Music News & Reviews

Toyota Amphitheatre brings rock, country to the Sacramento Valley

A stage hand wanders across the stage of what is now the Toyota Amphitheatre near Marysville, on Thursday May 6, 2004.
A stage hand wanders across the stage of what is now the Toyota Amphitheatre near Marysville, on Thursday May 6, 2004. Sacramento Bee file

The Toyota Amphitheatre has undergone many name changes, but it’s remained a valuable entertainment venue due to its size and location. With a capacity of 18,500 and location just 40 miles from Sacramento, it’s a popular venue for music lovers in the Central Valley.

The $25 million venue, designed by Heller Manus Architects, has 8,000 permanent seats and more than 10,000 lawn seats. During construction, crews moved more than 400,000 cubic yards of earth and planted more than 200 trees.

The Toyota Amphitheatre is one of the handful of venues owned and operated by Live Nation. It hosts 10 to 15 shows each year, according to Live Nation vice president Aaron Siuda. In 2014, it hosted about 210,000 guests total, according to a story in The Sacramento Bee. The venue also hosts graduations for area high schools.

When it opened, the amphitheater hosted mainly rock acts, including John Mellencamp, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Who and Ted Nugent, according to ConcertArchives.org. In more recent years, the venue has veered toward country acts, including Sam Hunt and Brad Paisley this year.

Five things to know

The great outdoors – One of the major draws is the outdoors, general manager Jason Moutry said. “It’s taking that entertainment experience … outdoors, which gives it a different vibe when people come to shows,” he said. “When people hear the music in the outdoor air, they can see the stars and the moon. For a lot of fans, it’s a different feeling. This is especially true for country music, a lot of which describes being in nature and the outdoors. I think you get a lot of that experience those songs speak about.

Come prepared – Because the amphitheater is an outdoor setting, guests are advised to bring sunscreen and water. It can be hot and guests may have to sit under the sun for several hours.

Where are the fountains? – The large metal towers at the entrance of the amphitheater are fountains, which were turned off to save water during the drought, Siuda said. They are only turned on during exceptionally hot days.

Wide range of food – Music fans have a wide variety of food from which to choose. The Sierra Café and Butte Café sell cheeseburgers, pizza and garlic fries, but also have vegan options, such as a black bean burger. The Butte View Barbecue serves marinated chicken sandwiches and a smoked stacked tri-tip.

What’s in a name? – The venue opened as the Sacramento Valley Amphitheatre before being renamed as the AutoWest Amphitheatre. Its naming rights were soon bought by mattress retailer Sleep Train. Live Nation and the Northern California Toyota Dealers’ Advertising Association struck a deal in 2015 to rename the venue.

Toyota Amphitheatre at a glance

THREE CAN’T-MISS EVENTS

  • Nickelback, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 6 p.m.: The Canadian rock band continues its “Feed the Machine Tour,” celebrating its ninth album.
  • Jason Aldean, Friday, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m.: The country singer, 40, has had nine singles reach No. 1 on either the Hot Country Songs or Country Airplay charts.
  • Luke Bryan, Friday, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.: The show is part of Bryan’s Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Every Day Tour. The Academy of Country Music Awards’ and Country Music Association Awards’ “Entertainer of the Year” has sold more than 7 million albums and 27 million singles worldwide.
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