Welcome back to Stanford’s Frost Amphitheater

The iconic amphitheater reopens after extensive renovations and upgrades that make it one of the premiere music venues in the Bay Area and a place for university pomp and circumstance.

On May 18, Frost Amphitheater officially launched in a big way with Stanford Concert Network’s eighth annual Frost Music and Arts Festival featuring solo R&B co-headliners Kali Uchis and Jorja Smith with opener DJ Mia Carucci.

Go to the web site to view the video.

Video by Kurt Hickman

The newly renovated Frost Amphitheater is featuring a diverse lineup of concerts and events for a new generation inspired by the history of Frost and its legendary artists.

The rain on Saturday did not stop patrons from enjoying over four hours of music that began with two Stanford Battle of the Bands winners, Mammoth and VII. As the rain came down, Stanford Concert Network (SCN) and Stanford Live staff handed out free ponchos and the show went on without missing a beat. When things got chilly near the end of the night, Smith popped on a Stanford sweatshirt before returning to the stage with Uchi for a duo encore.

Dante Zakhidov, Stanford doctoral candidate in materials science and engineering, was a member of SCN when Frost Fest was last staged in the amphitheater before it closed for renovations in 2016, and he also worked on this latest festival. He can attest that the renovations improved every aspect of the venue while keeping the original ambiance of Frost Amphitheater intact. “Compared to the single concrete slab that was the former Frost, the addition of a fully riggable stage, tour-ready green rooms and the 18-wheeler loading bay really streamlined the logistics of the production this year,” Zakhidov said. “Furthermore, from the audience perspective, the installation of additional bathroom capacity, the new walk-through tunnel, water-refill stations and ADA-compliant pathways made the show a much more comfortable experience.”

opening concert at renovated Frost Amphitheater May 18

The unseasonable weather didn’t discourage attendance at the Frost Music and Arts Festival marking the official opening of the newly renovated Frost Amphitheater. (Image credit: Harrison Truong)

Frost Amphitheater, located at 351 Lasuen Street in the university’s arts district, seats up to 8,000 guests and is one of the largest outdoor venues on campus. The extensive renovation project included the addition of a state-of-the-art stage and other front- and back-of-house amenities that improve conditions for performers and audience members. One of those audience-pleasing amenities is “The Grove,” a verdant, park-like food area on the Frost grounds. Food selections in The Grove for Frost Fest included small plates with meat and vegetarian options, bowls and salads made with fresh, local ingredients. In the future, a full bar with craft cocktails, local beers, ciders and wines will be open for most performances.

Frost Fest kicked off Stanford Live’s first season of events with its partners Goldenvoice and San Francisco Symphony. The lineup for 2019-20 will include rock, pop, classical music and more.

More than a concert venue

Since receiving its certificate of occupancy in April, Frost has been quietly hosting smaller Stanford Live and university events. Some of the first people to experience the renovations and amenities were the lucky ticket holders to Stanford Live’s “At the Illusionist’s Table,” an intimate sold-out dinner party series with magic, whiskey and wine that took place in Frost’s Green Room for two weeks beginning on April 23. Prospective freshmen were invited to Frost for a picnic lunch on April 26 during Admit Weekend, and the entire campus community was invited to Frost for the annual Multicultural Springfest on May 23 to celebrate the diversity and dedication of the university staff.

According to Elaine Enos, executive director of the Office of Special Events & Protocol (OSEP), Frost will be utilized during some of the university’s “Big 5” events such as New Student Orientation, Admit Weekend and Reunion Homecoming and particularly during Commencement Weekend for major ceremonies that have outgrown smaller spaces.

This year the Department of Computer Science will hold its diploma ceremony in Frost following Commencement in the stadium on June 16. Other groups are looking into using Frost during Commencement Weekend beginning in 2020.

“The capacity of Frost makes it very appealing for events that attract a large number of people,” said Enos. “OSEP looks forward to being able to utilize the space for major university gatherings that could include well-known visiting dignitaries, high-profile guest speakers and other special one-off events in partnership with university schools and departments.”

Summer at Frost

The list of Stanford Live’s co-presented concerts with Goldenvoice in Frost has been growing since the partnership was announced in February. Summer shows include French multi-instrumentalist and singer Vincent Fenton, aka French Kiwi Juice or FKJ (Aug. 6); Joe Russo’s Almost Dead playing mostly Grateful Dead jams (Aug. 17); multi-award-winning pop singer and songwriter Lionel Richie (Aug. 24); and American rock band The National (Sept. 1). Purchase tickets on the Stanford Live website.

The concerts co-presented with the San Francisco Symphony include Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas leading the orchestra in an all-Tchaikovsky program featuring Symphony No. 4 and Violin Concerto, performed by American violinist Gil Shaham (July 10); and New Zealand-born conductor Gemma New leading the orchestra in a program featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (two performances, July 13 and 14).

“After years of careful planning, it was wonderful to see Frost spring to life through the energy of so many live music fans on Saturday night” said Chris Lorway, executive director of Stanford Live. “The venue has already shown how it can be utilized for a broad range of creative and community activities. As we continue to announce new shows, we’re excited to see Frost return to its legendary status as the best space for outdoor music in the Bay Area.”