Best Outdoor Venue

Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheater

Casino shows were once synonymous with crappy would-be Vegas acts whose only charm was their ironic cachet. But that was before the proliferation of casinos outside of Vegas. (Does Atlantic City still count?) It took a few years for the rez casinos to realize the added value of building venues legit enough to lure decent musical acts (if you build it, they will come), but once the lightbulb flicked on, they did it right. The Anselmo Valencia Amphitheater at Casino del Sol is the paragon of such a fully realized endeavor: At a capacity of about 4,500, it's intimate enough that you can leave the binoculars at home, even if you only sprung for a lawn ticket; but it's also just large enough to lure some big-time acts that might otherwise skip town. You, the readers, bestowed the same laurel to AVA in this category last year, and in the interim, the amphitheater has hosted everyone from James Taylor to A Perfect Circle, the Gipsy Kings to the Psychedelic Furs. A great venue only adds to the concertgoing experience, and when it comes to AVA, in the words of a carny we once shacked up with for a couple weeks, We have a winnah!

Runners up:

2. DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center, Reid Park, 22nd Street and Country Club Road. 791-4873

3. TIE