By Michael Spiro | Photos by Kathy Strauss
1995. It was a year in music dominated by Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, TLC and an artist largely responsible for country music’s current mainstream popularity—Garth Brooks. Kids were singing “Hakuna Matata,” as parents ponied up for greatest-hits albums by such luminaries as The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen.
It was also a landmark year for music in Prince William. Jiffy Lube Live, then known as Nissan Pavilion, opened its doors with performances by KC and the Sunshine Band and the Village People. Located in Bristow, Va., just west of Manassas and a few dozen miles outside of Washington, D.C., the venue has brought some of the biggest names in music to the area for two decades.
Able to hold up to 25,000 guests, Jiffy Lube has played host to famed artists such as Kanye West, Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, Toby Keith, Jimmy Buffett, Dave Matthews Band and Metallica. Even President Barack Obama has “headlined,” making campaign appearances there in both 2008 and 2012. Owned by California based Live Nation Entertainment, one of the world’s largest concert promoters, the venue is also used for community events, including graduation ceremonies for several area high schools.
“Jiffy Lube Live is the largest outdoor amphitheater in the state of Virginia,” said Matt Rogers, who has been the facility’s general manager since 2010. “We have provided Prince William County with a positive economic impact over the last 20 concert seasons … and 538 amazing live concerts.”
Concertgoers can purchase one of the 10,000 reserved seats in the covered area closest to the stage, or opt for the less expensive general admission lawn seats just beyond. The “cheap seats” are on the grassy hill that slopes above the amphitheater, providing natural tiered seating. There patrons can bring along blankets or lawn chairs (up to 9” high) from which to enjoy the show.
“Great Experiences” Keep Getting Better
Maria Paslick of Montclair said that her company, SAI Engineering, Inc., has purchased season box seats at the venue in the past. She added that while there might not be room in the budget to do that again this year, it won’t stop her from attending concerts on her own.
“One time, we went to see Depeche Mode,” Paslick said. “We didn’t know who they were. But we were invited backstage, and we said to ourselves, ‘Really? Of all the fans here you chose us?’ But we had a great time, and were glad we went.”
Stephanie Antolick, a teacher at Vaughan Elementary School in Woodbridge, also said she has had great experiences at Jiffy Lube Live, and that one of her favorite parts is tailgating before the shows. (While the 2011 ban on tailgating has been lifted, you may want to check out the rules, posted online at thejiffylubelive.com/jiffy-lube-live-tailgaiting/, before setting up camp.)
However, she noted that getting to the parking lot can be a hassle. “The only downfall would be the parking situation. There is only one way in and out [via Wellington Road]which makes it difficult to enter and leave. Traffic will normally back up, which makes getting in and out of the facility very time consuming,” Antolick said.
Paslick agreed that traffic can be a hindrance, but also emphasized how much better the situation has gotten over time. “Years ago, we wouldn’t be able to get out of the parking lot until 3 a.m., it was so bad.” Paslick said. “It has been much improved since it opened.”
Those familiar with the venue may notice another improvement this concert season. “Legends Hospitality will be our new concession company in 2015 and will bring some exciting menu changes,” Rogers said. In a press statement, Legends President & Chief Operations Officer Shervin Mirhashemi said his company had an edge over competitors because of its focus on the fan experience.
Patrons are also able to bring their own food in a one-gallon plastic bag, and one sealed plastic water bottle. However, food is not the first thing on the mind of most patrons. They come to see their favorite stars … under the stars.
Fresh Air, Good Music
“It’s really a fortunate experience to be outdoors, enjoying the fresh air in a park-like setting, with good friends, while listening to some of the best musical artists in the world,” said Bryanna Altman of Lake Ridge. She’s attended more than 25 concerts at Jiffy Lube Live and loves to invite her friends, “particularly from outside Prince William County, to see a concert.”
“I’m so proud to have this wonderful live music destination in our community. At the last concert, we met a couple who drove here from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to see Aerosmith. They spent the weekend in a local hotel, dined at restaurants in Old Town Manassas and were genuinely enthralled with our community,” said Altman.
The 2015 concert season kicks off on May 23 with a performance from Dave Matthews Band, and continues throughout the summer. The venue also offers country music fans a deal that’s hard to turn down: Megaticket, which packages all 10 country music shows coming to Jiffy Lube this year into one discounted ticket. For details, visit megaticket.com.
Before attending a show, take a quick peek at thejiffylubelive.com for more on the tailgating rules, as well as restrictions on what can be brought into the venue and parking guidelines. Of course, you can also order tickets through the website.
There’s not many experiences better than live music, and after a cold, snowy winter, Prince William should be ready to rock and roll into summer at Jiffy Lube Live.
Michael Spiro is a former journalist with the York Daily Record in Pa., who relocated to Woodbridge in 2014. He
now works as a proposal writer in Alexandria, and is enjoying exploring his new community. He can be reached at