I haven't played live outside since highschool punk bands, but I was struck by the power of a recent occurrence.
This (attached) is Chris Bryant (S1gns of L1fe) and I playing live @ Fuzzyland as Ascendant. (I'm hidden behind the giant ornament!) Tom Rothrock puts on an amazing event a couple times a year up on the edge of the Angeles National forest in CA.
It's impossible to gauge the scale of this place from pictures. The stage is up in this massive, multi-level treehouse that's built around a huge ancient tree. All around are small hills and plateaus where people perch in mini-tribes - almost like playing in the round in some kind of natural amphitheater.
There is something completely transcendent about playing in the open-air, under the stars. There's definitely another connection being made. The perfect kind of venue for ambient / downtempo music in my opinion. People laughing, dancing, having a great time, all connected by the music. Indoor / theater-style gigs can be amazing, but I'm not sure they can completely break through the same way.
(You can hear our music here.)