the major local symphony concerts providing that they are free; I would never pay for an outdoor concert. I generally avoid non-classical outdoor venues as the sound is so amplified and distorted IMO that it can hardly be called music anymore.

May 19, 2019 at 12:17 AM · I'm with Mary Ellen. My longest experience w/ outdoor concerts was in southern Arizona. Not pretty.

My first experience was in Paestum, Italy, on the ruin of the temple to Apollo (or so we were told). A moth flew into my instrument. It rattled around creating a cloud of dust and a muted percussion. Terrified me, and I got signs against the Evil Eye from a few of the audience. Not easy to extract a bulbous-large dead moth thru thru the f-hole.

May 19, 2019 at 04:37 AM · When I lived in L.A., I would go to the LA Phil/Hollywood Bowl concerts sometimes. The cheap seats were Really cheap, (I spent as little as $2), the summer evening weather was great, and you could bring a picnic dinner and a bottle of something. Someday I hope to see Aida at the Verona Roman Arena. As a player, outdoors is always annoying.

May 19, 2019 at 04:32 PM · I'm not a fan of outdoor concerts because of what I call the three-B's: Bugs, Booze, and Boorish people (actually the last to are linked).

For some bio-chemical reason bugs of all sorts see me as a movable feast and unless I soak myself in nasty chemicals I'm guaranteed to become somebody's main-dish.

Then there are the people who might not usually go to a concert but since they can bring their picnic and their booze they get happily plastered to the sounds of music played outdoors.

To each his/her own. If you invite me to an outdoor concert I will decline tactfully and just tell you I have a previous commitment.

May 19, 2019 at 06:22 PM · I remember a bee buzzing around the first violin section during an outdoor opera performance. Also, the acoustics were terrible. It was hard to hear anything but the few people behind and beside me. A change of pace nonetheless.

May 19, 2019 at 08:47 PM · Tanglewood....been there many times.......in an all Tchaikovsky concert....115° F outside....125 thousand people.....yes...( 100 years ago).. including my wife and a basket with wine and savory cheeses and a blanket.....

Perlman was the soloist OP 35 in D....then symphony number.....? Will tell you later....

and BBQ with members of the BSO, and members of Philadelphia Orchestra......yes I have a connection........my wife is from that area.........

.went to concerts with her mom.....

My wife is a percussionist, I am a violinist.

...love doing concerts outside......my greatest loving achievement.....teaching a 4 year old girl to play Twinkle twinkle Little star....in just a few minutes.......after an outside.....very outside....quartet concert...yes...after a Tanglewood concert..."Send me outside and I will bring you a Twinkle star.......Just love music...and all of you....peace....

May 19, 2019 at 10:11 PM · I enjoy both equally. There’s nothing like being on the balcony watching the Cleveland Orchestra play great music. Since I don’t get to do it often, it’s a night to do special things and be aware of the great sound. An outdoor concert with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra is great as well. I must confess, I had pavilion seats, so it was almost outside, more or less. But to hear the 1812 Overture for the 4th of July is amazing. That particular day was a good memory as I went with a friend after she had gotten out of the hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown. She was alone and the music was a comfort. She fell asleep, but I was glad she had some peace, if only for a little while.

May 20, 2019 at 12:13 AM · Generally agree that outdoor concerts suffer, but... If you ever get the chance to attend a concert at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens you will discover that outdoor acoustics can be astonishing. The ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about acoustics! This is one of the most stunning concert venues in the World bar none and can compete acoustically with anything built in the last four hundred years

May 20, 2019 at 12:53 PM · Is that where Pink Floyd held their concert?

May 20, 2019 at 05:37 PM · Pluses and minuses to both. When outdoor concerts go well I probably like them most as a spectator. When they don't go well that's another story.


-More freedom of movement. No tightly spaced seats. The freedom to bring along food and beverages.

-A generally more casual atmosphere in my experience.


- Bad weather greatly affects the outcome

- You might be seated next to a loud obnoxious person and need to relocate. This seems to be more prevalent outdoors. They feel they can holler and shout because they are outside.

-Bug and birds making deliveries. You never know what kinds of critters might make their way in your direction when outside.

-The acoustics of the space may not be to your liking.


-The space is almost always temperature controlled. It can be 100F outside and 72F inside.

-Generally better overall acoustics

-Players are usually under less stress. No need to worry about wind, bugs and rain. This means a better overall presentation.

-better vantage points. Seating made for each person to see the whole show.

-less distraction.


- Sometimes cramped seating

- mobility is lessened. Longer waits in lines to go in or out.

Indoor events are more predictable. More things can go wrong outdoors.I tend to enjoy outdoor concerts the most though when they go well.

May 21, 2019 at 11:02 AM · There are a couple of free outdoor concerts that happen as part of the sydney festival each January. Yes there's bugs and booze and boores, but there are also plenty of people (and their kids) taking there enjoying music they wouldn't otherwise listen to. I think this is a great way to bring 'classical' music to new audiences. The informal atmosphere does allot to combat the image of orchestral music as elitist.

May 21, 2019 at 08:18 PM · Outdoor concerts have their pluses and minuses. I remember a folk festival where half a dozen of us rolled a tarp up and over us to keep off the rain while lightning bolts struck a couple of miles to the west. (The music continued, and fortunately the weather improved as the night went on.)

On the other hand, I also remember sitting on the grass in Princes Street Garden in Edinburgh while a live orchestra played in perfect sync with the fireworks being shot off the castle. The obligatory 1812 Overture was spectacular, but Ride of the Valkyries and Beethoven's Egmont Overture sounded as if they were written for the fireworks as well.

I haven't played in an orchestra outdoors without a tent to shield us from wind and rain, so I have no horror stories there. We do bluegrass jams outside during the summer months, though - there's no sheet music to worry about, and it's fun to watch the daylight fade and the bats fly around overhead while we play.

May 21, 2019 at 08:56 PM · Surely - it depends more on what's being performed and by whom than on where it is?

If you are going to have fireworks, e.g. 1812, Wellington's Victory, West Side Story selection, Handel's Fireworks music (Anyone tried doing the Leningrad with fireworks? might take a bit of the boredom out of the first movement), it probably needs to be outside - unless you make do with indoor fireworks/indoor sparklers.

But then I'm posting from the UK, so what do I know (probably not as much as Charlie above)?

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