Where We Live: Jiffy Lube Live – Bristow, VA

Nissan Pavil…Oh wait, Jiffy Lube Live, as it is now called, is an amphitheater in the middle of nowhere in Bristow, VA. It can seat up to 25,000 people and is the largest venue in the metropolitan area. It is considered the Washington, DC, stop for many tours, even though it’s about 35 miles from the district. First of all, you’ll have to look past the terrible name and, as anyone who is from this area will tell you: It will always be Nissan Pavilion.

In DC we can appreciate change, but we also like to keep some things as they are. From those I’ve talked to, there is not one person who likes the name change. It changed in 2010 from Nissan Pavilion to Jiffy Lube Live, due to a new agreement between Live Nation (which owns the venue) and Jiffy Lube Washington Area Co-op Inc. We grew up with Nissan Pavilion as the name, and we would rather it had not changed.

This stage has seen top-tier acts such as Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Green Day, Journey, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, and more since its opening in 1995 with a performance from, of all groups, The Village People.

In this area, when it comes to shows, DC, Virginia, and Maryland all get roped into one.  However, on many tour schedules, it’s just considered Washington DC. It sounds nicer. Most of the venues and clubs in the district cannot hold anywhere near the capacity of Jiffy Lube Live, so there is no real other option for the big acts.

The one serious downfall of this is that Jiffy Lube Live is really out in the middle of nowhere. There is no public transportation to the venue, unlike many of the clubs in the district. There are many people around here who do not even own a car because of all of the public transportation, so this makes it very difficult for them to get to the show. Also, the road to get there is one of the busiest in all of the metropolitan area, so traffic builds. This really does affect the scene a bit. Instead of hopping on the Metrorail train to go catch a band on a Wednesday night, it becomes a production of trying to get to the venue on time and safely.

The first thing you’ll notice at Jiffy is the massive amount of tailgating happening all around you. As with most concert tailgates, you can expect to hear a lot of music from the band you’re going to go see. A sort of unwritten rule, like not wearing the t-shirt of the band you’re seeing, is forgotten and is a minor detail. If you manage to not have your tailgate shut down by the bike cops (even if you are of age) and make it past the drug sniffing dogs, then you are in the venue where a whole other atmosphere presents itself.

If you are really into the band or have heard of bad weather ahead of time, you most likely have purchased yourself some seats. Compared to other amphitheatres around the country, Jiffy Lube is relatively small when it comes to seating. This does make for a more intimate show under the bowl, and the sound and the lighting really come off very well. Two huge jumbo screens on both sides of the stage give everyone a great view of the bands, and if you’re headbanging so hard that you can’t follow whomever is on stage, you can just watch the screens when you come up for air.

Many people just enjoy the atmosphere of being at a live show in the summertime, and with large groups, getting seats is somewhat tedious. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the lawn. The enormous green pasture has seen just about everything on stage and on itself. Be prepared to be somewhat distracted at times by the chaos that is bound to ensue. Combine summer heat, copious amounts of alcohol, and great music, and this can bring out the “is this ok?” out of many people. If you ever find yourself asking that question, the answer is probably “no”; use your imagination on this one.

The debauchery rarely takes away from the show itself, though. Jiffy Lube Live really is a great place to see a band, and that is why it is usually a top stop for many of the big acts in music today. It has a great backdrop, the concessions are about what you would expect, and you can usually find a group of people just looking for a good time and good music. No matter what the venue is called, it’s worth the experience to see a show there.

Good luck trying to get out of the parking lot after the show, though. Advice. Leave early or plan on staying late.

Jiffy Lube Live
7800 Cellar Door Drive
Bristow, VA 20136-1148
(703) 754-6400

To view a complete schedule of upcoming events, click here.


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