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The live music scene is popping in San Diego, and the venues are as exciting and eclectic as the artists who rock them. Many of these venues take advantage of the beautiful San Diego weather, hosting awesome shows on sun-soaked, outdoor stages. Local music critic Jeff Terich gives the scoop on some great places to catch a show, San Diego style.
Mostly known for being the home of the San Diego Padres, this baseball stadium is located right in the heart of San Diego’s buzzing downtown and also hosts some amazing concerts.
Jeff Terich: “They’re always massive spectacles, with legendary artists like Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience, being with thousands of other people enjoying the same music.”
Jeff’s favorite outdoor music venue in San Diego is located on the San Diego State University campus and is one of the longest running outdoor music venues in the city. With a steep audience section, every seat has a good view of the awesome acts that come through, which include some of the biggest names in the business.
Jeff Terich: “It’s really great to see a show in a big venue that still feels intimate, and for that matter has a gorgeous nighttime sky view.”
This architectural masterpiece (built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition) is located in iconic Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in North America. Boasting the world’s largest pipe organ in a fully outdoor venue, the Spreckels Organ Pavilion has hosted live music acts ranging from big band swing to Latin salsa to post-hardcore punk.
Jeff Terich: “It’s just really impressive to hear the sound of the organ—it’s huge, super loud and powerful. There’s nothing like it.”
Humphreys is a 1,400-seat venue on Shelter Island, situated right on San Diego Bay. This intimate and historic stage has performances by big names across all genres, and is often accompanied by a perfect San Diego sunset. Many boaters and kayakers even float up to the side of the venue and join the party from the water.
Jeff Terich: “Being right next to the bay, it’s a scenic experience that feels a little bit like you’re stepping away from the city. But the sound and production there is excellent, so the concerts are always the attraction—even if the water looks inviting.”
Palm trees, skyscrapers and a giant wooden ship, The Star of India, surround Waterfront Park’s grass lawn and fountains—which visitors are more than welcome to splash around in. The venue hosts a wide variety of events year-round, but none more exciting than CRSSD Festival, San Diego’s biggest electronic music festival.
Jeff Terich: “The CRSSD festival takes place twice a year, and when it’s hot you have the benefit of being able to splash in the water, which is pretty cool. But you also can enjoy live music right next to the bay, which offers something most venues can’t.”
You never know where the next outdoor show will be popping up in San Diego. From festivals to cafes to street fairs to rooftop bars, San Diegans love to soak up good sounds, good vibes and sunshine. This is a place where there’s always an awesome show to catch and a reason to get up and dance.
Jeff Terich: “Sometimes art spaces and galleries put on outdoor shows, and there’s always live performances during the (quarterly) South Park Walkabout. But the best outdoor experience for live music is the Adams Avenue Street Fair, which is free, all-ages and has countless great bands play every year.”
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