Outdoor shows, free gigs, pricey-but-awesome all-day fests, local bar performances, concerts in theaters—it all sounds good to me. What felt like a ridiculously long winter has, at last, given way to green leaves and temperate weather, and as many of us will insist, that somehow makes seeing musicians play live feel more satisfying. If you’ve been out of the loop, look no further: Ahead are some Tri-State Area events that will, hopefully, help you on your way to getting your warm weather show fix. Happy dancing/moshing/arms-folded-head-bobbing.
Randall’s Island, June 7-9
Can you swing that three-day VIP pass for $470? If so, congratulations; you’ve got plenty to look forward to. Governors Ball, taking place at Randall’s Island in New York City, is a who’s-who that looks to be a schedule without many holes. All we can do is rattle off a few names from the colossal playbill: Day one is June 7, packing the likes of Beach House, Holy Ghost!, Of Monsters And Men, and headliners Kings Of Leon. June 8 will feature Animal Collective, Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Dirty Projectors, Cut Copy, and Guns N’ Roses. And the closing day, June 9, features Kanye West alongside artists such as Grizzly Bear, Foals, Beirut, Deerhunter, and Twin Shadow. Treat yourself—you deserve it.
David Byrne & St. Vincent
Wellmont Theatre, June 12
Chances are that you’ve already heard of this partnership, which has appeared live and gone on to release an LP called Love This Giant in 2012. Some exposition, in case: David Byrne, of Talking Heads fame, combined talents with Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, who then teamed up on some lively, danceable, and deliciously intricate tracks built largely around scatterbrained brass. They’re slated to appear on June 12 at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, playing songs off their jointly made disc while tossing in recognizable tunes from either of their respective discographies. Dig that eight-piece brass section. Tickets start at $45.
Born Ruffians/The Spinto Band/Turf War
Brooklyn Bowl, June 16
Ontario-hailing indie rock outfit Born Ruffians sprinted out of the gates with their 2008 debut, Red, Yellow, & Blue. It combined imaginative chops of guitar, bouncing rhythms, and ornate vocal lines in stark, no-frills production for something that felt natural, unpretentious, and—most importantly—fun as hell. After the lukewarm response to second LP, Say It, the present day finds them cracking a second attempt at filling out that sound and using the studio as an instrument. Birthmarks is the result, and you can catch them at Brooklyn Bowl on June 16 to see how they did. Quirked-up poppers The Spinto Band and garage rock group Turf War will join them, with tickets for $12.
Tiny Giant Summer Bummer
Multiple Venues, June 21-23
Anyone who picked up our annual Unsigned Bands issue may recall reading about a certain festival that aimed to bring a menagerie of local Tiny Giant Collective artists together for a weekend-long blowout. However—Nemo. Negligible in the face of Superstorm Sandy, yet messy enough to destroy travel prospects, the plans went belly-up ‘neath the slush of a February nor’easter. But the Summer Bummer will keep that sweaty, beer-stained dream alive for a weekend of shows across the state: Court Tavern in New Brunswick on June 21, Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park on June 22, and a doubleheader on June 23 that’ll hit Jersey City’s Lamp Post and Maxwell’s in Hoboken. Head online for various lineups and ticket prices.
South Street Seaport, June 29
A Village Voice institution, the 4Knots Festival arrives on June 29 amidst the time-capsule quaintness of the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. It’s a free, all-ages event with Kurt Vile & The Violators taking the point. The effortless Zen of his sophomore album, Wakin On A Pretty Daze, in the outdoor setting should be nothing short of sublime. His set will take it down a notch or two from the noisy, energetic lineup supporting him. To name a few: The Men with Americana-tinged punk, Marnie Stern’s virtuosic, animated guitar pop, feverish post-hardcore from White Lung, and the stoned, anxious riff-rants of Parquet Courts.
She & Him/Camera Obscura
Central Park Summerstage, July 6/8
She & Him, the collaboration of popular alt girl caricature Zooey Deschanel and lover of lo-fi M. Ward, appears to have had a longer shelf life than many of the inevitable haters had predicted. They might have to start chalking it up to the presence of genuine talent: Volume 3, their recently dropped new collection, is shameless with AM nostalgia and persuasively charming. Get a load of ’em amidst the greenery of Central Park Summerstage, where they are slated for concurrent appearances on July 6 and 8. Tickets go for $40. Joining them are Scottish indie pop group Camera Obscura, armed with new material from their forthcoming disc, Desire Lines.
Vans Warped Tour
PNC Bank Arts Center, July 7
As if we had to remind you, nostalgia junkies—the annual Vans Warped Tour will be rolling through the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on July 7. There are plenty of recognizable names backing up marquee groups Motion City Soundtrack and Chiodos, including a healthy amount of reps from our beloved Garden State. Though Warped has always been known for a fairly straightforward musical palette, fans have come to expect a few wild cards in the mix to ensure that there will be plenty of different flavors on tap. This year promises a mix of EDM, dubstep, and hip-hop acts aside the traditional mix of ska, pop punk, metal, and post-hardcore. Tickets for the whole day will run you just $47.50.
