The Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters show at Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheatre Sat. night will definitely go down as a highlight of Greater Raleigh's summer of wall-to-wall live music. The experience of witnessing a rock legend at one of the area's most beloved music venues was remarkable. Fans, like myself, of Robert Plant and his projects like The Sensational Space Shifters and Band of Joy took in a phenomenal concert at a phenomenal venue.
A stellar aspect of Koka Booth Amphitheatre is that you can take in some of the beauty of North Carolina's Piedmont region and see a concert all in one night. If you're going to a show at the venue, I highly suggest arriving several hours early. You can get a great parking space (another great thing about the venue is that it offers free parking) and scope out the scenery. The amphitheatre is situated directly next to the beautiful Symphony Lake (the name is highly appropriate as many North Carolina Symphony concerts are held at the venue), which is surrounded by a greenway that you can walk to take in the scenery and N.C. wildlife. Check out the venue's site map to see the lay of the land!
The picturesque scenery is just as beautiful when you walk into the venue. Enter the venue through the main entrance! As seen below, you'll walk down a shaded path engulfed by hardwoods and pines. You realize, even more, that the natural setting, the amphitheatre and the music it features blend together in perfect harmony. I'd also suggest that if you sit in the lawn area, get to the venue early so you'll have a wide selection of seating locations to choose from (you can take your own lawn chairs and blankets)!
The night of music kicked off with Bombino, an internationally acclaimed Tuareg guitarist and singer-songwriter from Agadez, Niger, and his band. The blend of rock, blues and world music set a great mood for the night. A truly talented and awesome musician with a truly talented and awesome band, Bombino impressed concert-goers and rocked Koka Booth Amphitheatre. The band opened with energy and kept up the energy for the entire set. I'd wanted to see Bombino (whose latest album, Nomad, was produced by The Black Key's Dan Auerbach), and it was great to see him at one of my favorite venues. During Bombino's set, I made up my mind about where I wanted to stand in the lawn to take in the concert. Due to the layout of the venue, the sound is just as good from every spot on the lawn. I especially like the back-center view (pictured below) and the pine tree-covered area to the left of the stage (looking at the stage from the lawn area) where Symphony Lake can be easily viewed.
After Bombino's set, while the stage was being set for the headliner, I scoped out the food and beverages available. A good number of craft beers were being served including Raleigh's very own Lonerider Brewing Company's Sweet Josie Brown Ale at the venue's Pine Needle Pub. Pine Needle Pub offers an outdoor pub-type setting with stand-up tables, a few bar stands including a "hut" bar and a great social atmosphere. Cocktails and wine and wine by the bottle were also being sold at Koka Booth Amphitheatre. Delicious food served at Cobblestone Courtyard included gourmet sandwiches and wraps, pizza, pretzels, hot dogs and much, much more. Other food vendors included Chick-Fil-A, Z Pizza, Dickey's Barbecue Pit and the Hibachi Xpress food truck. You can also have a "Picnic in the Park!" The venue's Virtual Café offers a variety of food items that can be ordered in advance for all events. If you purchase a table seating ticket, you also have access to the sheltered area and Crescent Cafe (area picture below).
Suddenly, I heard the crowd cheer and I made my way to my choice lawn spot to the left of the stage (facing the stage). Sensational Space Shifters guitarist Liam "Skin" Tyson (of The La's offshoot Cast) began playing a classical-sounding number, Robert Plant's entrance kept myself and the crowd cheering and the guitarist entered into the Led Zeppelin tune "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You." The crowd erupted in more cheers, screams and claps, as concert-goers like myself were in euphoria when we began hearing Robert Plant's famous voice in person. The tone of Robert Plant's golden voice through Koka Booth Amphitheatre's top-notch sound system was perfect. The overall mix of electric Delta blues, Celtic folk revival, world music, a splash of electronic music and other genres pleased concert-goers tremendously, as those who have heard many of Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin's songs heard many of the songs with tasteful, creative, entertaining and innovative twists Sat. night. Being a Led Zeppelin fan since high school, I absolutely loved hearing some of my favorite Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin tunes at a venue I love. The band played other famous Led Zeppelin songs such as "Black Dog," "Misty Mountain Hop" and more, and closed the night with "Whole Lotta Love" and "Rock and Roll."
Another feature of the venue that always impresses me is the light show. I wanted to get another view of Robert Plant and the dramatic light show, so I made my way to the right side of the stage (facing the stage). Due to the amphitheatre's intriguing architecture and the intensity of the lights, the stage itself is a sight to see at night. And the sound system always rocks, as its clear sound and tone is soothing and not harsh by any means, even at a high volume. The volume was great for Music Maniacs like myself who like to crank up the volume, but also great for kids and those who don't like a booming sound system.
I highly suggest to experience a concert at Koka Booth Amphitheatre. The venue brings in a nice variety of genres, as shows coming up include Wild Card Wednesdays Music Series: Tropic Orchestra, Wild Card Wednesdays Music Series: Johnny Folsom Four And The Canady Thomas Band, Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson, Alabama Shakes, Chris Tomlin and more! The venue also shows popular movies! Check out the schedule of events here.
The number of music events at Koka Booth Ampthitheatre along with the number of music events at Greater Raleigh's huge collection of venues make Greater Raleigh the destination with the most live music in N.C.! Learn more about the area's summer of wall-to-wall live music!