When Wilco played Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park last summer, the sound, the light show and overall intensity of the performance all fell short compared with the band’s two shows at the pristine State Theatre in Minneapolis seven months earlier. So why did nearly everybody who saw them both places rave more about the Bayfront gig?
It’s all about the venue, stupid. Even a theater as ornate as the State is never going to beat a good outdoor concert in the hearts of cooped-up Minnesota music fans, especially not one surrounded by Twin Port harbor lights and ironclad bluffs and that iconic Lift Bridge.
With that in mind, here are the 10 best outdoor venues within a half-day’s drive of the Twin Cities.
Note: We limited this list to venues within a 4- to 5-hour drive from the Twin Cities (i.e., no Alpine Valley). We also discounted sites that hold just one or two events (i.e., We Fest grounds) or that only seem to book Kenny Chesney shows (i.e., Target Field).