SARATOGA PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (AKA “SPAC”) - SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY
SEATING: RESERVED SEATS/GA LAWN
With its four extensive, protruding ramps, on first inspection this may bear more resemblance to a crash-landing site of some type of alien spacecraft than a concert venue. But upon further study, you’ll find SPAC to be one of the more unique amphitheaters in the region, and quite possibly the country.
Tucked away in the Saratago Spa State Park in upstate New York, SPAC brings with it an authenticity that most other American amphitheaters falsely manufacture; rather than creating the appearance of being in the the woods, SPAC actually IS.
Originally conceived under an effort to create an in-state summer residence for the New York Philharmonic, the performance center became a reality when the work and funds of local community organizations were met augmented with “generous contributions” (see: “boatloads of cash”) from both The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and New York State. Today, SPAC serves as the summer hot spot for both The New York City Ballet as well as the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Another unique attribute: rather than one level of reserved seating, SPAC feature a second upper level of seating that, because it’s innovative structural design and construction in a natural, curved bowl, does not obstruct the view of lawn patrons, of which the venue can accomodate upwards of 20,000.
But the real beauty of this venue is, well, the beauty. The architecture of the structure combined with the stunning natural landscape make this gem of a venue, and heighten the experience of seeing any artist. Unsurprisingly, this make SPAC a popular site for jam bands.
Though the Grateful dead hold the record for highest attendance at the venue at over 40,000 (set in 1985 before a stricter seating capacity was instituted), Dave Matthews Band has sold out a six concerts here, the most by any artist at the venue.
Here’s a clip from one of their two 2006 performances: