Summer Music Coming Soon!

Summer Music Coming Soon!

So the weather looks like it’s finally starting to turn the corner into spring. We have longer days back, the sun is unabashedly shining, it’s warmer out. These harbingers of summer bring with them thoughts of barbecues, beverages, friends, and late nights. It’s everyone’s favorite time of year for a reason, and this year so far has defied all expectations with the initial festival lineups and shows happening nearby. Disclaimer: I haven’t written anything in a while, so there is a lot of pent-up excitement in this post, and it’s a bit longer than usual.

First of all, the Castle in Bloomington has a couple treats for you: tonight will feature Greensky Bluegrass and the Shook Twins for what promises to be a rip-roarin’ hootenanny of hyperspeed bluegrass jams. Tomorrow night at the same venue is the St. Patrick’s Day celebration with EGi, Brainchild, No Robot, and Intrinsic Arts, for an evening of face-melting funky jazz fusion. Definitely worth the trip over to Bloomington; it’s just up the road, after all.

Next month up in Peoria, the Limelight Eventplex is hosting August Burns Red, The Faceless, and Between the Buried and Me on Thursday, April 7th. If you know anything about progressive heavy music, these are some of the “heaviest” hitters in the game (pun intended as hard as it can be – this is metal we’re talking about). In all seriousness though, August Burns Red crushes, the Faceless sizzles and twitches with spastic, frenetic guitar lines and some of the fastest drumming I personally have ever heard, while Between the Buried and Me combine almost every genre of music I can think of into a brain-liquifying stew of spindly lead guitar riffs, beautiful, evocative basslines, incredibly creative drumming, and the most thought-provoking, conceptual lyrics I’ve ever heard from a metal band.

Once May hits, I am supremely stoked to see British classical musician Simos Shepherd hit North America for the first time with his live band! He will be performing under his name Floating Points, to promote his newest album under that moniker, entitled Elaenia, which is one of the most relaxing, melodic, downtempo electronic music I’ve ever heard. It just gets in your brain like sparking crystals and takes the weight off your shoulders. I can’t wait to hear how it sounds with a live band. His stop at the Metro in Chicago is Saturday, May 7th, just a few days before Chicago’s native sons Tortoise play the same venue with their ultra-virtuosic brand of post-rock.

The month of May is also when things start really heating up with festival season. Okeechobee down in Florida was a rousing success for a first-time event, and it really got me looking forward to the festival like never before. Memorial Day weekend, as regular readers (or anyone in the music scene around here) will know, is the weekend of Summer Camp up in Chillicothe. This year should be quite interesting, with groups like Mudcrutch (2/3 of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), George Clinton and P-Funk, Fishbone, Ani DiFranco, Here Come the Mummies, Old Shoe, Chicago Farmer, EGi, local hip-hop wizard Truth AKA Trouble, and a slew of other well-known groups from local communities around the country. Summer Camp has grown to be a real force in the festival community, and the Midwest crowd loves their home turf like no other. The variety at Summer Camp never ceases to amaze, either. Funk, rock, blues, reggae, electronic, bluegrass, jam band, there is always something for everyone.

After May, however, the month of June brings with it some new experiences for me. I will be headed down to Manchester, Tennessee, for my very first Bonnaroo (as soon as I saw Ween was playing I knew had to be there), which will be held June 9-12. The headliners this year are Dead and Co. (Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, Oteil Burbridge of the Allman Brothers, Jeff Chimenti of Ratdog, and John Mayer), Pearl Jam, and LCD Soundsystem. Other highlights for me personally include the aforementioned Ween, a late night Tame Impala set, Ed Helms doing whatever bluegrass thing he does, and so many others I just simply don’t have time to talk about it. Bonnaroo is the biggest festival in the country, and I am delighted to be part of it this year.

Just two weeks later comes an epic weekend of jam band greatness. I managed to score a ticket on the field to each night of Phish’s first run at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Phish’s tour last year showed everyone that they are hitting a new stride, and they are playing like monsters. This year’s summer tour promises to scorch, and I imagine I’ll have to look around for my face on the field after each night. In addition, after the two Wrigley shows, we’re all heading just down the road to Noblesville, IN, for their show at Klipsch Music Center (formerly known as Deer Creek). Should be a nice, peaceful way to end a blistering, steaming run in Chicago. Following the Phish weekend is a bit of a breather for me, with nothing big happening in July (yet).

As we move into August though, the event of the season draws nigh: Lockn’ Festival in Virgina, which has released maybe the single most devastating initial lineup in my festival memory. Featuring headliners Phish (two nights, four sets), Ween (two nights), and My Morning Jacket (I have been dying to see them after hearing their latest album, The Waterfall), those three bands alone bring the noise. However, Lockn’ didn’t stop at the most choice headliners available; they went and added two late night sets of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (simply the best Dead tribute band around right now), Vulfpeck, Umphrey’s McGee, Gary Clark, Jr., Lettuce, Tedeschi Trucks Band, White Denim, Brandi Carlile, Twiddle, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Turkuaz, Galactic, two different Keller Williams Grateful Dead tributes (Grateful Grass and Grateful Gospel), and Charles Bradley and His Extraodinaires. I had to put the entire initial lineup here, it’s just simply too good to not have it all laid out like that. Lockn’ has built an excellent reputation in the few short years it has existed, and I cannot wait to add this to my list of places I’ve been this year.

I know this was a lot of blathering, so if you stuck it out to the end, thank you. I hope I’ve given you some vacation ideas for this summer (I always need road friends!), and maybe introduced you to some groups you’d like to check. Expect more detailed coverage with band spotlights as the season goes on. There is always something for everyone during festival season, so get out and find what makes you boogie. See you out there!

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