And summer without great tunes just wouldn't be summer, now would it? While Charlotte continues the struggle to make itself a top-notch music city (though the caliber of local bands is at an all-time high), there are still plenty of shows in the area to whet your musical whistle between Memorial and Labor Days.
The revamped Room continues its strong indie-rock booking with a couple of shows that match anything Chapel Hill's Cat's Cradle might offer, including post-rock popsters Longwave (produced by Dave Fridman, Flaming Lips) and local heroes Mersey Sound on June 11, and a smokin' double-bill June 23 featuring Charlotte's own Dynamite Brothers opening for Austin-based Grand Champeen, known for their explosive "Mats-meet-Husker-Du-meet-Superchunk live shows. Bring a helmet.
And since summer's the perfect time for road trips, there's a pair of don't miss shows coming up in June at a couple of our favorite out-of-town venues (at least until a Charlotte club can land these types of quality acts). Mighty indie popsters The Shins visit the friendly confines of Chapel Hill's Cat's Cradle on June 14, with the deliciously dark Glands (Athens) and SubPop newbies Rogue Wave (San Francisco) in tow./And for the more sedate-but-literate set, songstress extraordinaire Aimee Mann brings her dark-but-beautiful melodies to the spic-and-span Orange Peel in Asheville on Tuesday, June 15, with Julian Coryell opening. Contact www.catscradle.net or www.orangepeel.com for info.
The annual Uncle Sam Jam at Dixie's Tavern June 25 features a nice bill this year, including bad-girl Liz Phair, pop-meisters Fountains of Wayne, radio-friendly The Calling and up-and-comer Josh Kelley. Contact www.dixiescharlotte.com for more information.
Tonic's First Annual Lush Boat Party takes place on Lake Norman July 10. The lake-faring dance party features DJs Bill Patrick and Dennis Rodgers of the Philly/NYC-based 112 Crew, who promise to deliver an eclectic mix of techno/house grooves rich enough to float anyone's boat. Boarding for a maximum of 150 revelers begins at 2pm, the cruise lasts from 3-8pm. Tickets are available through www.spinfoil.com.
For our jam band friends with a few days to kill, SmileFest runs July 22-25 at the Van Hoy Farms Family Campground in Union Grove, about an hour-and-a-half drive from downtown Charlotte. Billed as "4 Days of Peace, Love & Music" (where've we heard that before?), the lineup includes Galactic, the Derek Trucks Band, Keller Williams, Tony Rice Unit, Burning Spear, Acoustic Syndicate, and a host of others. A $100 ticket will get you all four days (camping included), and there's a see-another-show/free night promotion being run by several NC venues, including the Neighborhood Theatre. For more info, try either www.smilefest.com or www.neighborhood.theatre.com.
Skate kids and punkers of all stripes should get a buzz from this year's Vans Warped Tour "04 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on August 2. A 40-band testosterone extravaganza, the show features established names Bad Religion, Lars Frederiksen & the Bastards, the Vandals, and the Bouncing Souls, as well as up-and-comers like Melee, Sugarcult and Simple Plan in the all-day slamdance. Tickets available through www.ticketmaster.com.
The Sweet Harmony Traveling Revue, a veritable who's who of great contemporary Americana artists, rolls into the Paladium at Carowinds on August 13. The short-but-sweet tour (only 14 dates) is all ups, no downs, and features sets from the legendary Emmylou Harris, the Appalachian-influenced duo Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, the divine Patty Griffin, and roots favorite Buddy Miller. Given the nature of the tour, expect to see plenty of sitting-in on each other's sets. Tickets available through www.ticketmaster.com.
The Neighborhood Theatre (511 E. 36th Street, 704-358-9298) hosts the Queen of the Arts NoDa Fest on June 5, an arts festival with live music on an outdoor stage next to the venerable old theater. The show runs from noon-9pm, and features music from local acts David Childers & the Modern Don Juans, Gigi Dover, Abe Reid & The Spike Drivers, the Scott Jeffrey's Band and Bellyfull, as well as Great Britain's Laughing Gravy and Charleston, SC's Soap. The Theatre is also hosting one of this summer's most intriguing live shows on July 31, a mammoth ensemble set by three top-notch local bands, Pyramid (eight members), Sea of Cortez (six members) and the Houston Brothers (three members). The entire cast will be playing a 90-minute set together, re-shaping songs from each bands' catalogue into a symphonic din. Each group has their own infectious sound and unique instrumentation, making this mad idea an instant contender for Gig-of-the-Year honors.