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The Sounds of Summer

A dozen summer concerts you must not miss


Wed. June 8, 7pm. Darien Lake Performing Arts Center | $55-$75

When the subject of jam bands comes up, Phish is usually a key word. This quintessential improvisational rock group has influenced aspiring musicians since the release of their first, four-track, cassette tape demo in 1987. Led by their 46-year-old mastermind Trey Anastasio, Phish returns to the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center this Wednesday (June 8).

The Casualties

Fri. June 24, 7pm. Mohawk Place | $12

So maybe street punk was born out of the UK Oi! scene with bands like the Oppressed and the Cockney Rejects, but New York City’s the Casualties have sustained the genre since the late 1980s. Their latest album, 2009’s We Are All We Have, once again captures their fast paced, in-your-face punk style and counter-culture, counter-political message on tracks like “We Carry On the Flag,” and “War Is Business.” Start practicing your mosh-pit maneuvers now or you might find yourself face-to-face with a pair of Doc Martens.

Todd Rundgren

Sat. July 2, 7pm. The Tralf | $30

Todd Rundgren has been hard at work penning his guitar-driven rock songs since his early days in garage rock band Nazz in the late 1960s. “I used to think the way to play guitar was to saw it with a coat hanger, as if it were a violin,” Rundgren says on his website. This is not surprising, considering some of the far-out sounds that the 62-year-old has expelled from his six-string over the years, particularly during his time with Utopia. Though his more experimental days might be behind him—in March he released a 12-track album titled Todd Rundgren’s Johnson, made up of mostly blues cuts—the legendary guitarist can still shred like no other. Catch him at the Tralf on July 2.

Elvis Costello & the Imposters

Sat. June 25, 6pm. Erie Canal Harbor | $10

Not many musicians could put together 38 hit songs, but Elvis Costello can, and he has put them together in a rather odd way. On his latest tour—with long time band the Imposters—dubbed “the Revolver Tour,” Costello took 38 of his favorite cuts, like “Radio, Radio,” “Veronica,” and “Pump It Up” and put them on a spinning “wheel of fortune.” Where the needle lands determines which song Costello plays next, ensuring a unique set list every night. Whether or not Costello will have his spinning wheel of hits when he comes to the Erie Canal Harbor on June 25 is unknown, but either way, expect to hear some pub rock favorites.

Vans Warped Tour

Tue. July 12, 12pm. Darien Lake | $31.50

The Vans Warped Tour has been a summer staple for punk rock fans since 1995. The traveling festival returns once again to Darien Lake Theme Park on July 12 with a wide variety of music. From veteran punk acts like Less Than Jake and Unwritten Law and huge pop punk bands like Simple Plan, to metalcore acts like the Devil Wears Prada and glam rock from Foxy Shazam, the Warped Tour delivers the festival experience in a new city every day. Bring plenty of extra cash for bottled water and bust out your SPF 5000 for the 16th year of this classic punk fest.

Camp Bisco

Thur. July 7 thru Sat. July 9. Indian Lookout Country Club | 1142 Batter Street | Pattersonville, NY | $160 (3-day pass)

One of the largest festivals in the nation happens only five hours from Buffalo. That festival is Camp Bisco, a decade-old musical event curated and headlined by Philadelphia’s electric jam band the Disco Biscuits. This 10th anniversary special includes five stages and several dance tents where DJs will spin music late into the night. The Biscuits usually take center stage at Bisco, but they are rarely the biggest name on the show. Huge acts like dance-punk duo Death From Above 1979, electronic mastermind Four Tet, synthpop act Cut Copy, rapper Wiz Khalifa, a DJ set from James Murphy and Pat Mahoney of LCD Soundsystem, Ratatat, Neon Indian, Bassnectar, and many more will be on hand. It all happens in Mariaville, in Schenectady County, New York, July 7-9.

