Wolf Trap is the best outdoor venue concert venue in the DMV area. I have been lucky enough to have experienced concerts here since the age of three when my parents took me to see the Indigo Girls.

There is an extensive list of why Wolf Trap is amazing but here are just a select few reasons:

Wolf Trap is the only national park for the performing arts (the shows run on volunteers so you always have a friendly and helpful experience)

You can bring YOUR OWN FOOD AND DRINK. Bring the coolers and forget about how other venues charge you exuberant amounts of money for less than stellar food/alcohol.

Parking is free and on site

You’re surrounded by nature and it gives off the most relaxing vibe

Liz Phair

Solid indie/alternative rock. Electric songs With accompaniment from another guitar player/backup singer paved the way to awesome sound. Phair’s heartbroken/hopeless romantic anthems filled the air and hearts of many as if it were still the 90s. “Beautiful night ... beautiful place ... beautiful people.” Phair said of the Wolf Trap performance. Favorite song: “Fand Run”

Melissa Etheridge

Bluesy tunes with Etheridge’s signature husky voice and followed by solid rocking by a band that’s loud and tight. What’s most amazing is the seamless adaptability as the show contains folk, blues and country all with a heavy flair.

The set started with a fierce rendition of “Your Little Secret”, the title track from her 1995 album of the same name. The wolf trap veteran proclaimed, “What a great night of music. I believe in rock and roll!” She also reflected on the fans that have followed her for years for letting her music into their hearts.

Etheridge delivered a heartfelt and slightly raunchy rant before diving into “I Want To Come Over” — “I was in love all the time. I was in love at the same time. This was my early 20s and 30s. Some of you may be that age and I say go for love and let it burn you up ... Of course I know it’s love, it’s the best two weeks I ever had.”

All the songs presented themselves as embodiments of the human experience.

Etheridge’s dialogue was engaging and kept the crowd tuned in. Before “Human Chain” she explained the song’s inspiration: “I have to look for good news these days and I found a story about a man drowning. He was saved by a crowd of people who had formed a human chain to save him.” The funky and soulful number had the crowd swaying and its hopeful message was clear.

The powerful ballad “Come to My Window” was delivered beautifully and was my personal favorite.

Etheridge praised the ASL interpreter on the side of the stage, saying, “I always love to watch sign language interpreters — they show me how my songs look. I especially love singing words like desire.” The interpreter was dancing and incredibly fun to watch the entire set.

Ending on her signature 1993 hit “I’m the Only One,” Etheridge brought her incredible guitar skills (especially soloing) to the edge of the stage. The powerhouse and gay activist/icon had the crowd howling before coming back for an encore of “Like the Way I Do” where she joined in on an extravagant drum solo.

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar’s 40th music anniversary was celebrated through an astonishing Wolf Trap performance filled with hits. Another notable milestone for Benatar this year is her 38th wedding anniversary with her husband and musical partner in crime, Neil Giraldo.

Benatar spoke on her past by saying, “We were musicians writing songs together and somewhere along the line we fell in love with each other.”

The night started off with “All Fired Up”, the 1988 song that became Benatar’s last charting single. It was an interesting way to begin. The band then delivered concise and upbeat rock as they blasted through the first section of hits without stopping, including “We Live For Love,” “Invincible” and “Promises in the Dark”

The band then exited the stage as Giraldo and Bernatar did a few songs acoustically. They started out with the mega love anthem “We Belong.” An interesting tidbit about this song is that the original songwriters (Lowen and Navarro) actually played a show right in the restaurant I work at in 1998.

“Treat Me Right” was a delightful surprise in the acoustic portion of the show. Benatar explained, “Fans have been asking for this song for ten years or so ... We’re going to play it tonight.” The song had a swing feel to it and the soulful vocal dazzled the audience.

A fun moment was when a butterfly made its way to the stage and greeted Neil Girlado, almost taking him by complete surprise as it got extremely close to his guitar. You never know what to expect with Wolf Trap’s amazing in-the-woods scenery. I’ve witnessed deer to the sides of gates at past shows.

When the band returned to the stage Benatar dedicated the emotionally ravaging “Hell Is for Children” to the kids at the Mexican border. “This is not how we treat human beings” Benatar declared.

A throwback moment occurred when The Rascals’ “You Better Run” was played. Benatar’s cover version was the second video to be aired on MTV and she noted that Neil Giraldo was the first guitar player to be on the channel.

The set ended on the two smash hits that each warranted a singalong — “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Love is a Battlefield”

Benatar and Giraldo came back for the encore where Benatar revealed the two had been working on a musical for the past four years. They performed a song with Giraldo on piano and Benatar on vocals entitled “After the Fall”.

The night ended on the energized and hard-hitting “Heartbreaker.” The crowd sang along one last time.

Forty years on Benatar and Geraldo still maintain their lasting music legacy and perform at the top of their game.

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