Is there anything as magical as an outdoor concert with sunshine on your bare arms and a warm breeze carrying a melody out over the sparkling river?
Bend’s summer months are brimming with opportunities to enjoy music in the great outdoors, and here are 7 of my favorites.
Ticketed concerts at the Les Schwab Amphitheater
Let’s start with the big dog, the Les Schwab Amphitheater. The venue has attracted some pretty huge talent over the years, including the Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay, Phish, Willie Nelson, and Paul Simon.
The 2017 lineup has already included tons of great shows, with more on the horizon from Slightly Stoopid, Jack Johnson (sold out—sorry!), the Avett Brothers, Diana Krall, Michael Franti & Spearhead, and Modest Mouse. Check the Les Schwab Amphitheater for dates, ticketing info, and pricing.
And that doesn’t even include all the awesome Free Summer Sunday Concerts happening through mid-July (more on that later!)
Make sure you bring a low-backed chair and plan on arriving a bit early to snag a good spot. You can buy food and drinks at the venue, as well as a reusable, limited-edition Silipint for beer, cider, wine, or cocktails for $20. Your first beverage is included in the price, and you get $1 off all subsequent beverages.
For more tips on attending shows at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, check out this post from last year.
Clear Summer Nights at the Athletic Club of Bend
A smaller, more intimate venue than Les Schwab, the Athletic Club of Bend sounds like an odd spot for a concert series. But the Clear Summer Nights Series attracts some surprisingly big and well-known talent. (For the record, last year’s Lord Huron/Trampled by Turtles show topped my personal list of favorite shows of the 2016 season, and that’s coming from someone who attended more than two dozen concerts last summer).
UB40 kicked off the series earlier this week, but there’s plenty more coming. In 2017, we’ll have the John Butler Trio on September 10, Phillip Phillips September 19, and The Shins September 26.
One cool perk at this venue is the chance to purchase dinner tickets so you get a killer meal and even a glass of wine to enjoy with the show. The small size of the venue means many shows sell out, so act quickly if any of those names caught your eye.
Munch and Music
Bend’s free music scene is surprisingly awesome for a town this size, and the crown jewel of it all is Munch and Music.
Enjoying its twenty-seventh anniversary in 2017, the series takes place Thursday evenings in Drake Park and is open to all ages free of charge. You’ll pay for food and drinks at the plentiful food booths, or you’re welcome to bring a picnic supper (though no outside alcohol is allowed into the venue). Dogs are also not allowed at the shows, but they’re very kid-friendly and feature added amenities like bouncy houses to help get the wiggles out.
The series kicked off last week with an awesome Abba cover band and continues this week with Cowboy Junkies on July 13. Next is Ozomatli on July 20, The Brothers Comatose on July 27, and Too Slim and the Taildraggers on August 3.
Music begins at 5:30, and you should plan on arriving early with your low-backed chair to snag a good seat. Oh, and did I mention it’s FREE?!?!
Free Summer Sunday Concerts
The Old Mill District’s answer to Munch & Music, the Free Summer Sunday Concert Series starts each year in early-June and spans through mid-July.
The last one is happening this Sunday, July 16, with classic rock & roll from Streetlight Moon, so this is your last chance to sample this awesome event for the season.
Besides the music, the event features food vendors, bouncy houses, and other family-friendly activities. You can also bring a picnic of your own if you’d prefer. Concerts start at 2:30 and run through 4:30, and are super family-friendly (my stepdaughter has turned many-a-cartwheel in front of that stage during these shows!)
Worthy Brewing Twilight Tunes
Bend’s northernmost brewery has some pretty cool features like on-site gardens and their new Hopservatory.
But they also boast a robust concert schedule that includes Twilight Tunes and Worthy Wednesdays. Musical acts range from local talent to acts from outside the area, and their outdoor stage is impressive for such a small venue.
Most shows go from 6-9, and you can consult the schedule to see when the next event is happening. Grab a brew and some of their mouthwatering fish tacos (among the best in town!) and park yourself on their sunny patio.
Crows Feet Commons
Another smaller venue with a happenin’ music scene is Crows Feet Commons. Part bike shop, part café, ALL awesome, Crow’s Feet Commons offers regular outdoor shows right outside their shop in the Mirror Pond Plaza.
The size of the venue and the popularity of many of their acts means you’re smart to buy ahead. For instance, the Matisyahu show happening Sunday, July 16 is almost certain to sell out, so snag tickets beforehand for this or any other show that piques your interest on their event calendar.
They also have a great selection of local brews on tap, along with wine and a full espresso bar.
Oodles of other options
Tons of other local hotspots offer outdoor music on a more sporadic basis. GoodLife Brewing and 10 Barrel Brewing’s new Eastside locations both boast regular live music in the summer months.
If you’re a wine lover who doesn’t mind a bit of a drive, Faith, Hope and Charity Vineyards and Maragas Winery both have regular musical entertainment at their scenic vineyard locations.
For a great roundup of musical happenings all over Central Oregon, check out Visit Bend’s event calendar. You can search by date or by type of event to find exactly what you’re after.