Summer's finally here, and that means you have no excuse not to go see live music. During the interminable winter months, you had valid reasons to stay cocooned on your couch. The weather was too cold, the days too short. Lining up outside a venue meant risking frostbite — or, at the very least, a wicked case of the shivers. Cold, dreary, blah blah blah. That was then.
This is now.
Put down that new copy of Grand Theft Auto IV. Leave your house.
No, really: Get up, get out, and go see all of the great live music coming through our town this summer. Need a little guidance? We've broken it all down for you right here and have even thrown in an expanded concert calendar.
Finest Columbian Exports: While some indie bands seem to be faltering under the weight of their own preciousness, White Rabbits finds the perfect blend of inventive instrumentation and full-on rock. The sextet hails from Columbia, Missouri (although home base is now New York City), so go share the Show-Me State love at the Bluebird (2706 Olive Street; www.bluebirdstl.com) on Monday, June 2. The White Rabbits' outsized hooks and two-drummers-are-better-than-one ethos are sure to get your feet moving. Brooklyn Americana-rockers Pela open. Tickets are $ 10 (or $12 for the under-21 crowd).
Most Glam Evening: Liverpool-based Ladytron is at once sweet and sexy, bright and menacing. Thanks to gorgeous vocals by Mira Aroyo and Helena Marnie, the group transcends synthpop affectations to produce excellent albums like Light & Magic and Witching Hour. Ladytron's layered, electronic sounds fill out when played live, so get front and center at the Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard; 314-726-6161 or www.thepageant.com) on Monday, June 16. Tickets are $17.50.
Quickest Way to Feel Like a Kid Again: Swoon! OMG! The Jonas Brothers are coming to town! OK, so some of us (ahem) are way too old to appreciate what all of the hubbub is about (yep, we're so old we use words like "hubbub"), but the fresh-faced brothers' hook-packed albums are wildly popular. In an age when middle-schoolers beat each other up for sport, there's something undeniably sweet about the Jonas Brothers' success. Relive the happier side of your teenage years Tuesday, July 22, at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (14141 Riverport Drive, Maryland Heights; 314-298-9944). And if you need a little pop-punk angst to cut through the cheeriness, stick around for headliner Avril Lavigne. Tickets are $33.50 to $88.50 (seriously).
Most Classic Double Bill: Makes us feel kinda old (again) to be referring to Tom Petty and Steve Winwood as "classic." But we don't mean that in the outdated, relegated-to-the-oldies-station way. We mean that these two musicians are classics, exemplars of their genres. Petty proved cool even at the Super Bowl halftime show — no small feat. And Winwood's blue-eyed soul is, at its best, legendary. Those who know Winwood only from smirky references to songs like "Higher Love" should expand their view by seeing the performer in person. Petty and Winwood take the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater stage on Thursday, August 7. Tickets are $35.50 to $105.
Best Place to See Willie Nelson: The charming, unparalleled Willie Nelson would give a great performance anywhere. Heck, we'd go see Willie at a Greyhound bus station or in the middle of a hailstorm. But to see this American legend in the gorgeous confines of the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-1678 or www.fabulousfox.com)? That's a truly amazing opportunity. As might be expected by those who've followed the man's career, onstage Nelson is humble, funny and unfailingly generous. Buy your ticket to this Saturday, June 14, show as soon as possible. Tickets are $38 to $53.
Most Likely Place to Run into Your College Roommate: Dude. Bro. On Saturday, June 7, the Dave Matthews Band is playing at Busch Stadium (Broadway and Poplar Street), along with the Black Crowes. While both of these groups sometimes get an unfair rep as "frat bands" (and yes, we just made the same joke ourselves), they deserve more respect because each puts on a heck of a show. Matthews and his talented cadre of multi-instrumentalists were doing world-fusion rock before it became fashionable, and the Southern crunch of the Black Crowes is undeniably appealing. (Also appealing is our own imaginary version of this show, where Mike Shannon provides color commentary: "Dave Matthews, heh-heh-heh!") Tickets are $45 to $65.
Most Efficient Way to Worry Mom: Overheard on Friday, June 13: "Hi, Ma. Oh, no, I won't be home for dinner tonight. Meatloaf? That does sound good, but I have plans. I'm going to see some music. No, not Kenny G or the Manhattan Transfer. I'm going to see, um, Hatebreed. Yes. HATEBREED. They rock. Been rocking for like fifteen years, in fact, and I'm stoked to go see — What? Oh, no, they're not the only ones playing. Who else? Conquest. And Type O Negative. Yes, that's the name of a band. And 3 Inches of Blood is playing, too. Mom? Are you there? No, don't call Aunt Laura and ask if I've turned my life over to Satan. I just like good, fast, loud music. Going to Pop's (1403 Mississippi Avenue, Sauget, Illinois; 618-274-6720 or www.popsrocks.com) now. Love you." (Just in case Mom asks, tickets are $25.)
Best Chance to See a Rising Star: For the past couple years, British music journalists have heralded the work of Kate Walsh. The young singer-songwriter follows in the footsteps of founding mothers Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos, and her sound is informed by extensive classical study. Don't miss the opportunity to see her beautiful, affecting live show — you have the chance Sunday, June 1, at the Duck Room (6504 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-727-4444 or www.blueberryhill.com). Singer-songwriter Brandi Shearer opens for Walsh. Tickets are $10.
Best Opportunity to Show Off Your Boot-Scootin' Boogie: You remember how to boot-scoot. Yes, you do. Don't lie. Instead, dust off those '90s line-dancing skills and head to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, where mega-platinum country act Brooks & Dunn takes the stage on Saturday, May 31. The duo's fame peaked a while back, but they're still great performers who helped country music reach mainstream audiences. Talented young'un Kellie Pickler proves there's life after a sixth-place American Idol finish, and handsome Tennessee crooner Rodney Atkins rounds out the bill. Tickets are $34 to $58.75.