Twenty summer concerts you shouldn’t miss
By Ron Johnson
K'naan will be playing a free show in David Pecaut Square as part of Luminato
Toronto hip-hop artist Drake announced yesterday has signed up R&B star The Weeknd and rappers A$AP Rocky and 2 Chainz for his third OVO Fest at Molson Amphitheatre on August 5. The gig will be the first time Drake has performed in his home town in a year, so tickets are expected to sell fast when they go on sale on Saturday. It adds to an already packed summer of music in Toronto that features the likes of The Black Keys, Coldplay and The Beach Boys. Here are our picks for 20 concerts you can’t miss.
Fishbone will play Lee's Palace on June 30
He’s one of the country’s most dynamic and engaging musicians and has a new album on the way. Plenty of star-power guest artists will make potentially earth-shattering appearances — ahem, Nelly Furtado? And did we mention this is a free show?
June 8, David Pecaut Square
We know what you’re thinking: didn’t these guys retire back in the ’90s? Apparently not. Mr. Jones and the Counting Crows are alive and well and touring in support of their new album, Underwater Sunshine.
June 15, Echo Beach, Ontario Place
Boys? Not so much. But if you yearn for that bygone era of wood-panelled station wagon, superlong surfboards and long days spent at the beach with a bunch of scruffy-haired nogoodniks and can suspend belief, well, a lot, then this concert could be just the thing.
June 19, Molson Amphitheatre
This guitarist is one fine musician. Last fall, Frisell released All We Are Saying — his interpretation of John Lennon’s music. It’s a unique experience to hear such music sans Lennon’s legendary lyrics. In June, Frisell plays it live as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival.
June 26, Enwave Theatre
This enchanting multi-instrumentalist shocked the world when she won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist over Justin Bieber, becoming the first jazz artist to claim the prize. She is that good. An Esperanza Spalding concert is a rarity in Toronto, so you’d best head down and check out this magnetic performer. Her new album, Radio Music Society, hit number one on the jazz charts.
June 28, Nathan Phillips Square, Mainstage Marquee
OK, Fishbone has been around, and one thing you begin to realize after seeing a few shows is that this band is relentless and always brings the party. On the heels of a cool documentary that has breathed new life into the band, this concert is going to be killer.
June 30, Lee’s Palace
Andrew Bird performs at Echo Beach on July 19
The Hidden Cameras have long been considered one of the city’s finest live bands. Founder Joel Gibb has been away from Toronto for a few years, working on new material and wowing crowds across the pond. But now he’s back. Expect a crazy night with incredible music and various stages of undress. Oh, and it’s free.
July 1, West Jet Stage, Harbourfront Centre
It has been a while since we’ve heard from the divine Ms. Apple. But as long as she still creates music that mashes up the best of Tori Amos and PJ Harvey, we are happy to forgive and forget. Just leave the attitude at home. Actually, that’s kinda fun, too. Her fourth studio album, The Idler Wheel — her fourth in 16 years, we might add — is due out June 19. Probably. Unless she doesn’t like it.
July 4, Sound Academy
There are few reasons to remain indoors in summertime, but the chance to catch Norah Jones playing in Massey Hall? That’s gotta rank right up there. Jones is at her sultry best as she really dials down the jazz and gets a little rootsy on her latest album, Little Broken Hearts.
July 6, Massey Hall
OK, it’s a bit north of Toronto, but the chance to see legendary Brit folk musician and certified rabble-rouser Billy Bragg headline a Sunday night show at Mariposa alongside South African Johnny Clegg? Well, that’s gotta be worth a traffic jam or two.
July 8, Mariposa Folk Festival
Santana actually sounds better in the summer at an outdoor venue. It’s a proven fact, people. With a hot new album, Shape Shifter, and very colourful clothing, Santana is one dude that will earn your adoration.
July 14, Molson Amphitheatre
Classically trained music whiz kid Andrew Bird is an American singer-songwriter with a penchant for doing things in a unique and unorthodox way, taking age-old music traditions and turning them on their heads and doing all of this to much adoration and critical acclaim.
July 19, Echo Beach
The days of a good, old-fashioned arena rock show are few and far between. So when a band comes to town that has the chops to fill a room like the cavernous ACC with a joyous ruckus, it is a worthwhile endeavour to get down there.
July 23, ACC
It is hard to judge Lyle without seeing him in concert. This proud Texan’s music is wonderful, sure, but this guy is a performer, and he knows how to entertain like few others. This July, he plays one of the city’s finest stages with his Acoustic Group in support of his latest album, Release Me.
July 26, Roy Thomson Hall
Florence and the Machine
This fantastic band, fronted by the remarkable Florence Welch, recently released a new Unplugged album that reworks a number of their best songs to dramatic affect. Expect a similarly chill but moving performance.
August 2, Molson Amphitheatre
Break out your black lipstick, black eyeshadow, black pants, black shirt.… you get the drill. Scottish mope-rockers the Jesus and Mary Chain are back touring, feeding on teen-turned-midlife angst and spitting out petulance at every turn. And it tastes just like honey.
August 3, Phoenix Concert Theatre
The awe-inspiring blues-rockers from Ohio already tore the roof off the ACC earlier this year. And they are back, without a roof, so they can play even louder without worrying about further roof damage. Claims adjusters rejoice!
August 4, Molson Amphitheatre
Singer-songwriter/hip-hop artist and more, Juno Award–nominated Kinnie Starr is one of the coolest and most engaging performers you may have never heard of. If this is true, check her out as part of the Planet IndigenUS festival.
August 11, Harbourfront Centre
Grace Potter is an ass kicker with serious musical chops who is setting the world on fire with her booze-fuelled rock mayhem. Her new record is out June 8, produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.
August 17, Phoenix Theatre
The Boss is back with the E Street Band and turning out some of his best music in years. The hard-scrabble, blue-collar hero, who rocks harder than dudes half, no, a quarter his age, is always a hot ticket and never fails to bring the house down.
August 24, ACC