Warm weather gives people an urge to get out of the house, so why not head to the great outdoors for a night of music? Sure, there are plenty of great shows happening inside venues all around Charlotte (see sidebar), but it's nice to enjoy an evening under the stars from time to time when the weather is right for it. Here are our picks from can't-miss outdoor concerts coming to Charlotte this summer:
Zac Brown Band (June 4, PNC Music Pavilion) — Georgia's Zac Brown band has always been a bit of a chameleon on the country music scene. While fitting in just fine at the Grand Ole Opry, they've also made themselves at home in the rock world thanks to collaborations with Dave Grohl and Chris Cornell. The band's recent album, Jekyll + Hyde, plays like a middle finger to genre labels with its mixture of styles. Then again, how many country artists can get away with covering everything from The Beatles to Metallica during their live show?
Shovels and Rope (June 5, N.C. Music Factory) — This Charleston, South Carolina, husband-and-wife duo has slowly made its way up the Charlotte venue circuit — from playing for small crowds at the Evening Muse and Snug Harbor to opening up for the Avett Brothers' New Year's Eve show at Time Warner Cable Arena. Now, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, who released the stellar Swimmin' Time last August, bring their backyard foot-stompin' folk to the Fridays at the Factory series to heat up an already warm summer night.
North Mississippi Allstars (June 12, N.C. Music Factory) — Luther Dickinson and Cody Dickinson have left their mark on countless artists thanks to their musicianship and/or producing abilities (among other skills), but North Mississippi Allstars is where they've always shined brightest — guitarist Luther, drummer Cody and bassist Chris Chew. They've released a whole mess of albums since 2000, often showcasing their live performances that constantly push the borders of Southern rock into blues and jam territory. These guys aren't about getting hits on the radio; they're about moving music forward with soul and heart.
Gogol Bordello (June 15, Uptown Amphitheatre) — Haven't seen Gogol Bordello live before? What are you waiting for?! It's been three years since the Gypsy punk outfit hit the Fillmore stage for a raucous night of high-energy folk-rock that fuses together European and Latin styles. Frontman Eugene Hutz is one of the finest band leaders around and rarely stands still for even a moment. Don't know any of their songs? It truly doesn't matter. Gogol Bordello will have you up and moving in short order.
Charlotte Symphony Summer Pops (June 21, Symphony Park) — On this night, the Charlotte Symphony led by conductor Albert-George Schram pays tribute to movies by playing a number of classic themes including Wizard of Oz, The Godfather, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Frozen, Grease and Aladdin. It's a great family-friendly event where you can bring a picnic and drinks while watching the sun set and listening to orchestrated music.
Tedeschi Trucks Band (July 15, Uptown Amphitheatre) — With the recent end of the Allman Brothers Band, the Tedeschi Trucks Band has become the primary vehicle for guitarist Derek Trucks. His calm, emotive playing pairs well with the soulful vocal style of his wife, Susan Tedeschi. With three studio albums released, there's plenty of original material to choose from, though on this tour — featuring Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Doyle Bramhall II — they're throwing in a handful of covers, too, allowing for fantastic collaborations.
Barnstock (July 18, Black Farms Road, Huntersville) — The lineup on this one's still being announced, but Barnstock never fails to help put Huntersville on the music map once a year. In its fifth year, this charity benefit concert continues to put together a diverse lineup that showcases local, regional and national talent. From the EDM of Buku to the high-energy rock of Shinobi Ninja to a silent disco featuring DJs including Kyle Biddy, this is a one-day mini festival that we can only hope will continue to grow and thrive in the future.
My Morning Jacket (July 29, Uptown Amphitheatre) — Rock quintet My Morning Jacket is the jam band that doesn't really jam. It's the Southern rock outfit that doesn't fit the mold. Instead, My Morning Jacket has won over countless fans with its genre-bending music that defies labels. It's psychedelic, rootsy and alternative while maintaining indie flavor. Whatever ... go see why so many people love them with a passion. Also worth mentioning is opening act Lucius, an indie-pop band driven by constant harmonies.
J. Cole (Aug. 12, PNC Music Pavilion) — Fayetteville's favorite son, J. Cole, is helping to keep North Carolina on hip-hop's map. His latest album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, has sold more than a million albums, surprisingly without any guest artists on board (the first no-feature album to achieve those sales since 1989). With guests Big Sean, YG and Jeremih on tour with him, this show could turn out to be one hell of a homecoming for the 30-year old.
Jarekus Singleton (Aug. 13, U.S. National Whitewater Center) — The 30-year-old blues guitarist is one of the hot new stars of the scene. His approach is to let the guitar do the talking — conveying emotion through a single note as he tilts his head back, eyes closed, as easily as he can tell a story through a riff. When the time comes, he's not afraid to let his notes find their way through the haze, captivating audiences with extended solos that serve the song far more than any kind of "look what I can do" showcase.
Ancient Cities (Aug. 15, U.S. National Whitewater Center) — What started as a duo with Charlotte singer/guitarist Stephen Warwick and bassist Justin Fedor (The New Familiars) has quickly developed into a full-on rock quartet — drummer Jonathan Erickson (The Noises 10, Hot Gates) and keyboardist Matt Branniff — that fuses some folk stylings, but isn't afraid to stray when the mood strikes them. The band's debut full-length made my top-10 albums of 2014, and seeing them play under the stars as kayakers race by on the rapids makes this a must-see.17 Other Can’t Miss Shows
St. Vincent June 2 at The Fillmore
George Clinton June 5 at Amos’ SouthendGeto Boys June 8 at Snug Harbor
Shakey Graves June 11 at Neighborhood Theatre
Hurray for the Riff Raff June 17 at Visulite Theatre
The War on Drugs June 18 at Amos’ Southend
The Baseball Project June 20 at Double Door Inn
Malcolm Holcombe June 27 at Evening Muse
CLTure Music Fest f. Man Man June 27 at Chop Shop
Merle Haggard June 30 at Belk Theater
4th of July Fiasco July 4 at The Milestone
Stephen Stills July 14 at Neighborhood Theatre
Sam Smith July 18 at Time Warner Cable Arena
Iron & Wine w/ Ben Bridwell July 21 at The Fillmore
Raekwon & Ghostface Killah July 25 at The Fillmore
God Save the Queen City Aug. 27-29 at Evening Muse, Chop Shop, The Fillmore