1. Portugal. The Man June 12, Town Ballroom (681 Main St.)
The Portland, Ore., band will release its new album, “Evil Friends,” one week prior to its return engagement at the Town Ballroom. It’s a stunning, beautifully experimental pastiche of alternative rock and psychedelia, tracked in Los Angeles under producer Danger Mouse. The music sounds like the audio love child of Animal Collective and Jane’s Addiction on a sunny day. Hearing this music performed live and loud in the Town Ballroom will surely be one of the summer’s club-land highlights.
2.Grizzly Bear Aug. 1, the Rapids Theatre (1711 Main St., Niagara Falls)
I’d heard rumors about Grizzly Bear headlining a bill as part of the Thursday at Canalside series, but as it turns out, this wonderful indie-rock band from Brooklyn will be inhabiting the lovely Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls. It’s another big score for the region, as Grizzly Bear is one of the few critical darlings that actually deserves to be one. The group has played headlining gigs at Radio City Music Hall, but remains a cult consideration away from New York City. That’s to our benefit. Even if you think you don’t care for indie-rock – and even if you don’t have a beard or dress in ironic ’70s nerd garb – you need to see this band.
3. Swans July 26, Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.)
Another uber-hip club booking. Swans, founded and led by New York “No Wave” pioneer Michael Gira, is not the kind of band you expect to see popping up in Buffalo. Toronto, yes. But not here. Happily, someone had the foresight to book the band, perhaps knowing that there is enough of a tuned-in alternative music cognoscenti here to fill the Tralf. Gira – a confrontational artist, to put it mildly – has likened a Swans concert to a Native American sweat lodge ritual. (Which should scare away any tourist types.) If that doesn’t do the trick, the fact that the band performs at mind-numbing volume in an attempt to disorient listeners should finish the job. Fans know there is something at once menacing and beautiful about the Swans sound. This should be a rare treat. Bring earplugs. I’m not trying to be funny. Bring earplugs.
4. Marcus Miller June 7, the Bear’s Den, Seneca Niagara Casino, Niagara Falls
One of the funkiest electric bassists in the game, Miller is also a first-rate composer and record maker. He and his band were built for venues like the Bear’s Den, an intimate place where musician and audience members can look each other dead in the eye, and the sound is almost always perfectly mixed.
5.Bloc Party June 2, Rapids Theatre
Never thought we’d be seeing this hyper-driven, groove-oriented British indie-rock quartet in Western New York. Again, this is the type of show that normally hits New York City and Toronto, but not here. Get ready to pogo.
6.Floodwood June 14, Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.)
This moe. side project has celebrated its rootsy, jammy take on bluegrass at Duke’s in the past, and the results have been heartwarming. The intimate Allentown venue offers the perfect setting for a taste of Appalachia by way of Woodstock.
7.Ours June 15, Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.)
Ours mastermind and vocalist Jimmy Gnecco has a multi-octave vocal range and a flair for dramatic songwriting to match it. Why his band has never broken out of the underground is one of the great rock music mysteries of the past 15 years. Regardless, the band is releasing its fourth album, “Ballet the Boxer,” in early June, and this Nietzsche’s date will find the band debuting that album’s material in the environment where it is at its very best – the dimly lit concert club.
8.Ian McLagan June 25, Sportsmen’s Tavern (326 Amherst St.)
McLagan played organ and piano in the Faces. That’s him all over “Debris,” “Had Me A Real Good Time,” “Sailing,” “Sweet Lady Mary,” you name it. McLagan and his band will be playing the Sportsmen’s Tavern. What more could you possibly need to know?
9.Calexico June 9, Asbury Hall at Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.)
This Americana/indie-rock hybrid produces a sound that is tailor-made for a venue like Ani DiFranco’s church. Dynamic, intimate, alternately hushed and rousing, led by the songwriting acumen of Joey Burns and John Convertino, the band’s interpretation of dusty Southwestern roots music will be right at home within the mildly Gothic confines of Babeville.