Summer Concert Preview

Summer is the best time to experience the transporting power of live music -- especially at outdoor festivals. With the sun above, good food, drinks and fun-loving friends around you, the summer concert experience becomes indelible. This year, there will be plenty of opportunities to indulge your love for live music under the sun (though the offerings in air-conditioned arenas aren't too shabby, either) as some of the hottest names in pop, rock and R&B; blow through the area. Here are a few shows you don't want to miss.

Death Cab For Cutie -- Merriweather Post Pavilion, June 9


The alt-rock band, whose pop breakthrough came with the release of 2005's Plans, topped Billboard's albums chart last week with its latest CD, Narrow Stairs. The album is a starker, more dissonant follow-up to its gleaming, platinum-selling predecessor. On the set, it's also evident that the quartet, which first received mass exposure in 2003 on the teen soap opera The O.C., is still a restless bunch of musicians. The guys stretch their sound on the new record, coloring it with darker shades here and there. With its evocative arrangements and novelistic lyrical melancholia, Narrow Stairs is one of DCFC's stronger efforts and should translate well on stage.

R.E.M. -- Merriweather Post Pavilion, June 11


On Accelerate, the progressive '80s rock band finally returned to a sound evocative of its glory years. The CD, released in April, is focused and blistering with guitar blasts, defined grooves and Michael Stipe's straight-no-chaser lyrics and urgent vocals. The record doesn't displace the nervy rock of R.E.M.'s early years. That was another place and time. But Accelerate is still a welcome burst of energy, something the guys haven't shown in a while. It's a major step up from the utter lifelessness of the group's last studio album, 2004's Around the Sun. R.E.M. actually sounds like a solid unit on Accelerate. Maybe that'll come across on stage.

Alicia Keys -- 1st Mariner Arena, June 15

In a career that's barely a decade old, Alicia Keys has become one of the most celebrated artists of her generation. The native New Yorker owns 11 Grammys and four multiplatinum albums. Her latest CD -- As I Am, released in November -- was yet another immediate smash, spawning the across-the-board No. 1 hit "No One." The album is perhaps her most ambitious effort, expanding the scope of her "neo-soul" approach. Guest appearances include rockers John Mayer and Linda Perry.

But with stiff, laughably simplistic choreography, Keys' stage show can be corny at times. (She's no Janet Jackson, that's for sure.) The artist is at her best when she's sitting at the piano, banging and belting away. Let's hope there's more of that on this tour.

Vans Warped Tour -- Merriweather Post Pavilion, July 16

In keeping with the tradition of the 13-year-old music and extreme-sports event, the promoters of the alt-rock and pop festival have packed the day with budding and established bands.

The mile-long list of acts includes Angels and Airwaves, Gym Class Heroes, Every Time I Die, Relient K, Say Anything and As I Lay Dying. The Vans Warped Tour, like any other music festival, is very much about vitalizing the communal energy with exciting sounds. And the high-octane music is sure to induce lots of slam-dancing.

Donna Summer -- Pier Six Concert Pavilion, July 16


"The queen is back," Summer declares in a cut off her new CD, Crayons. Released last week, the album is her first set of new songs in nearly 20 years. The Queen of Disco, 59, certainly isn't in "MacArthur Park" anymore as she belts over sleek, propulsive tracks glittered with neon synths. Although the album is a mixed bag, Summer's voice is still a powerful, incredibly versatile instrument. The youthful vibrancy she brought to her greatest hits -- "Bad Girls," "Hot Stuff," "She Works Hard for the Money" and others -- hasn't diminished a bit. Although several of the new songs are well-performed, they can't touch the classics. At the show, I'm sure Summer fans will want to hear more of the old than the new.

Virgin Mobile Festival -- Pimlico Race Track, Aug. 9 and 10

Its third year in Baltimore, the two-day event is quickly becoming one of the hottest tickets on the national summer festival circuit. This year's lineup is perhaps the strongest with an array of acts from classic rock to progressive pop, and just about everything in between.

