People packed Corpening Plaza to the brim last weekend as they waited to see the scheduled artist perform as part of Winston-Salem’s downtown music series. As I set up my folding seat and took my place in the colorful assortment of camping chairs, the emcee announced that the show would be beginning shortly.

I don’t go to concerts very often and I didn’t know the night’s band ahead of time, but as soon as they started playing, the smooth jazz of Vincent Crenshaw and his band Groveology put me at ease.

I’ve been to a bunch of concerts this summer, braving the heat and sometimes the rain, but the atmosphere is what makes outdoor concerts fun. It doesn’t matter so much who is playing — there will always be that couple or that one guy up front, dead center and putting on a show for the band by dancing their hearts out. Their arms swing about as they dance off the beat. That carefree attitude is infectious.

The food is another perk of outdoor shows. Each concert has its own assortment of food trucks to go along with the music, and it’s always better and cheaper than it would be at an indoor venue. I often start off with a traditional hot dog from my favorite truck, Boone Doggies, and may pick up a taco or two from Taqueria Luciano, too.

I also love outdoor concerts because of the sense of community. There’s nothing like a cool night under stars listening to music without the dilemma of assigned seating and ticket prices; just pull up a chair and relax.

This summer I spent most of my Fridays and Saturdays outdoors at various concerts, and I have to say that it was all well worth it.

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