Bright Eyes

Wed. July 27, 6:30pm. Artpark

For a decade critics have been calling 31-year-old singer/songwriter Conor Oberst “the new Dylan.” Not because of his unique voice, which is decidedly more understandable than the original Dylan, or because of any sort of similarity in the socio-political content their lyrics—Oberst prefers to reflect on the ideas of extreme heartbreak and morality—but because both so succinctly describe how the weight of the world comes down on their shoulders. Bright Eyes is the vehicle for Oberst’s music. The native of Omaha, Nebraska is joined by producer Mike Mogis and trumpet and piano player Nate Walcot who make up the trio. The group rose to fame during the indie-rock rush of the early 2000s with albums like I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning and Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground. In February of this year the band released their seventh studio album, the People’s Key a musically and instrumentally varied indie folk album, which peaked on the Billboard Top 200 at number 13. If Oberst’s career really does turn out to be anything like Dylan’s we might expect another 30 more years of songwriting, but don’t pass up this chance to see his group for free at Artpark as part of their Coors Light Wednesdays concert series.

Infringement Festival

Thur. July 28 thru Sun. August 7

Buffalo’s Infringement Festival is the anti-festival. There is no VIP seating, no major corporation backing it, and you won’t pay eight bucks a beer, said music director Curt Rotterdam. Infringement takes place on the streets of Buffalo with a mix of theatre, art, film, dance, poetry, and music. Music could be the most important aspect of this 11-day long festival though, making up about half of the entertainment. National acts include Toronto’s trumpet virtuoso, Brownman, crunk rock act Lazy Ass Destroyer, and electronic arist Dudley Ghost. Expect a wide variety of local music as well; with everything from electronic, jazz, rock, and some cutting edge stuff throw in. Take a chance, push some boundaries and explore some of Buffalo’s uncharted territory this summer at the Infringement Festival.

George Clinton

Thur. July 28, 6pm. Erie Canal Harbor

George Clinton, Parliament, and Funkadelic. Three names that have come to define funk and shape rock through the decades. Three groups of musicians who have persevered through legal battles, drug abuse problems, and even death. P-Funk’s most recent challenge: the death of their always eccentrically dressed lead guitarist, Garry Shider, last June. To P-Funk, Shider was considered the straw that stirred the drink, the conduit between Clinton and the other members of the band. To everyone else he was the diaper-wearing madman on stage with a guitar and fingers that never stopped spewing funk rhythms. Since Shider’s death, Clinton and his rotating cast of 25 musicians have continued to tour in his honor and in support of their latest release, George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love (2008), an album featuring artists like Santana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sly Stone, and System of a Down. Clinton and P-Funk will appear, in all of their rainbow wig wearing, glitter guitar twisted glory at the Erie Canal Harbor on July 28.

The Decemberists

Mon. August 1, 7pm. Artpark | $34

Despite their very wintery name, it should still be quite nice outside, according to Buffalo’s standards, when indie-folk band the Decemberists make a stop at Artpark on August 1. This year, the Portland Oregon based band released their sixth full-length studio album, the King Is Dead, which Rolling Stone hailed as deeply simplistic. Though that might seem like a bit of a contradiction, the phrase perfectly sums up the stripped down and honest acoustic songwriting of bandleader Colin Meloy. Their northwestern, indie-pop friends in the Head and the Heart join them.

Tokyo Police Club

Thur. August 4, 6pm. Erie Canal Harbor

In the five short years since indie rock band Tokyo Police Club formed, the group has released two critically well-received full-length albums and two EPs. What makes this impressive is that when the band came together in 2006 in Newmarket, Ontario, all of the members were under the age of 19. Don’t judge them by their ages though, because their latest album, 2010’s Champ, is on the mature end of the indie-rock spectrum. Produced by Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith) Champ is patient. The opening track, “Favourite Food” uses its full four minutes to build to from a lonesome synthesizer swell to a soaring guitar peak. Tokyo Police club will perform at the Erie Canal Harbor for Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor on August 4 with Boston rock band the Shelia Divine.

Blink 182 and My Chemical Romance with Manchester Orchestra

Thur. August 11, 7pm. Darien Lake Performing Arts Center | $TBA

What’s their age again? Oh yeah, 39, 35, and 35. These are the respective ages of Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus, Tom Delonge, and Travis Barker. The legendary, West Coast pop-punks certainly aren’t teenagers anymore, but that doesn’t stop them from stepping onto the stage and reminiscing over their crude high school days all over again. The trio reunited in 2009 after a four-year hiatus, which spawned new projects from each member like Barker and Hoppus’ +44, and DeLonge’s Angels & Airwaves. Joining them on stage at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center will be gothic, glam rock quartet My Chemical Romance and indie rockers Manchester Orchestra.

Click here to download a printable full-resolution PDF version (1.4MB) of our Free Shows calendar shown below.

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