When I was in my late teens my mom said to me “Go to as many concerts as you can”. Although her statement was simple the meaning behind it was important to her. Like most parents they want their children to have a better life than they did, experience more, be successful and lead a life they are proud of.
My mom did not go to a lot of concerts in her youth and wanted me to have that experience because seeing a band that you love is life changing. Hell it does not even have to be a band that you love to change your life. I remember in 2000 I went to a Red Hot Chilli Peppers concert with a group of my friends and this band I had heard of but did not know much about co-headlined with them. The band was Stone Temple Pilots. I remember leaving the concert disappointed with the Peppers less than hot performance and mesmerized by STP’s Scott Weiland. I was instantly a fan of STP and most likely never would have become one without seeing that performance. STP of course should (not that they ever would given the chance) thank Mr. Weiland for his ability to captivate and draw in an audience. May you rest in peace you handsome devil.
Living where I do, in the Northwestern part of the United States, we are not really known as a hotbed for concerts. The nearest large cities are Seattle Washington and Portland Oregon, and while they do both have larger populations of people, who can draw in bands, it does not draw them all in. I am talking to you Jon Bon Jovi circa 2001.
We are fortunate however to have The Gorge At George, also known as the Gorge Amphitheater located almost in the middle of Washington State. George is about three hours away from my town and while that may seem far to travel for a concert it beats the six hours to Seattle or the seven hours to Portland. In addition to saving drive time the Gorge is a destination all in it’s own.
I mean look at that…
I will be the first to admit that the middle of Washington State is not much to look at unless you are near the Columbia River. Fortunately the amphitheater sits right along the the river and gives the stage not only a beautiful backdrop but also adds a bit of flare to the acoustics as the music bounces off the rock walls of the gorge.
My first concert at the Gorge was Van Halen in 1995. I won’t lie, I do not remember much as it was 21 years ago at the time that I write this. Which I can not believe I can say I did anything 21 years ago and not be referring to my early childhood days.
Ugh, I’m old.
In 1999 I returned to the Gorge to see Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers. 2001 was a big year for me and concerts at the Gorge as I returned to see Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers again, Godsmack, Deftones, Ozzfest and Dave Matthews. In 2002 I found myself at the Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth “reject tour”, as they had both kicked out of Van Halen at that point and ironically touring together. In 2003 I saw Godsmack again and my last concert was Sam Smith in 2015.
With that last sentence I feel as though I must explain myself. Because if I was not me already, I would question myself.
I will start with Sam Smith, because you are probably wondering how I can go from seeing Godsmack, a heavy metal band, to Sam Smith, a light rock band. I assume that if Godsmack and/or Sam Smith were to read that sentence they would probably also like to know. I had a free ticket to Sam Smith, so I followed my mom’s advice and went to the concert. Although I am not a follower of his music, I still had a good time.
And lastly I will explain the large gap in time between concerts, a 12 year gap in fact. In 2003 Seattle concert goers were tired of driving to the middle of Washington for their concerts and so the White River Amphitheater was built in Auburn Washington. It seemed like a good idea according to the Seattleites, it cut their drive time down to 30 minutes… or so they thought.
One of the best things about the Gorge is that I have never waited long in line to park my car. More often than not you can drive right in and park with no waiting time. At the White River Amphitheater I waited three hours in traffic just to get to the parking lot. It was so bad that Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, who we were seeing, got up on stage and said “what’s with the traffic, it’s f***ing horrible”. Embarrassing.
I have not returned back to the White River Amphitheater since 2004 when I saw No Doubt however The White River has taken a deep cut into the bands who now make it out to the Gorge.
With that being said there are bands you can count on to return to the Gorge, one of which being Dave Matthews. Apparently Dave Matthews is a big fan of the Gorge venue and has returned 15+ years in a row preforming all three days of the Labor Day weekend. The Sasquatch and Watershed Festivals are also annual.
There are a few things to know about The Gorge Amphitheater if you decide to take in a concert. Although the amphitheater is located in George Washington, that’s the town, not the guy, your nearest towns with hotels that can accommodate more than a handful of people will be Ellensburg, heading west, or Moses Lake, heading east. The amphitheater has a capacity of 20,000 people and hotel rooms will go faster than show tickets. You can camp at the amphitheater in their campgrounds ranging from standard camping, premier camping all the way to glamping. Pricing will be steep regardless of which camping style you select. I have only camped there once, at the Sam Smith concert and while that was a less rowdy crowd, it was still loud well into the night. People were slow to rise in the morning and the campground looked like District 12 from the Hunger Games in the morning. I can only imagine what it must have looked like after an Ozzfest concert.
Weather can also be a factor as this is an outside venue. It can be scorching hot in the summer time and freezing cold in the late spring and early fall times. It is best to plan for all kinds of weather. If it rains, is windy or hail is in the forecast and you are not prepared you can always pick up a “reasonably” priced sweatshirt from the concert tee-shirt booth when the weather turns on you.
Speaking of reasonably priced things, alcohol will set you back far. For the Sam Smith concert my two friends and I ordered three 16 oz beers and it was $42 USD. Ouch! Luckily by the time we got around to getting another beer the beer shack had been shut down for the night. Alcohol is not allowed to be brought into the amphitheater and your bags and clothing will be searched upon entry. Although alcohol is allowed in the campground as long as you are of age.
I spilled about $1 of beer here.
The Gorge Amphitheater is located at 754 Silica Road NW in George Washington. Concert shows and tickets can be found through Live Nation.
If you are staying in Moses Lake and looking for some reasonably priced (and I mean that literally) beer I recommend giving 10 Pin Brewing at try. I tried the Solid 8 Pale Ale, a 5.9% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) and a 55 International Bittering Unit (IBU) beer. This beer had a mild hoppiness paired up with some solid citrus flavors from the citra, centennial and simcoe hops used. I also tried the Deadwood IPA , a 7.4% ABV and 70 IBU. This beer had a nice grapefruit flavor to it and was hop forward making it a tasty IPA. The taproom is located inside a bowling alley, hence the name, and has more of a sports bar vibe than your typical brewery tap room with many TVs for sports watching and tables for playing cards. You can also head next door for a few rounds of bowling at the Lake Bowl. 10 Pin Brewing is located at 1165 N Stratform Rd in Moses Lake.