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By Scott Roberto / May 23, 12:00 AM
Outdoor Music in the Hub
Photo: Scott Roberto


Our guide to the best al fresco music venues the Boston area has to offer


For some, taking advantage of the warm weather has nothing to do with hiking, biking, boating or even patio dining. For diehard music fans, it’s all about taking in the sounds of summer by visiting one of the many places in Greater Boston that host live music in the great outdoors. Venues small or large, acts international or super-local, it doesn’t matter—as long as you want to feel the sun, the breeze and the rhythm, there’s no better place to be over the next few months than right here.

The summer unofficially kicks off with Memorial Day weekend, of course, and so does the summer music season. Taking place May 24–26 at the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston, Boston Calling (pictured) is one of the best multi-day festivals in the country. Some of the biggest acts in the world—including headliners Ed Sheeran, Leon Bridges, Tyler Childers, Trey Anastasio, The Killers and Hozier—perform this year across four stages along with dozens of other bands and artists. For music with a view, the Leader Bank Pavilion in the Seaport right on Boston Harbor is a popular destination. Season highlights at this tented, open-air gathering spot include Cole Swindell (May 30), Roger Daltrey (June 20), Jason Mraz (July 6), Slash (August 1) and Melissa Etheridge with the Indigo Girls (August 17). Historic Fenway Park, home to the beloved Boston Red Sox, has hosted some of the biggest summer shows in town for several years now, and this year is no different. Check out Hootie and the Blowfish on June 21, Noah Kahan on July 18 & 19, Kane on July 20, Foo Fighters on July 21, blink-182 on July 23, Def Leppard and Journey on August 5, Green Day on August 7 and Pearl Jam on September 15 & 17. For those that want to just chill and listen to some local bands with a beverage and some friends, there’s the Lawn on D next to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in the Seaport, which hosts free live music most weekend nights beginning in June.

And speaking of free music: The Boston Pops, as Bostonians well know, are no strangers to outdoor shows, as its annual Fourth of July concert is held every year at the Hatch Memorial Shell along the picturesque Charles River. The Pops aren’t the only act to play there, however, as the stage also hosts a variety of acts and organizations throughout the summer, including the Boston Landmarks Orchestra.

Las summer saw the debut of a new outdoor venue as The Stage at Suffolk Downs graced former horse racing track in East Boston with an exciting lineup of shows. This year is no different as the Eastie locale welcomes such acts as The Avett Brothers (May 18), Faye Webster (July 27) and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard (August 19) .

For those that don’t mind wandering a bit farther afield, two of the largest summer venues in the area lie less than an hour south of the city. The Xfinity Center, a classic “shed” style amphitheater with covered seating as well as a large general admission lawn area, resides in Mansfield and presents such familiar acts as Neil Young & Crazy Horse (May 17); Pixies and Modest Mouse (June 16); Outlaw Fest with Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant & Alison Krauss (July 2); Alanis Morissette (July 9), Dave Matthews Band (July 12) and Phish (July 19–21). For an even grander outdoor show experience, nearby Gillette Stadium, fall home to the New England Patriots, welcomes all the giant summer touring artists, including the Rolling Stones (May 30), Zack Bryan (June 26 & July 17), Metallica (August 2 & 4), Pink (August 21) and Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown Band (August 23–25).

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