The headliners include the pioneering Chuck Berry, the legendary Bob Dylan, the egomaniacal but often interesting Kanye West and the moody Nine Inch Nails. Jack Johnson, Lupe Fiasco, Cat Power, the Foo Fighters and Wilco round out the list of marquee names. But still, there's more: Classic hard rock will be represented by Iggy Pop and the Stooges. Lil' Wayne will hold it down for hard-edged hip-hop. And funky retro-soul receives a fine ambassador in Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Others to catch include the charming KT Tunstall and the much-buzzed-about British pop-soul newcomer Duffy.

Anita Baker -- Pier Six Pavilion, Aug. 15

Last year's Paetec Jazz Festival, which spanned three days, has been refocused. It's now the Paetec Music Tour with stops in four other cities, including Chicago and Dallas. The "festival" has also been reduced to one day in Baltimore. The sole headliner is multi-Grammy winner Anita Baker, who staged a successful comeback after a 10-year hiatus with 2004's gold-selling My Everything.


Back in the '80s, the jazzy R&B; singer-songwriter was a fixture on urban-pop radio with such hits as "Sweet Love," "Giving You the Best That I Got" and "Just Because." A notorious perfectionist, Baker's shows these days are more relaxed and casual. Her velvety alto, more powerful and expressive today than it was in the '80s, has aged well. Baker's lush love songs and sultry crooning seem to be a fitting close to the outdoor summer concert experience.

Concert highlights


May 29 -- Clinic, Sonar

May 29 -- Cold Taxi, Recher


May 29 -- Filter, 9:30 Club

May 29 -- Pete Best Band, RHT

May 30 -- Bruce in the USA, RHL

May 30 -- Fire in the Hole, Sonar

May 30 -- Danity Kane, Pier Six

May 30 -- She Wants Revenge, 9:30 Club


May 30 -- Strange Design, Recher

May 31 -- Bill Kreutzmann, Recher

May 31 -- Bruce in the USA, RHT

May 31 -- Stugottz, Sonar

May 31 -- Sugarland, Nissan



June 1 -- Her Last Words, Recher

June 1 -- Ryan Cabrera, RHL

June 1 -- Will Dailey & Keaton Simons, RHT

June 2 -- Bonerama, RHT

June 2 -- Filter, RHL

June 3 -- Bell X1, 9:30 Club


June 3 -- David Ryan Harris, RHT

June 3 -- Dead Confederate, Sonar

June 4 -- Squirrel Nut Zippers, RHT

June 5 -- Blondie, RHL

June 5 -- Salvages Souls, Recher

June 5 -- Soja, Rebelution, 9:30 Club


June 6 -- Adrian Belew, RHT

June 6 -- Capital Jazz Fest, Merriweather

June 6 -- Downcycle, Ninetail, RHL

June 6 -- The Duprees, Four Lads, Four Aces, Lenny Welch, Lyric

June 6 -- Lansdowne, Sonar

June 6 -- Lisa Loeb, Recher


June 7 -- Bill Kirchen, RHT

June 7 -- Capital Jazz Fest, Merriweather

June 7 -- Jakob Dylan, 9:30 Club

June 7 -- Limelight, Recher

June 7 -- Rilo Kiley, RHL

June 7 -- True Colors tour, featuring Cyndi Lauper, the B-52s, Regina Spektor and Tegan & Sara, Constitution


