If mainstream pop of the top 40 variety is your bag, then this summer’s roster of concerts probably seems pretty amazing to you. After all, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga are all coming to town. Over in the mainstream country niche, Darien Lake is presenting several multi-act tickets across the summer, and on Friday, Coca Cola Field welcomes the annual WYRK Taste of Country festival.
These are big shows, certainly. But they don’t tell the whole story.
For those whose taste runs to a more eclectic area of the modern musical landscape, Timberlake, Mars and Gaga might not mean anything at all. And the strongest authentic country music bill of the summer – Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss and Kacey Musgraves – already happened.
For these folks, much of the real summer concert action will be taking place in the clubs, where a broad spectrum of acts ranging from indie-rock to hard rock to metal to alt-country, will fill the docket. Many of these shows will only cost the discriminating music-junkie a fraction of what a Timberlake ticket is going for – $177 for the best seats for Timberlake’s July 9 Buffalo show. By comparison, you can catch a legendary alternative rock band like Swans in the Tralf Music Hall for less than $20 a ticket, or an indie-rock double bill with Band of Horses and Midlake at the Town Ballroom for $32.
There’s also the benefit of gaining an intimate experience with the artist at a club, as opposed to the often intimidating prospect of catching a major pop star in the midst of some 15,000 to 20,000 screaming fans. The sound in these smaller, more controlled venues is always better than it is at an arena, too.
It’s telling that, as I was compiling my Top 10 list of must-see club shows for the summer, I realized that a list of 40 would have been more appropriate.
There are several club shows worth seeing every week between now and mid-September. We might rightly feel that we remain a secondary concert market if we compare ourselves to Toronto, but when it comes to rising stars and cult-level icons, man, we’re stacked.
Here’s my pick for the best of the bunch.
1) Ozric Tentacles
June 21, Tralf Music Hall
Long before the full emergence of rave culture and the EDM movement, England’s Ozric Tentacles crafted a danceable blend of space rock, jam-band and fusion stylings, held together by a beautifully gooey psychedelia. This is one of the coolest shows coming to Buffalo on any stage this summer.
2) Jamestown Revival
June 20, Sportsmen’s Tavern
Indie-rock meets Southern soul and Americana. Likely to sell out quickly, so don’t wait.
3) The Foxy Shazam
June 25, Town Ballroom
A wonderfully over-the-top marriage of soul, glam, indie and R&B. If you haven’t seen this band live, you should rectify that situation.
4) The Winery Dogs
July 26, Tralf Music Hall
Time to welcome Buffalo’s Billy Sheehan back to town with the finest rock band he’s worked with since Talas.
5) Time Giant
Aug. 1, Buffalo Iron Works
The stoner-rock must-see show of the summer.
6) Band of Horses, Midlake
July 22, Town Ballroom
My favorite double bill in clubland this season. Both bands are great live, but my money’s on Midlake, by a nose.
7) The New Mastersounds
Sept. 3, Tralf Music Hall
This British quartet is so funky you have to wonder if its members are indeed British, and not from, say, New Orleans or something. Grant Green crossed with a Phish funk jam, circa 1997. Not to be missed.
8) Rich Robinson
Aug. 27, Waiting Room
Black Crowes guitarist Robinson with a new band and a new album to support. Robinson employs the loudest stage volume of any guitarist I’ve ever encountered, so hearing protection might be in order.
July 5, Tralf Music Hall
Speaking of incredibly loud volumes, this legendary band returns with an epic two-disc set of new material in tow.
July 22, Waiting Room
This band started out at least tangentially related to the Emo movement, but new album “Flies In All Directions” reveals a new maturity.