It’s big, the lawn is slopey, but you’d be hard pressed to find another major outdoor venue as loose and chill as Shoreline, which is located in the Central California town of Mountain View. After catching a few shows last weekend we thought we’d share some facts about the venue as it celebrates 25 years of providing the Bay Area with big musical acts, and a look at what the venue has in store for the rest of the summer on into the fall.

*Most of the shots posted throughout this piece were taken at the Furthur shows last Friday and Saturday. The shows were on fire! People were stoked, and I’ll tell you what-being in the sun (yup, it didn’t really rain like it was supposed too) and hanging out on the grass was a treat compared to the cold rain and snow raging down in Tahoe.


25 years, 25 fabulous Shoreline Amphitheatre facts

It’s not pretty. It’s not convenient. It’s rarely cheap. But since opening its gates over the site of a former garbage dump in October 1986, Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View has hosted some of the Bay Area’s biggest concerts – from the Grateful Dead to Radiohead, the Spice Girls to the Backstreet Boys, the first Lollapalooza festival to Neil Young’s annual Bridge School shindig. We look back at some of the venue’s most memorable moments.


1 – Shoreline came with built-in pyrotechnics. It was built on landfill, and methane leaks in the lawn caused a series of small fires sparked by cigarettes during the opening season.

2 – It is now the largest Green Certified venue in the United States.

3 – Bill Graham designed the 22,000-capacity venue to look like the Grateful Dead’s “steal your face” skull logo. But the only way to see the shape is from up in the sky.

4 – Some have said that from the same aerial view, the tent that covers the stage looks like the world’s largest brassiere.

5 – The Grateful Dead was actually scheduled to play the opening show at the amphitheater but had to cancel after front man Jerry Garcia fell into a coma. They finally made it to the venue on Oct. 3, 1987.

If you go to Shoreline and members of the Grateful Dead are playing in the band, you're bound to run into interesting dudes like this guy who basically just blew bubbles out of that blue horn the whole show on Friday. I wonder what his mind was doing while he blew, then watched as each bubble flew away into the crowd?

6 – A Gathering of the Tribes, a two-day music festival in 1990 hatched by Bill Graham and the Cult’s Ian Astbury, featured an eclectic lineup that included Soundgarden, Ice T, Indigo Girls, Queen Latifah, Joan Baez, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop, the Charlatans UK, the Cramps, the Mission U.K. and Public Enemy.

7 – Lollapalooza arrived at the venue the next year.

8 – Since then, Shoreline has hosted several multi-band festivals, including the Vans Warped Tour, Lilith Fair, Ozzfest, Area:One, H.O.R.D.E, Projekt Revolution, Download and many, many others.

9 – This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit concerts, which premiered at Shoreline on Oct. 13, 1986.

10 – The Bridge concert has taken place there every year since with the exception of one show held at the Oakland Coliseum in 1988. That was obviously an error.

11 – Over the years, the Bridge shows have featured one-of-a-kind acoustic performances by the likes of Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Beck, Elton John and Pearl Jam. Just to name a few.

12 – In 1995, Bill Graham Presents attempted to give Shoreline a corporate identity, hoping to follow the lead of venues like 3Com Park and Arco Arena. The going price for a 10-year contract with naming rights on the venue was estimated to be $5 million to $10 million.

13 – The city of Mountain View, which rented the venue to the promotion company, balked at the deal.

14 – Because the facility was built on city-owned land, Mountain View residents were able to buy concert tickets one day before the public.

15 – In 1995 city officials had to change the rules so only residents who were older than 13 could buy tickets early after scalpers took advantage of the system by using children to buy extra tickets.

16 – Persistent noise complaints – 10,000 since the venue opened – from neighboring Palo Alto prompted a showdown with Mountain View city officials over the venue in 1996.

17 – Most of the complaints that year came from an AC/DC concert.

18 – One of the biggest manhunts in Bay Area history, involving 150 officers and four suspects in the armed robbery of a Silicon Valley Safeway store in 1996, ended at Shoreline. After a 10-hour search, police and eight SWAT teams rounded up the suspects in various corners of the amphitheater.

19 – El Niño storms turned the bowl-shaped venue into a lake overnight in 1998, destroying the backstage area and giant video system and causing more than $2.5 million in damage. There was no delay with the season opening concert by the Dave Matthews Band.

20 – Following the death of bassist John Entwistle less than a week earlier in 2002, the surviving members of the Who played a scheduled concert at Shoreline.

21 – Chronicle reporter Joel Selvin was on the scene: “No black armbands, no memorial posters, no makeshift shrines. … It was simply business as usual in the audience.”

22 – Six people were treated for stab wounds after several brawls broke out during Kiss FM’s 2009 Old School Fiesta concert featuring War, Brenton Wood, El Chicano, Lakeside and Trinere.

23 – The venue has also hosted the Dalai Lama.

24 – Shoreline averages 25 shows a year with an estimated 350,000 attendees passing through the venue.

25 – Some of the headliners appearing this year include Tim McGraw (June 16), Kid Rock (July 29), Yes (Aug. 3), 311 (Aug. 23), Lil Wayne (Sep. 2), Kings of Leon (Sep. 10), Santana (Sep. 24) and Journey (Oct. 15). {sbox}

Click here for a more detailed look at Shoreline’s upcoming calendar and to purchase tickets:

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