St. Augustine Amphitheatre concerts should be on your summer to-do lists

And camp out if you can.

click to enlarge ROOM WITH A VIEW: St. Augustine Amphitheatre. - courtesy St. Augustine Amphitheatre
courtesy St. Augustine Amphitheatre
ROOM WITH A VIEW: St. Augustine Amphitheatre.

It’s less than 200 miles from Ybor City to the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, but something special is brewing at the 4,092-capacity venue situated on the outskirts of Anastasia State Park and just a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean.

Early this month, The National played its only Florida show of 2018 there; before that it was Bon Iver playing a Florida exclusive at the shed.The upcoming calendar includes some acts who’ll make it to Tampa Bay (like Bahamas, with whom CL speaks with here), but the Amphitheatre has booked names that aren’t touching our neck of the woods — highlights include indie-darling Soccer Mommy, opening for Paramore on June 12; Violent Femmes and Echo & the Bunnymen’s co-headlining on July 21; and pioneering proto-punk band MC5, which will bring a 50th anniversary tour to the venue on Sept. 6.

There is a magic about the facility run by St. John’s County.

“Every aspect of an artist’s visit revolves around making sure their experience is engaged with the local community and environment,” Ryan Murphy, director of cultural events for St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners, told CL.

“We offer the ability to take any member of the touring crew to the beach, for bike rides through the state park, for visits to the Alligator Farm, the lighthouse, fort, or any other key St. Augustine attractions.”

Murphy, 41, is in a band himself (post-hardcore outfit Deadaires, featuring former members of Against Me! and True North), but his day-to-day is built around creating something special for local music lovers and out-of-town fans who flock to the area for a uniquely Florida concert experience.

“Mostly we play into the environment that we are lucky to be located in and make the best of it — it’s gorgeous,” he added. That’s 100 percent accurate. The Amphitheatre, its welcoming new outside deck/bar, the landscaping and architecture are absorbed into Anastasia State Park’s environment. Salt Run (a tributary of the Matanzas River) and the nearby beaches are pure Florida, and historic St. Augustine’s tourist attractions and restaurants are always fun no matter how old you are. Its Green Hands initiative makes St. Augustine Amphitheatre one of the most environmentally friendly venues in the country.

click to enlarge Dunes at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Florida. - Florida State Parks
Florida State Parks
Dunes at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Florida.

You can even score a campsite within walking distance if you’re lucky. Most importantly, the venue is run by people who truly care about music and its effect on the community.

“We think about this venue and what we do from the viewpoint of artists and musicians, not just accountants and marketing people. We think about the experience of the concertgoer from the viewpoint of people who love, play, live and breath music,” Murphy said.

Colorado has Red Rocks, Tennessee has the Ryman and our friends in the northeast get to go to Merriweather Post Pavilion, but I’ll be damned if the St. Augustine Amphitheatre isn’t one of the most special places this state has to offer.

St. Augustine Amphitheatre | 1340C A1A South, St. Augustine. | 904-209-3746,

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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