June 8 -- Capital Jazz Fest, Merriweather

June 8 -- Deana Carter, RHT

June 8 -- Shawty Lo, Sonar

June 8 -- Swervedriver, 9:30 Club

June 8 -- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Nissan

June 8 -- The Trip, Recher


June 9 -- Death Cab for Cutie, Merriweather

June 9 -- The Felice Brothers, RHT

June 10 -- Lil' Wayne, 1st Mariner

June 10 -- Mark Bryan, RHT

June 11 -- The Breeders, 9:30 Club

June 11 -- Guy Clark, RHT


June 11 -- R.E.M., Merriweather

June 12 -- Jamie Lidell, 9:30 Club

June 12 -- Remember the City, Recher

June 12 -- Strawbs, RHT

June 13 -- Alicia Keys, Verizon

June 13 -- Acoustic Alchemy, RHT


June 13 -- Chase, Recher

June 13 -- Earth Daze, Sonar

June 13 -- Melissa Ferrick, 9:30 Club

June 13 -- Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Merriweather

June 13 -- Toad the Wet Sprocket, RHL

June 14 -- Battles, 9:30 Club


June 14 -- The Legwarmers, RHL

June 14 -- Skitzo Calypso, Recher

June 14 -- Willie Nile, RHT

June 15 -- Alicia Keys, 1st Mariner

June 15 -- Cyrus Chestnut, RHT

June 15 -- Jose Gonzalez, 9:30 Club


June 15 -- Spill Canvas, Recher

June 15 -- Tim McGraw, Nissan

June 16 -- Pink Spiders, Sonar

June 16 -- Tab Benoit, RHT

June 17 -- Ayo, RHT

June 17 -- TheDeathSet, Sonar


June 17 -- Natasha Bedingfield, RHL

June 18-19 -- Dickey Betts & Great Southern, RHT

June 18 -- Dilated Peoples, RHL

June 18 -- Iron Maiden, Merriweather

June 18 -- White Tie Affair, Sonar

June 19 -- Dark Lotus, RHL


June 19 -- Ingrid Michaelson, Recher

June 20 -- Absence, Sonar

June 20 -- David Sanborn, RHT

June 20 -- Hil St. Soul & Ayo, 9:30 Club

June 20 -- Mike McFadden, Recher

June 20 -- Rooney, RHL


June 21 -- Hotbox, Pasadena, RHL

June 21 -- Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly, Pier Six

June 21 -- Pat Mahoney, Will Eastman, 9:30 Club

June 21 -- Robben Ford, RHT

June 21 -- Skanoah Irie, Recher

June 22 -- Another Secret Told, Recher


June 22 -- Fish, 9:30 Club

June 22 -- Michael Franks, RHT

June 22 -- Pearl Jam, Verizon

June 23 -- Demon Hunter, Recher

June 23 -- Goldfinger, RHL

June 23 -- Mandrill, RHT


June 24 -- Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo, RHL

June 24 -- Shawn Colvin, RHT

June 25 -- Lizz Wright, RHT

June 25 -- Melissa Etheridge, Constitution

June 25 -- Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine, 9:30 Club

June 26 -- Butthole Surfers, 9:30 Club


June 26 -- Dethklok, RHL

June 26 -- Somber Tones, Recher

June 26 -- Teop, Mully Man, Clayway, Comp, Skarr-Akbar, Sonar

June 26 -- Tift Merritt, RHT

June 27 -- Alice Peacock, Josh Joplin, RHT

June 27 -- Hold Steady, RHL


June 27 -- Ladytron, Sonar

June 27 -- Pat Green, 9:30 Club

June 28 -- Dave Matthews Band, Nissan

June 28 -- emmet swimming, 9:30 Club

June 28 -- Inkarnit, Recher

June 28 -- Jay & the Americans, RHT


June 28 -- The Queers, Sonar

June 28 -- Thievery Corporation, SueJorge, TV on the Radio, Ladytron, Turntables on the Hudson, Federico Aubele, Merriweather

June 29 -- Brooke Fraser, RHT

June 29 -- Raheem DeVaughn, Chrisette Michele, Merriweather

June 29 -- Two Weeks Straight, Recher

June 30 -- Neville Brothers, RHT


June 30 -- Peter Murphy, RHL


July 1 -- Cute is What We Aim For, 9:30 Club

July 1 -- Rickie Lee Jones, RHT

July 2 -- Coldplay, Verizon

July 3 -- Doc Hochman's Patriotic Dixieband, RHT


July 3 -- Lyle Lovett, Pier Six

July 3 -- A Nameless Desire, Recher

July 5 -- Beretta Jane, Of Broken, Forgive the Fallen, Outreach, Recher

July 5 -- John Hiatt and the Ageless Beauties, RHT

July 6 -- Backdraft, Recher

July 6 -- Leela James, RHT


July 7 -- Seun Kuti, Egypt 80, 9:30 Club

July 9 -- Dropkick Murphys, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Merriweather

