With Memorial Day weekend ushering the unofficial start of summer, it's once again time to turn our attention toward all the great concerts that go with the season. Whether you're in the mood for an outdoor show under the stars, a major rock show at the Arena or something a bit more intimate, there's no shortage of options to hit the proverbial right note.
After many were underwhelmed by the brevity of Spokane Pavilion's sophomore lineup last year, the Riverfront Park venue has a more robust lineup for its third year. After kicking off this weekend with Lord Huron (see page 44), things really get popping starting in July.
Late '90s/early '00s hitmakers Incubus are set to rock the Pavilion on July 22, while an absolutely stacked lineup of jazz, reggae, soul and R&B featuring Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Ziggy Marley, Mavis Staples and Robert Randolph and the Family Band swings into town the following week (July 26). A Sub Pop double-bill of Seattle folk pop stars The Head and the Heart and the wryly humorous rocker Father John Misty rocks the Pavilion on Aug. 6, followed by pop singer-songwriter Noah Khan (Aug. 18), Rebelution's reggae rock (Aug. 24) and Billy Idol (Aug. 28). Old indie rockers will rejoice when the triple bill of Modest Mouse, Pixies and Cat Power rides a wave of mutilation into town (Sept. 6), and the Pavilion closes out its season on Sept. 23 with a jam fest courtesy of Goose.
NORTHERN QUEST CASINO & RESORT
The most robust outdoor summer music lineup happens to be at Inlander reader's 2023 pick for the best local venue: Northern Quest's BECU Live.
The schedule has a bit of everything. Things kick off with melodic folkie options in The Avett Brothers (July 14), Blues Traveler (July 15) and Jason Mraz (July 17). The sounds then get a lot heavier with the cavalcade of Volbeat (July 23), Falling in Reverse (July 24), 3 Doors Down (July 27) and Ghost (Aug. 5). The rest of August's concerts are more of a genre whirlwind: Young the Giant's indie rock (Aug. 8), the R&B smoothness of Boyz II Men (Aug. 19), country from Dierks Bentley (Aug. 27), classic rock via The Beach Boys (Aug. 28), and a little electronic violin action courtesy of Lindsey Stirling (Aug. 29).
Northern Quest's outdoor season also stretches out through the end of September, so while other spots pack it in after Labor Day Weekend, BECU Live is still popping with Rick Springfield (Sept. 8), Counting Crows and Dashboard Confessional (Sept. 13), Ludacris (Sept. 16), Foreigner (Sept. 22), Dan + Shay (Sept. 23) and The All-American Rejects (Sept. 25).
FESTIVAL AT SANDPOINT
Northern Idaho's premiere summer concert series happens on the banks of the Pend Oreille River in the form of Festival at Sandpoint. The outdoor shows at War Memorial Field have a very community-oriented vibe that's great for families. Over the course of two weeks (July 27-Aug. 6), the eclectic festival brings in headline shows by Train (sold out), REO Speedwagon, Gary Clark Jr., Michael Franti & Spearhead, Ashley McBryde, The String Cheese Incident and more.
Not all big summer concerts happen outdoors, as the Spokane Arena's slate showcases. Arguably the biggest concert of the year — Foo Fighters' visit with The Breeders on Aug. 4 — sold out pretty much instantly, but there are a couple more country-leaning chances to rock out on the calendar. Country superstar Chris Stapleton plays the Arena on June 15 and even tapped Spokane's own soul king Allen Stone to open the show. For even more country rock, one can check out Alabama's visit to the Inland Northwest on July 6.
Just across the street from the Arena, the Podium enters its second year of hosting concerts during the dead months for indoor sporting events. This summer's three shows span the rock gamut. For melodic rock songwriting, it's difficult to top the co-headlining bill featuring Jimmy Eat World and Manchester Orchestra (July 14). If you prefer things on the heavier side, modern metalcore standouts Beartooth and Trivium share another joint headlining show (June 14), while the heavy metal veterans of W.A.S.P. (Aug. 11) look to show they're still going strong 40-plus years into their career.
