Venue Review – Chrysalis – An Intimate Look At the Chrysalis At Symphony Woods at Merriweather Post Pavillion – Columbia, MD

Chrysalis at Symphony Woods

This new venue, rightfully named Chrysalis, will have a profound impact to the outdoor concert experience to the Washington, D.C. / Baltimore region. There has only been one other pavilion sized venue open in this region in the past forty years and it holds 25,000+ in Bristow, Virginia.

Merriweather Post Celebrates it's 50th anniversary

In 1967, Merrieweather Post Pavillion opened it's doors in Columbia, Maryland. In the fifty years since it has opened it has been the centerpiece of outdoor pavilion music for the Washington, D.C. / Baltimore Metropolitan area and has played host to both historic bands and historic concerts. It has played host to musical legends and giants including The Doors, The Allman Brothers, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Grateful Dead,  It has also hosted countless music festivals and tributes including 25 years of the annual Capital Jazz Fest, The Merryland Music Festival, and Dear Jerry: Celebrating the Music of Jerry Garcia.

Fresh off a multi-million dollar facelift to celebrate it's 50th Anniversary, the Merriweather Post Pavillion created the Chrysalis at Symphony Woods. This new organic structure is nestled intimately into in the the picturesque landscape of the Merriweather Post Campus.  As you walk the perimeter of the venue you will notice towering neon green organic shapes peeking out from the lush forest foliage of Symphony Woods.  In fact, four thousand aluminum green tiles adorn this  structure structure reminding us of a green chameleon that tries to subtly blend into it's natural environment.  One cannot help but walk around the perimeter of this structure to take in the organic shapes and patterns as well as the way light reflects off the Chrysalis and it continues to reblend itself into the woods with each footstep.

While walking to the venue you cannot help but notice the Chrysalis peeking through the woods.

While walking to the venue you cannot help but notice the Chrysalis peeking through the woods.

Whereas the Merriweather Post Pavillion has been designed to host audiences of nearly 20,000 people, the Chrysalis is a fraction of the size of it's sister venue and is located only a few hundred feet from the street. This band shell has a very modest footprint of only 5,000 square feet is approximately 110 feet wide and rises 52 feet into the air.  The  designers of this structure intended  it to act as a stage, a pavilion and a sculpture all in one. This new venue is meant to be enjoyed by everyone during the weekday and non-event days.  People can sit on the plush lawn in front of the bandshell and take in the weather and sounds of nature.  

During larger festival events, such as the annual Capital Jazz Festival, the Chrysalis acts as an auxiliary viewing area where people feel free to picnic far away from the crowds of the main stages and can watch the event from a projected movie screen lowered from inside the bandshell.

We expect the pavilion to play host to only be a few thousand people.  Because the venue lies in an open field ad surrounded by woods, the capacity is limited, in part, to how and where the venue organizers place security fencing.  

As day turns into night we expect the lightshow inside the bandshell will light up the area with the glow of an intimate and sparkling campfire  set in the woods.

Look for this venue to take center stage on July 22, when Greensky Bluegrass will christen the venue with it's first major national touring music will take the stage.  Based on this beautiful venue and it's location, many Greensky Bluegrass fans believe "Through the Trees" is sure to feature on their setlist for their performance.  Just like the Merriweather Post Pavillion, we expect a long and eventful history underneath this bandshell.

How To Get To The Venue Complex:

From North of The Venue:

Head south on I-95 South.  Take exit 38B to  to MD-32 West towards Columbia.  From there look for Merriweather exits

From the South of the Venue

Monday-Friday:  If you are coming to the venue on a weekday, we encourage you to avoid rush hour traffic along the I-95 corridor.  Instead, take the Washington DC Beltway (I-495) and use exit 30A, taking US-29 approximately 25 miles north.  Taking exit 18B to Broken Land Parkway.

Saturday - Sunday: Head north on I-95. Take exit 38B to to MD-32 West towards Columbia. From there look for Merriweather exits

What's New

The first thing that you will notice about the venue is the parking.  Up until this year, parking was on a first come first serve basis and consisted of several very large fields around the venue.  This is no more.  When you purchase a ticket you must also select a parking lot in which to park.  When you get to the venue you will immediately notice signs for your assigned parking area.

Please refer to the following Map of the Merriweather 2017 Parking Map below.

How To Get to the Chrysalis

The Chrysalis lies to the south of the  Merriweather Post Pavillion, on Little Patuxent Highway and South Entrance Road.  For those of you already familiar with the venue, as you look at the venue from the Mall across the street, head to your left.   From the rear of the Merriweather Post Pavillion, you will see a small path that leads to the Chrysalis.

From the rear of the Merriweather Post Pavillion, take the small path through the woods to get to the Chrysalis.

Recommendations:

Food, Snacks & Non-Alcoholic Drinks:

Whole Foods

10275 Little Patuxent Pkwy

Columbia, MD 21044

Only a minute away by car or a few minutes by foot is a relatively new Whole Foods grocery store.  This 50,000 square foot supermarket will have everything you need or forget about for your tailgate or lawn party.  This particular location has a particular emphasis on "to-go" stations intended for the pincers and venue crowd.

For those of us who have been going to Merriweather Post Pavillion for so many years, we may not have noticed this store that opened in 2014.  But now that you know about it, what a lifesaver it will become.

NOTE:  This store is particular about NO EVENT PARKING and enforces it.  Please park at the venue in your designated parking zone however tempting this offset option may seem to be.

Please enjoy our photographic tour of the new Chrysalis Pavillion at Symphony woods.

About the author

Jason Herman

A 24x7 member and Photo Editor of DC Music Review. Jason has been a passionate about music since his earliest days and is especially passionate about the music scene around his adopted hometown, Washington DC. With over 35 Grateful Dead and 70+ Phish Shows under his belt, you can find him at concerts around the country but especially in his adopted hometown of Washington, D.C. Before turning his lens to music, Jason followed professional cyclists around the U.S. Domestic Circuit to the tallest mountains in Europe.