July 10 -- No Room for Regrets, Recher

July 11 -- Alkaline Trio, RHL

July 11 -- Bo Bice, Recher

July 12 -- Art Sherrod, RHT


July 12 -- Brad Paisley, Jewel, Chuck Wicks, Julianne Hough, Nissan

July 12 -- Crack the Sky, Recher

July 11 -- "Weird Al" Yankovic, Pier Six

July 13 -- "Crue Fest," featuring Motley Crue, Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Sixx:A.M. and Trapt, Nissan

July 13 -- John Mayer, Merriweather

July 14 -- Shelby Lynne, RHT


July 15 -- Beth Nielsen Chapman, RHT

July 16 -- Amos Lee, RHT

July 16 -- Bow Wow, RHL

July 16 -- Donna Summer, Pier Six

July 16 -- Vans Warped Tour, Merriweather

July 17 -- Steve Miller Band, Merriweather


July 18-19 -- All Time Low, Hit the Lights, Valencia, There for Tomorrow, RHL

July 18 -- Bow Wow, Ray J., Constitution

July 18 -- Phil Vassar, Pier Six

July 19 -- Ballyhoo, Recher

July 19 -- Oleta Adams, RHT

July 19 -- Rush, Nissan


July 19 -- "Volunteer Jam," featuring Charlie Daniels Band, .38 Special and Shooter Jennings, Pier Six

July 20 -- Jeff Lorber, RHT

July 20 -- Mickey Hart Band, RHL

July 20 -- Teddy Geiger, Recher

July 20 -- 311, Snoop Dogg, Nissan

July 21 -- Cavalera Conspiracy, RHL


July 21 -- Dave Mason, RHT

July 22 -- Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush, RHT

July 23 -- Ian Tyson, RHT

July 23 -- Rose Funeral, Sonar

July 24 -- Radney Foster, RHT

July 25 -- Greg Adams, RHT


July 25 -- Halo of Locusts, Anubis, Beyond the Scar, Burn the Fields, Tolerance for Tragedy, Inkarnit, Sonar

July 25 -- Matt Costa, Recher

July 26 -- Deanna Bogart Band, RHT

July 26 -- Dru Hill, featuring Sisqo, RHL

July 26 -- O.A.R., Merriweather

July 26 -- Rascal Flatts, Nissan


July 26 -- "Roots Rock Reggae Festival," featuring Ziggy and Stephen Marley, Pier Six

July 27 -- Leo Kottke, RHT

July 27 -- "Projekt Revolution," featuring Linkin Park, Chris Cornell, the Bravery and more, Nissan

July 27 -- "Rock the Bells," featuring A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Mos Def, De La Soul, Rakim, Method Man, Redman, Raekwon & Ghostface, Immortal Technique, Dead Prez, Murs, Spank Rock, Kid Sister, Jay Electronic, Wale, B.O.B., Kidz in the Hall, Amanda Blank, Santogold and The Pharcyde, Merriweather

July 27 -- STS9, Umphrey's McGee, Pier Six

July 28 -- Tommy Castro, RHT


July 29 -- George Michael, Verizon

July 29 -- Jimmie Dale Gilmore, RHT

July 29 -- Yes, Pier Six

July 30 -- Badfish, RHL

July 30 -- Southern Culture on the Skids, RHT

July 31 -- Poison, Nissan


July 31 -- Vesta Williams, RHT


Aug. 1 -- Young Dubliners, RHT

Aug. 2 -- Diane Schuur, RHT

Aug. 2 -- Extreme, RHL

Aug. 3 -- Gladys Knight, the Dells, Pier Six


Aug. 4 -- Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al DiMeola, Merriweather

