molson_amphitheatre_torontoAs moms we’ve all encountered this — that feeling like we might explode if we don’t get away from our children. At least, I’m assuming that’s the case (please tell me I’m not alone in this). After a particularly stressful few weeks with my crew, I was ready for a night out, so getting invited by a friend to join him at a John Mayer concert was just what I needed to relax and recharge.

For me, summer has always meant attending concerts, and if you live in or are visiting Toronto, the best place to take in a show between May and September is the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre at Ontario Place. It’s located right on Lake Ontario, and the venue is open air, so assuming the weather cooperates, you can listen to your favourite musical acts under the stars. Though the venue seats up to 16,000 people, it doesn’t feel nearly that large. It somehow manages to have the fun atmosphere of a stadium show, but with the ability to provide moments of intimacy between the audience and musicians. If you can swing it, I recommend getting a seat in the covered area, just in case it rains.

Growing up in Toronto, the Amphitheatre (or the Ontario Place Forum as it was called when I was a kid), is a part of my DNA. When I was a teenager, my best friend and I would make the trip into Toronto from the suburbs to see our favorite Canadian bands like Blue Rodeo, The Tragically Hip, and The Northern Pikes. We were too young to buy the overpriced beer, and just at the point where we understood that the smoke getting blown in from the lawn seats was not from regular cigarettes.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed Sting, Tori Amos, Seal, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Neko Case and even James Brown at the Amphitheatre. But I think last night’s John Mayer show might have been my favourite concert experience at this venue. It wasn’t just because of the terrific performance, but because the contrast between my enjoyment of the concert and the struggle of my everyday life was so significant. On this night, I sang my heart out, cheered, laughed, breathed in the cool air rolling in off the lake and didn’t worry about the mundane yet sometimes overwhelming tasks facing me tomorrow. Sometimes a few hours of live music in the open air with a good friend is all you need to feel like your old self again.