Obviously any such list is inherently subjective. I actually know guys who consider USANA's Def Leppard show at the top of this summer's must-see shows. (Blech) I also know there are many local teens who count down all year to Warped tour's arrival here in SLC. (Crowd surfing is a great way to wrench one's back and simultaneously endure borderline sexual assault) while others are genuinely "stoked, Brah!" that String Cheese Incident is rolling through (Another 10-minute mandolin solo!!) and still others can't wait for Toby Keith and/or Nickleback. (I have a tough time with songs so stupid I can literally feel my brain cells dying.)
Also, while the Twilight Concert Series likely won't be announced for a few weeks, I don't really consider those events to be music concerts any more so than I do the Utah State Fair. That's because the music - generally speaking - is completely ancillary background noise to about 80 (90?) percent of the audience each week. Is Twilight a good time? Sure. Is it a concert? Not to me.
So, with seemingly most everything announced that's going to be, this seems a good time to run through my list of "you-can't-miss, yes-you-must-get-a-babysitter-and-go-to-work feeling-like-crap-the-next-day shows of the summer.
Honorable mentions go to the Josh Ritter show at Red Butte and Iron Maiden at USANA. Both nights will be a blast. But, in entirely different ways.
5.Who: John Fogerty Where: Deer Valley Resort Snow Park Outdoor Ampitheatre When: Thursday, June 21 Tickets: Avaiilable at fteslc.com
Why?: Maybe I'm showing my age a bit, but I know I'll be on the young side of the spectrum in this crowd as the voice of one of rock's greatest ensembles hits the Wasatch for the first time in at least fie years. And also kudos to First Tracks Entertainment, AKA The State Room guys, for putting Fogerty in such a winsome venue. For those of us raised on the sounds of Creedence Clearwater Revival coming out of the radio - and that's a few generations now - this should be a great night. Also, friends who have seen Fogerty said he always has a top-flight band behind him and is always in good form himself.
4.Who: Neko Case Where: The Salt Lake City Main Library When: Saturday, June 16 Tickets: Available at fteslc.com
Why? Because the Library's east lawn is among the most criminally underused music venues in SLC will have its doors open for one of the handful of times it's accessible all year. And Neko Case is the closest thing that indie-rock really in terms of a bona fide diva. She's got a terrific, rootsy songbook and is a compelling live performer. This show is always a great time (especially when Cake's not booked like last year) and this annual fundraiser for the Utah ARTSFest is generally one of the most fun evenings of the summer.
3.Who: Glen Campbell Where: Sandy City Ampitheater When: Tuesday, June 26 Tickets: smithstix.com
Why? The Sandy Ampitheater normally doesn't get many acts that are remotely cool. (Kenny Loggins was on the bill last summer. Eesh. Talk about a "Danger Zone.") Consider this the exception. Campbell - whose list of accolades and accomplishments could choke a mule - is doing a farewell tour. And while I have mixed emotions about some veteran acts, Campbell isn't one of them. Once upon a time, Campbell was one of the biggest names in music. Period. And unlike say, The Scorpions or Judas Priest, this:"Goodbye Tour" most likely won't be repeated. Campbell's played on so many records and worked with a vast array of of performers while also selling 45 million albums under his own name. He deserves this kind of long-term, national embrace and I, for one, won't miss it. (Full disclosure: Campbell and I are both from Arkansas, but that's not the main reason I'm a fan)
2. Who: Los Lobos/Steve Earle
Where: Red Butte Garden:
When:Sunday, July 29
Why? One of the sleepers of the summer and this is being largely passed on by the older crowd (More quail eggs? Yes, please.) that populates many RBG shows. Why? Because these acts aren't loved by radio - although they should be - and don't carry the panache that others do (and that's a huge injustice, but hey, what can you do?). Meanwhile, for those of us who love rootsy rock with a message that you can dance to. This just might be the show of the year. More than a few people I know will swear on anything that's handy that Los Lobos is the best live act in the country. Period. Steve Earle? He's got a stack of great records and is still firmly on top of his game. (And he's got one of the scariest beards in showbiz). Also, Sunday nights generally produce a perfect vibe at Red Butte.
1. Who: Bon Iver/Wilco: Where: Red Butte Garden: When: Tuesday, May 29 for Bon Iver and Monday, June 25 for Wilco Tickets: Both concerts are sold out.
A dead-heat at the top for two Red Butte shows that are sadly already sold out. However, that doesn't mean you have to give up on seeing these acts. Some tickets for RBG shows are almost always available by folks selling unused tickets at the front gate before the opener starts. It's been my experience that these aren't scalpers usually, but are just regular folks with tickets that will go unused for whatever reason. I've seen the ticketless - including myself - get in on several occasions there, so it's not a lost cause. But anyway, back to the music.These two shows not only showcase two of the most respected acts in the music biz these days, but showcase the fact that SLC can bring top-shelf artists through town while they're near the peak of their career. While USANA Ampitheatre seems to specialize in retreads or bands with little relevance - Journey. Really? - Red Butte consistently brings in acts that matter, are written and talked about nationwide while producing some of the best music currently available.
Wilco's Monday night gig in late June sold out in less than three hours just to RBG's members and Bon Iver tickets have been a memory since at least mid-March. Both of these shows promise to be special nights. Both bands have been absent from Salt Lake City since 2008. Wilco, pictured above, played a tremendous show at Red Butte while Bon Iver was squeezed into Gallivan Center for a scarily overpacked night that was so crowded it was nearly impossible to focus on the band or park within SLC city limits. If you've got tickets to either event, you're in for a treat. But, you probably already know that.