Bay Area Music Venue Profile: Shoreline Amphitheater

in Music News by

Designed to host the greatest and the grandest performances, the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View is a place for flair, where musicians try to match the natural grandeur of the Bay Area, and the venue gives them the best shot it can.

To give you a perspective of how imposing a venue this is, let’s take the seating capacity of this space: a massive 22,500. Of these, 6,500 are reserved seats, which means all the rest is up for general admission on the sprawling lawns of the amphitheater, and during festivals, the capacity expands up to 30,000. Unlike other venues this big – usually, areas that struggle to have a feeling of soul and presence – Shoreline has a sense of being a real destination, working with artists to create real, unique experiences for the audience.

Right from the time, it was built, the amphitheater has proved to be better than the average music venue. Little touches like the fact that each row of fixed seats was designed to provide a pitch of three feet (giving good space for everyone to dance), give it a sense of space that feels in keeping with the big skies and beautiful views of the neighborhood.

There’s not a bad seat in the amphitheater. You get a great view from just about everywhere, and the audio system is set up to make the most of the open-air feel (which is no easy task). There are screens spread throughout the space, to give everyone decent close-ups, and (if artists are up for it) the space allows fireworks to be worked into performances, turning the sky above the Bay into the biggest canvas imaginable.

While it’s a way out of the city, Shoreline is a big part of the musical history of the Bay Area over the last few decades. It’s been in Mountain View since 1986, with Julio Iglesias headlining the first show on June 29th (standing in for a Grateful Dead show postponed in the aftermath of The Endless Tour, which saw Jerry Garcia fall into a diabetic coma). Ultimately, the much-awaited performance by The Dead waited till October 2, 1987, in the first of nearly 40 performances at the venue, gathered together and released as the legendary live album View from the Vault, Volume Three.

The venue is one of the best-run in the state – they’ve had plenty of time to experiment with what works and what doesn’t. But it’s the lineups that are their greatest strength. Over three decades, they’ve hosted the All That! Music and More Festival, the Anger Management Tour, BeachFest, the Bridge School Benefit, Country Throwdown Tour, Family Values Tour, FoolFest, Furthur Festival, A Gathering of the Tribes Festival, H.O.R.D.E. Festival, Harmony By the Bay Festival, Honda Civic Tour, and the Identity Festival, among others. Coming up soon are G-Eazy, Lady Antebellum, Deep Purple and Judas Priest, and Ozzy Osbourne.

If you want a music experience in a beautiful outdoor space, Shoreline is perfect; it’s the kind of space that California – and the Bay in particular – was made for.

Photo courtesy of CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikipedia Creative Commons (Noah_Loverbear)

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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