Your senses become heightened in the summertime. Normal activities that you do throughout the year are somehow sweeter, more intense and more memorable in the warm, sticky embrace of a St. Louis summer. Just as a cold beer tastes infinitely better when gulped in the bleachers of Busch Stadium, live music takes on its own character when heard outside. Outdoor shows bring a certain communal vibe that you can't find in the dark of a rock club. Luckily, there are plenty of chances to grab a big blanket, a handful of friends and lots of sunscreen.The Post Performances
(North Ninth and Locust streets)
Third Saturday of each month, May 22 through August 21
As directors of the Luminary Center for the Arts near Tower Grove Park, James and Brea McAnally have brought inspired pairings of art and music to their gallery space. Now, in time for summer, the pair takes the show outside for the Post Performances series. On the third Saturday of each month, local visual and musical artists will pair off in the Old Post Office Plaza.
The free-of-charge series begins May 22 with the genre-blurring folk quartet Theodore and artist B.j. Vogt. On June 19 retro-leaning hip-hop producer Phaseone squares off with computer artist Daniel Shown. July 17 features hip-hop's Black Spade and woodcut/silkscreen maker Alexander Petrowsky. The series ends August 21 with soul-powered rockers Jon Hardy & the Public and artists Dave Land and Andy van der Tuin.
Missouri Botanical Garden
(4344 Shaw Boulevard)
Every Wednesday, June 2 through August 4
Few festivals are as enduring and well loved at the Whitaker Music Festival. Looking at the formula, it's not hard to see why: free admission to the Missouri Botanical Garden + picnic-style ambience among the flora + high-quality, homegrown jazz, rock and soul = a sure bet. Droves of patrons flock to the garden each Wednesday beginning in June, and once you find a parking space, the urban oasis becomes an ideal spot for drinking, dancing and socializing. This year's lineup is as strong as ever, featuring jazz diva Denise Thimes (June 2), pianist Peter Martin (June 16), jazz-fusion act Dawn & the Electro Funk Assembly (June 30) and Peter Mayer's Beatles tribute act, Beyond Abbey Road (July 21). Admission is free after 5 p.m., and the music begins at 7:30 p.m. 2010 RFT Music Showcase
Saturday, June 5
Far be it from us to toot our own horn, but the RFT's annual music showcase has long been a one-stop shop to experience the finest local rock, hip-hop, soul, folk and jazz music. We may throw the party, but we can take no credit for the city's wealth of talent. This year marks a change for the festival: Instead of overrunning the Delmar Loop, scores of local acts will take over the restaurants and clubs of Washington Avenue, including Lola, Flamingo Bowl and the Dubliner. While much of the action takes place at night, there will be two outdoor, all-ages stages throughout the afternoon (located at 11th Street and Washington Avenue and 14th Street and Washington Avenue). Admission to the outdoor stages is free, and all-access wristbands for the club shows are $5. Watch this space (and our music blog, A to Z) for a forthcoming list of and performers. Fair Saint Louis
Saturday and Sunday, July 3 and 4
The Arch grounds
What better way to celebrate our nation's independence than with several thousand of your fellow citizens at Fair Saint Louis? Fireworks and funnel cakes are always a big draw, but this year, organizers outdid themselves with the musical talent. Bringing tenderly sung soul songs to the Budweiser Main Stage on the banks of the Mississippi, John Legend headlines on July 3. And, when it comes down to it, is there a more American band than the B-52s? What other country could have created Fred Schneider's sui generis vocal tics or inspired those high-flying bouffant hairdos? The Fourth of July is America's party, and the B-52s is America's party band. Admission is free. Lilith Fair
Friday, July 16
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
14141 Riverfront Drive, Maryland Heights
Remember the glut of traveling music festivals that invaded outdoor venues in the mid-'90s? Those halcyon days are here again. Lollapalooza, the granddaddy of them all, has been successfully rebooted as a destination festival in Chicago, and now Lilith Fair, Sarah McLachlan's girl-powered fest, has been revamped for a new generation. In addition to McLachlan, such diverse acts as R&B queen Mary J. Blige, folk priestess Emmylou Harris, electro-tinged rockers Metric and Idol-approved powerhouse Kelly Clarkson will be performing. Lawn tickets start at $47.50, and seats underneath Verizon's big metal shed start at $57.50 and go up to $258. The Eagles with the Dixie Chicks
Thursday, June 24
(Broadway and Poplar Street)
Why does "stadium rock" get such a bad rap? In the larger-than-life world of rock & roll, such seat-filling, flash-pot-igniting excess is really just a celebration of rock's largesse. The old Busch Stadium had its share of legendary shows — from the Beatles in 1966 to U2 in 1992 — and the Dave Matthews Band inaugurated the new stadium in 2008. The Eagles, those country-rock lifers known for close harmonies and the occasional heartbreaking ballad, may not be the most obvious choice for a stadium show, but it's a good bet that the group's best hits — "Take It Easy," "Heartache Tonight" and "Lyin' Eyes" — will lead to massive sing-alongs throughout the ballpark. The Dixie Chicks, another band unafraid to mix country harmonies and liberal politics, will open the show. This tour marks the return of the Dixie Chicks to the road after several years' hiatus. Tickets range from $50 to $295. LouFest
Saturday and Sunday, August 28 and 29
(Highway 40 and Hampton Avenue)
The big news throughout the beginning of this year was the announcement that St. Louis would be getting its own weekend-long festival. Modeled after the successful Pitchfork Music Festival held annually in Chicago, LouFest aims to be a destination festival that brings together topnotch indie rock and some of our best local acts. Saturday's lineup features Canadian superpower Broken Social Scene, celebrated skewed-rock innovators Built to Spill and New Jersey-based rabble-rousers Titus Andronicus. On Sunday Wilco leader (and Belleville native) Jeff Tweedy will be playing a solo set, his first in St. Louis, and adorable retro-pop duo She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward) will likewise make their debut as headliners. The two-day festival will take place in Forest Park's Central Field (home of the Forest Park Balloon Glow), and tickets are $38 per day or $64 for a two-day pass.