I remember the first big summer concert I went to was the H.O R.D.E. Festival in Old Orchard Beach, Maine in August of 2006. We went after soccer practice. The lineup was Blues Traveler, Rusted Root, Lenny Kravitz, Son Volt and more. The show was at an unused minor league baseball team’s stadium and the main stage was in center field; the side stage along the first base line. The parking lot scene was a madhouse, traffic was terrible leaving and I ended up getting in trouble because I got home so late.
It was a damn good time.
The summer concert is always a damn good time. It’s one of the few things I’ve learned on my own in my life- summer concerts are awesome, mental health days are a necessity and four beers are currently enough to give me a hangover the next morning.
The precursor to the summer concert season is the research that comes with it. You need to see what’s out there, when it’s happening, who’d be down to roll with you and unless you know someone who knows someone, find out how you’re going to afford it. The downside of summer concerts are the price. It can get expensive quicker than owning a boat or constantly gambling on the Eagles. I don’t know if you’ve heard- but the economy is still in the tank (depending on who you talk too.) So this summer, you need to spend your money wisely.
In putting together the Philly Big Time Summer Concert Preview, I wanted to take price into consideration. Each show previewed will be accompanied one of the following labels:
Tax Return Money: Tax return money is for special occasions because even though it totally isn’t, itfeels like free money. So you want to use your tax return money for a show that is exceptionally awesome.
Birthday Card Money: You usually know birthday card money is coming, but that doesn’t make it any less helpful. It is money that gets added to your regular budget. You use birthday card money to help get you over the hump. So if it’s for a show, it’s a show you want to go to, but just can’t afford to, until you get that birthday money. Then it’s all systems go.
Finding Money in Your Pocket Money: Totally unexpected! You find a twenty in a pair of jeans, you have to spend on something good…like maybe that show you had written off because the money or interest wasn’t quite there. Well boom, you get some free money and giddy up, you’re going.
No Brainer Money: This is for a show that you’re going to without a question. Tickets go on sale, boom you buy it.
The Hook Up Money: Yeah, you want to go to a particular show, but you really just don’t want to have to pay for it. Do you know someone who might know someone who could talk to someone? It’s always worth a shot, especially if it works out.
Here’s some big summer concerts coming up this summer that would be worth checking out:
The Roots Picnic
When: June 2-3
Where: Festival Pier in Philly
Who: The Roots, Kid Cudi, De La Soul (backed by the Roots,) Tune-yards, Wale, Major Lazer, Diplo, Chill Moody and more
Fun Fact: This is the first year the picnic is spread out over two days. Up until this year, the picnic had been a jam-packed afternoon into evening that was a marathon to get through. Now it’s broken up a bit and I bet that will be helpful. No word on what each day’s lineup will be, but you’d have to think the Roots will at least be there both nights. If Twitter has shown us anything, it’s that Questlove doesn’t really take many nights off.
Survival Tip: There are two universal truths about the Roots Picnic. The first is that the music will be awesome. The second is that it will be unbelievably hot. It just will be. It might be sixty degrees on June 1, but it will be at least ninety on both the 2nd and the 3rd. Drink water. Double fist your way through the day and never let water out of your hand. It’ll make both the shows and the day after that much better.
Financially Speaking: No brainer money
WXPN’s Xponential Festival
When: July 20-22
Where: Wiggins Park and the Susquehanna Bank Center in sunny Camden
Who: Wilco, Avett Brothers, Dr. Dog, Counting Crows, the Hold Steady, War on Drugs, Work Drugs, Mike Doughty, City Rain and more.
Fun Fact: Much like the Roots Picnic, the Xponential Festival is stretching out a bit, both in the length of the festival and number of locations. The regular location in Wiggins Park on the mighty Delaware River will be the main venue, where you catch Philly’s War on Drugs and City Rain. But the Wilco, Avett Brothers, Dr. Dog show and the Counting Crows’ show will be next door at Susquehanna Bank Center.
Survival Tip: I mean, it’s Camden- should be pretty straight forward.
Financially Speaking: Birthday Card Money
When: May 18-20
Where: Asbury Park, NJ
Who: Foo Fighters, Skrillex, Incubus, Bon Jovi, Gaslight Anthem, Bouncing Souls, Mac Miller and many more.
Fun Fact: This is the tenth anniversary of Bamboozle, a launching pad for shitloads of up and coming bands. This year’s festival features over 50 bands on the revitalized Asbury Park boardwalk, including bands with wildly inventive names like My Children My Bride, The Dear Hunter and Spacehog. Dude, there was already a band called Spacehog and…oh wait, it’s the same Spacehog. Oh. I guess that’s cool.
Survival Tip: Only so many people in Asbury are going to be cool with you asking them if they know Bruce Springsteen, so think carefully before asking someone if they do.