For my money, there's not a better outdoor venue on the planet than the Gorge. The majestic Central Washington views are spectacular and worth the trek even if it's not for a concert by one of your favs.
The Gorge has become a hotspot for electronic dance music. The EDM season starts this weekend with Illenium's two-day extravaganza (see page 44), followed by three big EDM festivals: Beyond Wonderland (June 17-18), Above and Beyond: Group Therapy Weekender (July 21-23) and Bass Canyon (Aug. 18-20).
Not to be left out of the fest-ing, country fans have their days in the sun when Watershed Festival (Aug. 4-6) takes over the Gorge. Country star Eric Church also closes out the seasonal slate (Sept. 9-10).
There's also plenty for the rock and folk crowds. My personal most anticipated show of the summer is folk rock singer-songwriter supergroup Boygenius gracing the Gorge on July 29. Dave Matthews Band returns for its annual Labor Day residency (Sept. 1-3), while Brandi Carlile has a weekend of her own (June 9-11), including a headlining night by Joni Mitchell (sold out). Dead & Company's final tour (July 7-8) and The Lumineers (Sept. 8) round out the Gorge's offerings.
If you're willing to drive two hours to the Gorge to see a show, there's a decent chance you might also be willing to drive three hours to check out a gig at Kettlehouse Amphitheater outside Missoula. The 6-year-old venue amid a pine forest is a terrific place to catch a show, and while a lot of touring acts double dip at Kettlehouse and Spokane-area spots, there are also lineup highlights that won't be stopping in our backyard. Among the shows not yet sold out are Death Cab for Cutie (June 10), Ben Folds with the Missoula Symphony Orchestra (Aug. 2), Seven Lions (June 7), Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frogs Brigade (July 7) and The Flaming Lips performing its beloved album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Aug. 25).
While there's more than enough to occupy most folks' concert-going calendars above, there's still plenty more going on around the region this season. The Moscow Mountain Music Fest brings great Northwest indie, folk, and Americana acts like Blitzen Trapper and MAITA together for one day at the Latah County Fairgrounds on Aug. 12. The one day backyard party/festival Cannonball returns to Browne's Addition on July 22. The Spokane Symphony gets in on the summer sounds action with concerts at Brick West Brewing Co. (June 21), a patriotic set at Spokane Pavilion (July 4), the Labor Day jaunt to Comstock Park (Sept. 4) and a visit from cello master Yo-Yo Ma (Sept. 6).
The Spokane Symphony's home base of the Fox Theater has eclectic offerings coming up including Americana star Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (July 6), country from Charley Crockett (July 21), Jinkx Monsoon's wild drag concert (Aug. 13) and Catalan rumba tunes via Gipsy Kings (Aug 19).
Just across the street from the Fox, the Knitting Factory welcomes a host of rock/punk standouts — Gogol Bordello (July 17), Circle Jerks (July 22), Spoon (Aug. 21), Flogging Molly (Aug. 22) and Band of Horses (Sept. 4) — in addition to EDM artists like G-Rex (June 24) and hip-hop like Hoopfest weekend's Henry 3 (June 24).
On the same block, Bing Crosby Theater's summer slate features the bluegrass/Americana blend of Railroad Earth (June 27), singer-songwriter Amos Lee (Aug. 4), Japanese rock from Band-Maid (Aug. 12), That Motown Band (Aug. 19), and more.
First Interstate Center for the Arts hosts the iconic Bonnie Raitt (Sept. 6), Dream Theater (July 17), the farewell tour for blues guitar legend Buddy Guy (Aug. 9). And highlights at Lucky You Lounge include The Head and the Heart's Josiah Johnson (June 25), Protomartyr (July 8) and Youth Lagoon (July 24).
Here's to a great summer soaking in the sun and sounds. ♦