It’s going to be a busy 2011 summer concert season in Colorado.
The economy may be sluggish, but local promoters reached into their bag of booking tricks and came up with an interesting lineup of shows. If you like electronic music, British folk acts, roots music or reality TV stars — this is your summer.
Here are the top picks and the must-avoids for this summer’s selection of shows. Let’s hope Mother Nature cooperates with the outdoor concerts — they’re usually held rain or shine.
Bisco Inferno, May 28 at Red Rocks: Disco Biscuits alert: this will be the band’s only 2011 Colorado visit. This year’s Inferno features a very eclectic bill with the Biscuits, Rusko, Big Boi, Boombox and Emancipator.
Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae, May 29 at the 1st Bank Center: This could be the pop must-see show of the summer. The bill features hit makers Bruno Mars, Janelle Monae and Mayer Hawthorne.
DeVotchKa and Joe Purdy at etown, June 1 at the Boulder Theater: This is the perfect way to start the summer. You get to hear local heroes DeVotchKa, experience newcomer Joe Purdy and support an environmentally conscious radio show.
The Airborne Toxic Event, June 2 at the Ogden Theatre: This band doesn’t throw a concert — it offers an indie rock experience– complete with lush songs and a very artistic stage show. This is a must-see event.
Dispatch, June 3-5 at Red Rocks: They’re back. Dispatch is officially disbanded, but the roots rockers come out of hibernation every few years to play sold out shows. The band’s June 3 and 4 shows are sold out, but you can still get tickets for the June 5 concert with Flobots.
Bright Eyes, June 3 at the Fillmore: Conor Oberst is bringing Bright Eyes back on the road this summer and promoting the new album The People’s Key. This indie folk-rock outfit always delivers an emotive, spot-on show.
Noah And The Whale, June 3 at the Fox Theatre: British indie folky groups are a hot commodity. Just look at Mumford & Sons. The latest Brit folk sensation is Noah And The Whale. The band’s topped UK record charts and its ready to invade the US.
Iron & Wine, June 4 at the Boulder Theater: No surprise here, this show’s already sold out. Lucky ticket holders will get to hear Sam Beam’s (alias Iron & Wine) amazingly intricate lyrics and songs.
Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine, June 5 at the Boulder Theater: Get ready for one of the most unique and fun concert experiences of the summer. Cheese takes popular rock, rap and Top 40 tunes and turns them into cheesy-Vegas lounge numbers. It works. You’ll be kicking yourself if you miss this show.
Bootsy Collins, June 6 at the Boulder Theater: Get funked this summer with the arrival of Bootsy Collins. The legendary funkmaster was part of James Brown’s band, lent his talents to Parliament Funkadelic, and recorded with modern acts Snoop Dogg, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Buckethead.
Truth & Salvage Co, June 10 at the Fox Theatre. Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes discovered the California act. He knew a good thing, as this band combines just the right elements of acoustic, harmonic and rock sounds.
Cake, June 13-14 at the Ogden Theatre: Yes, both Cake shows are sold out. If you scored tickets, than get ready for two nights of amazing music that jumps genres faster than you can say… Cake.
Mumford & Sons, June 15-16 at the Fillmore: These are the guys that started the British indie folk invasion. The shows are sold out and websites are selling tix for $100-$200 a pop. Ouch!
Ray LaMontagne with Brandi Carlile, June 17 at Red Rocks: You had to be quick on the draw this summer, ’cause this show is sold out, too. On the plus side, it’s a great pairing of talented singer-songwriters.
Wiz Khalifa, June 18 at the 1stBank Center: There’s a reason why this is called the Rolling Papers World Tour. Rapper Wiz Khalifa loves to rap about weed and smoke it — and we’re pretty sure the audience will be joining the party. If you missed 4/20 and you’re bummed, this is your show.
Bassnectar, June 18 at Red Rocks: Bassnectar deserves this Red Rocks’ show, as the DJ/producer worked his way up the ranks of electronic music acts. This guy is a true artist, and his shows are always high energy and fun.
Widespread Panic, June 24-26 at Red Rocks: The Widespread family will make its annual pilgrimage to Mecca — er… Red Rocks — to see its favorite jamsters.
Stephen Marley, June 25 at the Boulder Theater: A Colorado summer music roster requires at least one Marley to bring in the reggae vibe. Stephen Marley will be showing off tunes from his new roots/reggae album for Boulder.
Panic! at the Disco!, June 28 at the Ogden Theatre: This duo creates complex and lush indie pop songs. You definitely want to hear the brilliant new tunes off Panic’s new record, Vices & Virtues live in concert.
The Civil Wars, June 29 at the Fox Theatre: This new duo’s on the buzz list for its organic, atmospheric, indie-folk songs. Better catch the band in a small venue.
The Meat Puppets with Bad Weather California, June 29 at the Bluebird: Great bands think alike, so The Meat Puppets asked Colorado’s Bad Weather California to join them on tour. That alone is worth the ticket price.
Umphrey’s McGee, July 3 at Red Rocks: Celebrate the 4th of July weekend with prog rock masters Umphrey’s McGee. You know they’re going to have an amazing light show rigged up at Red Rocks.
Blues Traveler, Matisyahu and Toad the Wet Sprocket, July 4 at Red Rocks: Whoever booked this bill must’ve been smoking Wiz Khalifa’s wacky weed. Matyisyahu is worth the trip to Red Rocks, but forget about the ’90s has-beens.