Aug. 4 -- The Yardbirds, RHT

Aug. 5 -- Live, Collective Soul, Blues Traveler, Pier Six

Aug. 5 -- Neil Diamond, Verizon

Aug. 7 -- Joe Piscopo Sextet, RHT

Aug. 7 -- "Metal Masters Tour," featuring Judas Priest, Heaven & Hell, Motorhead and Testament, Nissan


Aug. 9 -- Doug E Fresh, Slick Rick, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Whodini, Pier Six

Aug. 9 -- Toby Keith, Montgomery Gentry, Nissan

Aug. 9-10 -- "Virgin Festival," featuring the Foo Fighters, Jack Johnson, Offspring, Wilco, Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, Stone Temple Pilots, Bob Dylan and others, Pimlico

Aug. 10 -- Limeliters, RHT

Aug. 12 -- Hootie & the Blowfish, Pier Six

Aug. 13 -- Boston, Styx, Pier Six


Aug. 14 -- Steep Canyon Rangers, RHT

Aug. 15 -- Anita Baker, Pier Six

Aug. 15 -- California Transit Authority, RHT

Aug. 15 -- Peter Frampton, RHL

Aug. 16 -- Counting Crows, Maroon 5, Nissan

Aug. 16 -- "Hot August Blues & Roots Festival," featuring John Hiatt, Marcia Ball and Bonerama, Oregon Ridge


Aug. 16 -- Soulive, Lettuce, RHL

Aug. 17 -- G. Love and Special Sauce, Pier Six

Aug. 17 -- Slipknot, Disturbed, Dragonforce, Mastodon, Underoath and Machine Head, Nissan

Aug. 17 -- Suede, RHT

Aug. 18 -- Jonas Brothers, Nissan

Aug. 19 -- George Thorogood, Buddy Guy, Pier Six


Aug. 19 -- Suzanne Vega, RHT

Aug. 21 -- Leon Redbone, RHT

Aug. 21 -- Puddle of Mudd, RHL

Aug. 22 -- Billy Bob Thornton, RHT

Aug. 23 -- Robert Cray Band, Keb Mo Band, Pier Six

Aug. 24 -- Rod Stewart, Nissan


Aug. 24 -- Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, Pier Six

Aug. 25 -- Xiu Xiu, Carla Bozulich's Evangelista, Sonar

Aug. 26 -- Ted Nugent, RHL

Aug. 27 -- Beres Hammond, RHL

Aug. 27 -- Journey, Heart, Cheap Trick, Nissan

Aug. 27 -- Mindi Abair, RHT


Aug. 28 -- The Motels, RHT

Aug. 30 -- Slim Man, RHT


Constitution -- DAR Constitution Hall, 18th and D streets Northwest, Washington, 410-547-7328, tick

1st Mariner -- 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., 410-547-7328,

Lyric -- Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave., 410-547-7328, tick


Merriweather -- Merriweather Post Pavilion, Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, 410-547-7328, tick

9:30 Club -- The 9:30 Club, 815 V St. N.W., Washington, 800-955-5566,

Nissan -- Nissan Pavilion at Stone Ridge, Bristow, Va., 410-547-7328, tick

Oregon Ridge -- Oregon Ridge Park, 13401 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville, 877-321-3378, hot

Pier Six -- Pier Six Pavilion, President Street and Eastern Avenue at the Inner Harbor, 410-547-7328, tick

Pimlico -- Pimlico Race Course, Hayward and Winner avenues, 410-547-7328,


RHL -- Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place, 410-244-1131, ramshead

RHT -- Rams Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis, 410-268-4545, ramshead

Recher -- Recher Theatre, 512 York Road, Towson, 410-337-7210, 410-547-7328,

Sonar -- 407 E. Saratoga St., 410-327-8333,

Verizon -- Verizon Center, 601 F St. N.W., Washington, 410-547-7328, tick