Where to Catch a Summer Show in NEO


Everyone already knows that Cleveland rocks.

Though we may not be the biggest metropolis, we do have a major advantage over bigger cities: We’re home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which means nearly every major musical act hits up the CLE at some point or another. How lucky are we?!

Old Hard Rock Sign

As the weather heats up, so does the city’s concert schedule.

This summer, Northeast Ohio will host everyone from Taylor Swift to Lady Antebellum, from Brad Paisley to Barenaked Ladies – and that’s not even counting all the great local music that plays here year-round.

No matter your genre of choice, there’s a show for you headed our way this summer – so if you’re looking to enjoy some tunes in the great outdoors, check out one of these rockin’ local venues:


FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland (Downtown)

First Energy

No “Factory of Sadness” here: The stadium where the Browns play is also a popular concert venue in the warm-weather months, hosting the biggest of the big names (past shows, for example, include the likes of One Direction and U2). Fans pack the stadium for the sort of glory and pyrotechnics that only a major stadium can provide – and nothing beats the sound of singing along at the top of your lungs alongside 73,200 of your closest friends. Just imagine those acoustics.


See the heavy hitters like…

  • Taylor Swift, July 17th
  • JAY-Z and Beyoncé, July 25th


Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls


Cuyahoga Falls is home to Northeast Ohio’s major outdoor music venue, and when major musical acts take to the stage, they often yell in welcome, “Hellooooo, Clevelannnnd!” – despite the fact that the city is actually about 45 minutes away. Distance be damned, Blossom is arguably the area’s best outdoor venue, with a covered pavilion that seats 5,500+ and an expansive lawn that holds 13,000 more. Grab a beer, spread out your picnic blanket on the hill, and catch big-name musicians, festivals, and even the Cleveland Orchestra, which plays a free show (with fireworks!) on July 3rd and 4th, among other shows. Don’t forget to tailgate in the parking lot beforehand!


Catch shows like…

  • Imagine Dragons, June 17th
  • Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, June 23rd
  • Brad Paisley, July 5th
  • Vans Warped Tour, July 18th
  • Lady Antebellum, July 20th
  • Foo Fighters, July 25th


Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, Cleveland (The Flats)


Longtime Clevelanders may still know it simply as Nautica, but though the name has changed, the space remains the same – which is to say, it’s one of the most rockin’ outdoor venues in Northeast Ohio. With bleacher-style seating for more than 5,000 fans, Jacobs Pavilion hosts popular mid-sized musical acts all summer long, with a view of the Cuyahoga River that’s second to none. You might even get lucky when a barge floats down the river mid-show and blows its air-horn at concert-goers. Sometimes the performers stop to wave!


Enjoy favorites like…

  • Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, June 1st
  • Jack White, June 6th
  • Barenaked Ladies, July 15th
  • Coheed and Cambria with Taking Back Sunday, July 29th
  • OAR with Matt Nathanson, Aug. 23rd


Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, Garrettsville

Credit: @Nelson.Ledges Facebook

Credit: @Nelson.Ledges Facebook

If you’re the festival type but can’t make it to California for Coachella or Chicago for Pitchfork, never fear: Northeast Ohio’s outdoor festival venue will rock your world. Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, located about 45 minutes east of downtown Cleveland, hosts half a dozen festivals throughout the summer, mostly featuring cover bands and jam bands. Get that hippie, outdoorsy music vibe without straying far from home at this kid-friendly locale that also offers camping, fishing, swimming, and scuba, to name a few. Pack up for the weekend and enjoy a local staycation to the tune of your new favorite festival.  


Find fests like…

  • Spring Badfish 2018, June 8th
  • Classic Fest 2018, June 15th
  • Slightly Stoopid 218, July 6th
  • Summer Hookah 2018, Aug. 10th


Cain Park, Cleveland Heights

Credit: @Cain.Park Facebook

Credit: @Cain.Park Facebook

Did you know that Cleveland Heights has a professional performing arts venue? Now you do! This summery spot hosts wine tastings, musicals, movies, dance performances, art shows, and, yes, lots and lots of concerts. If you like folk music, ‘90s jams, and eclectic local sounds, get yourself to Cain Park, where its two covered theaters are just part of the venue’s charm: It’s also home to a skate park, a playground, lighted tennis courts, and plenty of people-watching. Take the family and make a day of it.


Fall in love with…

  • The Monkees, June 16th
  • Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, June 21st
  • Rachel Brown and the Beatnik Playboys, July 15th
  • Arlo Guthrie, July 22nd
  • Joan Osborne and Lisa Loeb, Aug. 10th


Porthouse Theater, Cuyahoga Falls

If you prefer your tunes in Broadway form, check out Kent State University’s Porthouse Theater, an outdoor theater set on the grounds of Blossom Music Center. This summer, three musicals will take the stage, with local students performing alongside equity actors and other professionals. The 500-seat covered theater is small enough that every seat in the house is a good one – but it’s still large enough to feel like an authentic and high-level theater experience. Get there early to beat Blossom concert traffic, and pack sandwiches and a bottle of wine to enjoy at the picnic tables before the show.

Sing along to…

  • Anything Goes, June 14th – 20th
  • Next to Normal, July 5th – 21st
  • Oklahoma!, July 26th – Aug. 12th

 Hands Up

If you’re the type who prefers an air-conditioned experience to an outdoorsy one, check out any of Cleveland’s many other local venues, all of which are playing host to great shows this summer. The biggest indoor venue, of course, is Quicken Loans Arena (catch Shania Twain on June 16th), and mid-sized venues include The Agora (see Fleet Foxes on July 23rd) and House of Blues (Old Crow Medicine Show is coming on July 13th). For smaller, lesser-known, and local bands, check out spots like The Grog Shop, Jilly’s Music Room, Music Box Supper Club, Brothers Lounge… the list is never-ending.


This summer, find the show – or shows! – that best suits your musical tastes, and prove to the world that Cleveland does, indeed, rock.


Kaput, bio photo (1)

Kate Kaput is a writer, editor, and social media strategist living in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood with her husband, Mike, and their two cats. She writes the popular lifestyle blog GreatestEscapist.com, and her professional work has appeared in publications such as Cleveland Magazine, The Washington Post, Glamour, and others. Follow Kate on Instagram and Twitter.