The Beautiful Girls — Mat McHugh Solo and Acoustic, July 7 at the Fox Theatre: Mat McHugh’s fronted the rootsy indie band Beautiful Girls, but he’s flying solo for this Boulder show. The musician’s ready to show off his new guitar, bass and drum tracks.
The Avett Brothers with Grace Potter And The Nocturnals, July 9 at Red Rocks: This is a perfect roots billing for a perfect night at Red Rocks. The vocals are going to sound amazing reverberating off the rocks. ‘Nuff said.
Owl City, July 12 at the Fillmore: Owl City gets cred for being one of the first artists to mesh pop and electro music into a Top 40 hit. This show is worth the road trip to Denver.
Zach Deputy, July 13 at the Fox Theatre: This one-man band is ready to show off his technical guitar chops, roots rock songs and four-octave vocal range.
Ben Folds, July 13 at the Ogden Theatre: Even though he’s been a major player in college radio for a good, long while, a lot of people were still going, “Ben who?” before the reality show “The Sing Off” hit TV. Hint, he’s a judge on the program. Folds will be playing tunes from his collaboration with author Nick Hornby (“High Fidelity”) called Lonely Avenue for Denver.
Blitzen Trapper: July 20 at the Bluebird Theatre: If you love lush melodies and pitch-perfect harmonies wrapped into an indie rock package — this is the band to see.
Josh Ritter, July 20 at Chautauqua: Ritter plays eloquent and emotionally packed acoustic songs. He’s a singer/songwriter on the rise and his music should resonate in Chautauqua Auditorium.
Fleet Foxes, July 21 at the Fillmore: There’s a definite buzz on Fleet Foxes. The Sub Pop band has just the right amount of emotion, acoustic sounds and edge in its songs. This is the kind of music you want to listen to more than once.
Buckethead, July 23 at the Fox Theatre: You have to give credit to a guy that can shred guitar and wear a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket on his head. Your ear drums will bleed, but Buckethead can lay down the riffs.
Katy Perry, July 26, at 1stBank Center: Either you love Katy Perry’s saucy pop tunes or they make your teeth hurt. One thing is certain, this show’s going to be packed with hit tunes and lots of stage glitz.
Train with Maroon 5, July 28 at Red Rocks Amphitheatre: Here’s a pop session on the rocks for people that want to hear band hits for the billionith time. Can you say “Soul Sister” by Train? Though we have more respect for Maroon 5’s Adam Levine after seeing his judging stint on “The Voice.”
The Flaming Lips with Primus: Aug. 3 at Red Rocks: If you love dark, weird and brilliant this is the ticket. The Lips are performing their version of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and who knows what Les Claypool and Primus have cooked up?
My Morning Jacket with Amos Lee, Aug. 4 at Red Rocks: This double-barreled roots blast is worth the ticket price. Both My Morning Jacket and Amos Lee are signature acts that can easily headline their own shows.
Slightly Stoopid, Aug. 6 at Red Rocks: Slightly Stoopid fans are a loyal and hardy bunch — they’ve even sat through Red Rocks’ shows in the pouring rain! This time, the band’s bringing Rebelution and Shwayze & Cisco Adler to the party.
Andrew Bird, Aug. 10 at Chautauqua Auditorium: Bird always takes the unconventional approach to his lo-fi music. That’s what makes his tunes so original and uniquely orchestrated. It should be interesting to see what he has cooked up for Boulder.
John Butler Trio and Brandi Carlile, Aug.11 at the Fox Theatre: The JBT is a solid roots and rock outfit, but this is a Triple A radio showcase and the band will be cranking out the requisite hits. The John Butler Trio will also play Red Rocks on Aug. 12.
Pretty Lights, Aug. 13 at Red Rocks: Fort Collins’ Derek Smith has become a serious force on the electronic music scene, and this show will sound amazing on the rocks. Better buy your tickets soon!
Thievery Corporation and Ghostland Observatory, Aug. 14 at Red Rocks: There are a lot of electronic bands, but Thievery Corporation and Ghostland Observatory know how to deliver the music and put on a full concert experience. Ghostland’s laser show is going to be breathtaking at Red Rocks.
Atmosphere’s Family Vacation Tour, Aug. 19 at Red Rocks: If you saw Atmosphere play the Fox, then you know how good this alternative hip-hop band is in concert. The group’s Red Rocks experience will be geared toward the outdoor venue.
Death Cab for Cutie, Aug. 23 at Red Rocks: Death Cab’s one of the most amazing bands on the indie rock/pop scene and it will be treat to hear their songs live on the rocks.
Kings of Leon, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at Red Rocks: The Kings of Leon bring it when they put on a concert. The experience is raw and rocking, and you know the band’s putting every ounce of energy into the show. Yeah, you want to be at Red Rocks for this one.
Phish, Sept. 2-4 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park: Phish will bring their jamming A-game for Colorado fans, but we can’t say as much for the venue. This is the same place that housed the on-hiatus Mile High Music Festival. Bring lots of water, your own shade, your hiking shoes (it’s a BIG field) and pray it’s not 100 degrees.
Ke$ha: Sept. 3 at the 1stBank Center: The feisty party girl’s ready to take a bite out of Colorado and she’s coming to the 1stBank Center. Love her or hate her — same goes for the spelling of her name — Ke$ha cranks out very danceable club tunes. Besides, who knows if her 3OH!3 buddies will show up?
STS9, Sept. 9-10 at Red Rocks: STS9 helped pioneer the electronic music trend, and the band’s ready to show off its latest electro rock feats for Colorado. We know loyal fans have already scooped up tickets for both nights.