Financially Speaking: Hook up money
Reggae in the Park
When: June 10th
Where: The Mann Center in Philly
Who: So far it’s officially Jimmy Cliff, Beres Hammond and “more artists to be announced,” but Cliff and Hammond would be enough for me.
Fun Fact: Come on, it’s a reggae festival right at the start of summer. Scientific studies have shown that these kinds of shows can’t be a bad time. And have you been to the Mann Center? It’s beautiful; the perfect venue for spending a summer evening at a concert.
Survival Tip: Despite what your buddy might tell you, it’s not legal to smoke weed openly at a reggae festival.
Financially Speaking: Finding Money in Your Pocket Money
When: June 13th
Where: Susquehanna Bank Center
Who: Radiohead, with openers Caribou.
Fun Fact: I’ve never met a single person who has seen Radiohead live and hasn’t declared it one of the best shows they’ve ever seen.
Survival Tip: Trying to dance like Thom Yorke is an easy way to pull a muscle if you don’t stretch properly.
Financially Speaking: Tax Return Money
My Morning Jacket with Band of Horses
When: August 17th
Where: The Mann Center
Who: My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses
Fun Fact: I saw My Morning Jacket last summer for the first time and I came away from that show convinced I had seen the truth. I saw what big rock ‘n roll was meant to be, what it was meant to sound like and what it was meant to look like. It was an amazing show and a fantastical night. And that doesn’t even factor into account that there was an earthquake that day.
Survival Tip: Got lawn seats? Sweet. Don’t forget a blanket. Oh, and you probably want to plan on not standing at all. It’s just not that kind of scene out there- unless of course you’re cool with people staring daggers at you.
Financially Speaking: It’s a tie between No Brainer Money and Tax Return Money. Either way, I’m going.
Orion Music + More
When: June 23-24
Where: Bader Field in Atlantic City
Who: Metallica, Modest Mouse, Arctic Monkeys, Gaslight Anthem, Best Coast, Titus Andronicus, Gary Clark Jr and more.
Fun Fact: For those of you out there who have never been able to decide which Metallica album you like better- Ride the Lighting or the Black Album, this festival is for you. Metallica will be playing one album one night and the other the next night; both in their entirety. This is awesome news unless you believe Metallica died with Cliff Burton. In that case…well, Modest Mouse is always a good time.
Survival Tip: Avoid eye contact with the guy stumbling around, chugging whiskey and yelling “James Hetfield for President.”
Financially Speaking: Hook Up Money
Here are five shows I'm not going to lie to you about...
1.) I'm not going to lie, I bet Coldplay put on a pretty good show along the same lines that the Avengers is probably a pretty good movie. Both are big, loud and full of bright lights. You can’t really go wrong with that.
- Coldplay plays two shows at the Wells Fargo Center July 5th and 6th.
2.) I'm not going to lie, if you were to give me tickets to 311's annual summer show at Festival Pier, I'd totally go and would totally have an awesome time. 311 shows are like Yuengling- good, reliable and you know exactly what you're going to get.
- 311 play Festival Pier in Philly on July 27th with Slightly Stoopid and SOJA.
3.) I'm not going to lie, there's part of me that wants to see Nicki Minaj live because I think it could be a lot of fun. There is also a part of me that thinks it could be terrible. Mainly there is just a part of me that has a crush on Minaj and another part of me that can’t get her songs out of my head.
- Nicki Minaj plays the Wired 96.5 Fest at Susquehanna Bank Center on July 1st with T-Pain, B.O.B. and more.
4.) I'm not going to lie, I would be more inclined to go down to Delaware and the Firefly festival and check out Jack White if I knew which Jack White was going to be there. On Saturday Night Live and backed by an all-female band, I wasn’t a fan. But then when he was on the Colbert Report and had a totally different band, I loved it. That band rocked. I would go see that band in a second. But you just never know with White and as a result, I probably won’t be going to Firefly even if it’s in Delaware. I’m a sucker for tax free shopping.
- Jack White, along with the Black Keys, the Killers, the Flaming Lips, Death Cab for Cutie, Philly’s Chiddy Bang and more play the first Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware July 20th-22nd.
5.) I'm not going to lie, I’m endlessly curious about Childish Gambino, even though I’ve never listened to one of his songs the whole way through. I’d go see him live, but I’d be worried I’d just be waiting for him to do comedy bits from Community.
- Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) plays the River Stage at Great Plaza in Philly on June 22nd.
Stay tuned for previews of club shows and free shows coming to the area this summer.
And remember, that when it comes to summer concerts, water and comfortable shoes are your best friends.
See you out there.
photos by Liz DeMartino and Ryan O'Connell