Belle & Sebastian/Yo La Tengo
Prospect Park Bandshell, July 11
Feeling vulnerable? Let’s talk about Belle & Sebastian, a band that’s always had, at least for me, the sort of reading-in-your-room, daydreams-before-bed style that was almost too delicate for a drive to work. As years went by, much of their output has revealed itself to be timeless to its appreciators, as has that of the equally-bookish, endlessly-creative Hobokenites Yo La Tengo. Comparable moods and complementary sounds make their tandem appearance on July 11 at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Bandshell stack up as something of an introvert’s dream team. Tickets are going for $42.50.
Bad Books/The Front Bottoms/Wild
Webster Hall, July 12
Bad Books occurs when good friends Andy Hull, singer from Manchester Orchestra, and Kevin Devine, Brooklyn-based folk songwriter, combine efforts and craft peculiar alt pop songs sprinkled with electronics. Their second LP, Bad Books II, landed last October, and it’s stupid-catchy with overcast lyrics landing softly on playful backbeats and sunny earworms. Touring with them for the second time this year are New Jersey folk punk upstarts The Front Bottoms, whose new album, Talon Of The Hawk, sees the chatty, witty lyrics of Brian Sella dressed up in the additional instruments that first found their way to their live sets. Along with warm-up act Wild, they’ll come through Webster Hall in Manhattan on July 12, with advance tickets on sale for $17.
Rockstar Mayhem Festival
Susquehanna Bank Center, July 19
Camden, NJ—a city not unfamiliar with mayhem—will see Rockstar Mayhem Festival roll through its Susquehanna Bank Center on July 19, although, given the lineup, the thought of energy drinks being widely available seems like a bit of a gamble. Gracing the main stage: Part-time director Rob Zombie (busy this year, with a new album and a film out simultaneously), the sludgy prog of Mastodon, melodic death guys Amon Amarth, and groove metal outfit Five Finger Death Punch. Just as well, the side stages are not to be ignored, with sets by heavy hitters such as Behemoth, Machine Head, and Children Of Bodom. Admission starts at $54.75.
Maxwell’s, July 19
Bosnian Rainbows are the group that Mars Volta fans will recognize as the unholy homewrecker which destroyed a sacred afro-union. Condolences to the bereaved, but it’s quickly become time to move on—guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s new squeeze will swing through Maxwell’s in Hoboken on July 19 to make their formal introduction. He’s joined by some other perhaps familiar faces, including singer Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes. The first two tracks released indicate a curious blend of skewed, sugary prog pop with shifting structures and fun beats, but given the personnel, anything is possible. Tickets are up for $15.
Foxygen/Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
Pier 84, July 25
Free shows—that’s how we like it. For this one, on July 25, Pier 84 in Manhattan’s Hudson River Park will host rock ‘n’ roll throwbacksters Foxygen, who have toured never-endingly since the release of their second LP, We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic. Their twisting compositions swing from ballistically groovy to hazy hangover, and amidst the din of a warm night in the city, they should be a trip. They’ll be supported by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, who’ll bring lively, banjo-laden folk pop into the mix to round out a night that should keep feet moving.
Americanarama Festival Of Music
Pier A, July 26
Bob Dylan and his band will heat things up at the Americanarama Festival Of Music, going down at Hoboken’s Pier A on July 26. It’s kinda funny to note that, in spite of the rustic implications of this fest’s title, Dylan infamously rejected his folksy beginnings, and marquee support-acts Wilco and My Morning Jacket are, more or less, rock bands with closetfuls of zip-up costumes, many of them borne of folk or country fetishes. Not that anyone’s complaining—let no semantics mar such a rarely consummate roster of musicians for an instant. L.A.-hailing singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham will kick the show off, tickets for which are going for $75.50.
PNC Bank Arts Center, Aug. 4
How many more chances will you get to see Ozzy Osbourne sing Black Sabbath tunes? Answer: Probably a lot—the man’s a mummy. An occasion is at hand, nevertheless, as the esteemed proto-metallers, sprightly as ever, will swing through PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ on Aug. 4, rounded out by Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Brad Wilk. They figure to have new material mingling with indomitable favorites—new album 13, produced by Rick Rubin and the first they’ve made with each other since Never Say Die, is slated to land June 13 (nice!). Get yourself a ticket starting at $45, and while you’re at it, hit up YouTube to hear the album’s nine-minute first single, “God Is Dead?”
Pier 84, Aug. 8
Titus Andronicus and Ducktails will combine for some disparate vibes on Aug. 8 at Pier 84 in Manhattan, but even if they contrast musically, both bands make awesome summer songs that are heavily steeped in New Jersey humidity. Titus’ latest offering, Local Business, saw their take on punk get a bit more hi-fi, with Patrick Stickles’ sneering nihilism still going down effortlessly alongside the band’s upbeat, major-key stampede. Ducktails released a beautifully textured and soulful LP called Flower Lane this past January, suggesting that Real Estate guitarist Matthew Mondanile’s alternate gig is more than mere solo diversion. And then there’s the whole free-admission thing—good stuff.