Boston Calling is over with for another year, signaling the beginning of the summer concert season here in sunny (oops, rainy) (hold on a sec, kind of sunny, kind of rainy) New England.
There are concerts galore this summer, and we're not just talking about the big let's-package-a-couple-of-old-and-boring-classic-hits-bands-together-and-charge-a-bundle arena shows (see Journey and Def Leppard at Fenway below).
Here I'll try to break down the summer music scene in Boston and other areas in several different categories. One note: I think every band that ever produced a note is playing Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston this summer. Another note: I have broken down the concert outlook into a few different categories, including My Top 10 Shows, Must-Sees, Under the Radar, Bro Country, Yawn, Ugh ... you get the point. OK, one more note: We are not including the Lowell Summer Music Series shows here; they'll get their own preview later. Last note: They're all in chronological order.
My top 10 shows
These are the 10 I would see if I was rich.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats with Deer Tick: Blue Hills. SOB, this one's coming up quick, June 8. Get your tickets if you don't already have them. Rateliff, you've probably heard of, but this is a good chance to hear the Providence-based indie-rockers Deer Tick.
The LSD Tour: Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakum. (Get it?) They're playing both pavilions -- Blue Hills in Boston on June 12, and the far, far superior Bank of New Hampshire in Gilford on June 16. Got my tickets for the latter already. I saw Lucinda at the Lowell Summer Music Series a couple years back and can't wait to see her again, with the bonus of Yoakam and Earle.
Gov't Mule's Darkside of the Mule with the Avett Brothers: Xfinity, July 14. Warren Haynes and friends doing Floyd -- what's better than that? And the Avetts are a pretty good slice of Americana.
Beck: Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, July 15. I like a lot of Beck's stuff but I'm indifferent about the rest. Heard he puts on a good show, though.
Arcade Fire: Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, July 18. They are supposed to put on quite a show, and they had perhaps 2017's best song with "Everything Now."
Foo Fighters: Fenway, July 21 & 22. One band I haven't yet managed to see, and now they command a price that will probably keep it that way. But Grohl is the man.
Brandi Carlile and Jason Isbell: Again at the Bank of New Hampshire, July 26. Carlile's the headliner (and, no, it's not Belinda), and that's fine, but if you've never heard an Isbell song, what in the world are you waiting for? He is quite simply one of the top three songwriters out there now. He's a Grammy winner in the category of Americana, but he's considered alt-country, though not what I label as "bro country." I've seen him twice, including in 2016 at Lowell Memorial Auditorium (yes, bands play the auditorium every once in a while), so I may have to skip this one. You shouldn't.
Jeff Beck & Paul Rodgers with Ann Wilson of Heart: Blue Hills, Aug. 3. OK, here you've got perhaps (I said perhaps -- I'm not trying to start a war here) the greatest guitar player of all time, with two of the greatest voices in rock history. It's called the Stars Align Tour, and will they ever on this night.
Pearl Jam: Fenway, Sept. 2 & 4. It's my humble opinion that PJ jumped the shark five or eight albums ago, but I'd still love to see them.
Alison Krauss: Bank of New Hampshire, Sept. 8. The voice of an angel.
Daryl Hall & John Oates and Train: Xfinity Center, June 7. If only for Hall & Oates. Trains is a Yawn (see below).
Paul Simon: TD Garden, June 15. I don't know, he probably belongs under Past Their Prime.
Ray LaMontagne and Neko Case: Blue Hills, June 23 & 24. Saw Ray there two years ago, and it's just not the right venue for him.
U2 and the Lumineers: Gillette, June 25
Tedeschi Trucks Band: Xfinity, July 8
Weezer and Pixies: Xfinity, July 17
Vance Joy with Mondo Cozmo: Bank of New Hampshire, June 9.
Radiohead: TD Garden, July 28 & 29
Taylor Swift: Gillette, July 26, 27 & 28.
Dierks Bentley: Xfinity, June 3
Rascal Flatts: Xfinity, June 9
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill: Mohegan Sun, June 15: McGraw's bringing his wife along, but this is still a bro show.
Zac Brown Band: Fenway Park, June 15 & 16
Keith Kidman (oops, Urban): Bank of New Hampshire, July 5 & 6
Luke Bryan: Fenway, July 6
Florida George Line: Fenway, July 7
Brad Paisley: Xfinity, Aug. 11, and Bank of New Hampshire, Aug. 12
Kenny Chesney: Gillette, Aug. 24 & 25
Past Their Prime
Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers: Xfinity, July 7, and Bank of New Hampshire July 13. They're calling it "The Summer of Living Dangerously Tour." Well, they are getting up there.
