10: Ravinia, Chicago
Every year, Chicagoans flock to this North Shore green space and spread out blankets for a concert series that stretches all summer long. You can't beat the location – "smack dab in the middle of some of the highest per-cap-income earners on the planet," in the words of Andy Cirzan, vice president of concerts for Chicago's Jam Productions. Over the years, it's welcomed a wide range of big-name acts including Bob Dylan, Rufus Wainwright, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Joni Mitchell, the Beach Boys and many more.
Fun Fact: Janis Joplin's summer 1970 Ravinia performance drew a security force of 200 police officers due to paranoia after fans rioted before a Sly and the Family Stone concert in Chicago the previous month.
9: Greek Theatre, Berkeley, California
The gem of Berkeley went up almost 110 years ago and slowly evolved from Teddy Roosevelt speeches to shows by acts like the Pixies, Arcade Fire, Tom Petty and the Postal Service. Its classical columns and off-white coloring date from the late nineteenth century, when a University of California president judged the Olympic Games in Athens and came home inspired. Most fans notice the views more than the architecture, however: "Great to go to the top, looking out over the Bay and San Francisco skyline while the band plays below," says Fall Out Boy manager Bob McLynn.
Fun Fact: Berkeley originally built the Greek in part to become a sort of "Athens of the West."
8: Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre, Wantagh, New York
Even Hurricane Sandy couldn't take down this resilient beachside theatre, built in 1930 and run from the Fifties to the Seventies by schmaltzy crooner Guy "Enjoy Yourself" Lombardo. To repair the theatre after last October's superstorm, promoter Live Nation spent $20 million pumping out 3 million gallons of water, rebuilding the stage and boardwalk, replacing nine miles of cables, hauling out hundreds of tons of debris and meticulously cleaning, well, everything. This spring, the theatre reopened right on time. "With waves breaking on either side of the stage house, Jones Beach is one of a kind," says Michael Rapino, Live Nation's chief executive.
Fun Fact: When Lombardo died in 1977, New York promoter Ron Delsener took over, replacing Lombardo's Broadway productions with rock concerts.
- Rufus Wainwright