Billy Joel: Fenway Aug. 10
Steve Miller Band with Peter Frampton: Blue Hills, July 6.
Eagles: TD Garden, July 20 & 21. Got a couple hundred I can borrow?
Imagine Dragons: Xfinity, June 6
Train: Xfinity, June 11
Dead & Company: Fenway, June 17 & 18
Coldplay: Gillette, Aug. 4
James Taylor: Fenway, Aug. 11. I know, I know, he's a local legend, he's an icon, he's a great songwriter and guitar player, he's ... zzzzzzzzzz.
Green Day: Xfinity, Aug. 28
Stone Temple Pilots/Bush/The Cult: Blue Hills, July 30, and Bank of New Hampshire, Aug. 2. STP without Scott Weiland is like a banana split without ice cream. The other parts are all good, but you gotta have more than fruit and toppings.
Under the Radar (But Worth a Look)
Eels: House of Blues, June 8
Gomez: Royale, Friday, June 8
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls: Royale, six shows, four of which are sold out, though tickets are still available for July 1 & 2. Happened to catch these cats opening for Isbell at Bank of New Hampshire a couple years ago, and they were great. (That was my top show of 2016.)
Phoenix: House of Blues, July 3
Greta Van Fleet: House of Blues, July 23 & 24
Lord Huron: House of Blues, Aug. 5
Dave Mason: Narrows Center for the Arts, Fall River, Aug. 21.
Car Seat Headrest: Royale, Sept. 13. Dumb name but up-and-coming band.
Dispatch: Blue Hills, Sept. 20 & 21.
Borns: Blue Hills, Sept. 25.
Dave Matthews Band: Bank of New Hampshire, June 12 & 13, Xfinity, June 22. No. Never ever ever ever.
Poison and Cheap Trick: Bank of New Hampshire, June 15. Cheap Trick may be worth the price alone, but really? Paired with Poison (oh, and something called Pop Evil)? Who puts these things together?
Styx with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Tesla: Blue Hills, July 1. What I meant by "let's-package-a-couple-of-old-and-boring-classic-hits-bands-together-and-charge-a-bundle" concerts.
Nickelback & Daughtry: Xfinity, July 8. Just stop it.
Boston: TD Garden, July 13. Tom Sholz and a bunch of guys pretending to be Boston.
Smashing Pumplins: July 21. Sigh.
Boy George & Culture Club with the B-52s and Thompson Twins' Tom Bailey: Boch Center Wang Theatre, July 27. Why?
Jason Mraz: Bank of New Hampshire, Aug. 3. See Dave Matthews above.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé: Gillette, Aug. 5. Double sigh.
Jimmy Buffett: Fenway, Aug. 9. Please, people, give it up.
Journey & Def Leppard: Fenway, Aug. 11. This one actually made me want to cry.
Rob Zombie & Marilyn Manson "Twins of Evil": Xfinity, Aug. 8. "Twins of Evil." Tee-hee.
Godsmack and Shinedown: Xfinity, Aug. 25. Triple sigh.
Justin Bieber: Gillette Aug. 29. He's still a thing?
Ed Sheeran: Gillette Sept. 14 & 15. Have I told you that I blame Ed Sheeran for much of what is wrong with music these days? Well, I do.
Let's not forget the local venues
The Bull Run: I've seen many an act at the Bull Run, more good than godawful. Sure, they're usually on the downslide of their careers, but it's usually still a good show for short money. This summer, they've got Max Weinberg's Jukebox, June 6; Steve Forbert, June 9 (you remember "Romeo's Tune," right?); Patty Smyth and Scandal ("Goodbye to You," "The Warrior") and the legendary John Mayall (who broke in some musicians you may have heard of in his career -- Clapton, Fleetwood, McVie, Green, Bruce, to name a few), Sept. 9.
Tupelo Music Hall: I saw Al Stewart ("Year of the Cat," "Time Passages") here earlier this year. (Don't laugh, he was quite good and a great storyteller.) They've got blues phenom Samantha Fish on July 8; 10,000 Maniacs (sans Natalie Merchant, of course, but it is Derry after all) on July 15; John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band on July 28; Toad the Wet Sprocket on Aug. 12; and two straight nights of '90s post-grunge with Everclear on Aug. 24 and Fuel on Aug. 25.
Blue Ocean: Salisbury's stylish seaside soundscape has Marshall Tucker Band on June 29, Little River Band (caveat: not a single member from the "Lonesome Loser," "Happy Anniversary" days remains) on July 5; the always-great Todd Rundgren on July 25; and recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues on Aug. 5.
And although I cringe at some of the acts listed above, I applaud anyone who supports live music, on either a large or local scale.