Summer Is Ready

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We're on the verge of my favorite time of year for seeing live music. I love driving to shows with the windows down and the sun setting. Indianapolis comes alive in its own weird way in this blurry space between spring and summer. Diners, concert-goers and barflies use the sidewalks to get around -- so many that you have to make room for them if you walk anywhere. And everyone seems a little bit cooler or nicer or more ready to have a good time than they did last fall.

As they always seem to do, show bookers and promoters have lined up some great acts that have me excited for the next several weeks of live music. Big, national-level tours and strong showings from locals combine to create a mini-season full of must-see performances at some of the best venues. So, to share in my giddiness, here are my picks for May, June and just a moment in July that you should ink into your calendar now. 

Baths.  - COURTESY OF BATHS
  • Courtesy of Baths
  • Baths.

Baths with Young Fathers and P. Morris
May 8 at 8 p.m. at The Vogue

Will Wiesenfeld, an electronic musician who uses unusual samples -- from clicking pens to rustling blankets -- and falsetto vocals, performs as Baths. It's chill-wave gone weird. Weirder yet, but no less intriguing? Opening band Young Fathers performs alternative Scottish hip-hop.

Vacation Club Record Release with Oreo Jones and Shame Thugs
May 9 at 9 p.m. at The White Rabbit Cabaret

Lo-fi energizers Vacation Club are releasing a new album on Magnetic South, and to mark the occasion, they're having a party and selling some records. With songs that always sound like a slightly sticky party, this should be a fun show. 

Time for Three with DJ Helicon Happy Hour at the Symphony
May 15 at 5 p.m. (doors) at Hilbert Circle Theatre

Classically trained, culturally diverse, Time for Three plans to conduct some mash-up songs including U2 hits and themes from Stravinsky's Firebird. Zach de Pue, part of the trio and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster, is the real deal and maybe one of the best musicians this town has ever seen.

Kansas Bible Company with Pork 'n' Beans Brass Band
May 16 at 9 p.m. at Radio Radio

The Kansas Bible Company is 12 guys: five-man horn line, three guitars, two percussionists, one bass and keys. Originally from Goshen, they now live in Nashville, Tennessee. Pork 'n' Beans Brass Band, a local crew that performs New Orleans-style music, may be the openers, but I'd pay the price of admission just to see them. It's going to be a horny night in Fountain Square.

Tyler Damon, Kristin Newborn, Jacob Gardner and Verma
May 16 at 10 p.m. at General Public Collective

This is a solid bill with some of Indianapolis' best performers. Kristin Newborn, known for her work as KO and with White Moms, is a fierce performer with a powerful voice. Jacob Gardner's band Raw McCartney makes arguably the best noisy psych songs the city has heard -- and I've heard many attempts over many years. Add in some solo percussion craziness, courtesy of Tyler Damon, and this show is an undeniable sonic adventure.

Sleigh Bells.  - COURTESY OF SLEIGH BELLS
  • Courtesy of Sleigh Bells
  • Sleigh Bells.

Sleigh Bells with Yvette
June 14 at 9 p.m. at The Vogue

Sleigh Bells returns to Indy with the band's unique blend of super loud, noisy guitar riffs, heavy drum machine beats and pop-laden, acrobatic vocals. Ironically, opening act Yvette could be described much the same way, but they sound completely different. It will be loud.

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic
June 26 at 9 p.m. at The Vogue

No artist in the history of popular music has ever been described by so many writers and radio DJs with such ridiculous language as George Clinton. I'm sure we'll see another round of overly funk-inspired cant when he brings his traveling circus of a show to Indianapolis this summer for a stop on his final tour.

An Evening with Billy Joe Shaver
July 2 at 9 p.m. at Radio Radio

The list of music greats that have performed Shaver's songs over the last five decades includes Elvis, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Waylon Jennings, The Allman Brothers Band, Willie Nelson and Scott Walker. Johnny Cash called him his favorite songwriter. There aren't a lot of chances left in the world to see a true legend of outlaw country music perform in the flesh.

Dick Dale with the Madeira
July 22 at 6:30 p.m. at The Melody Inn

More than just the "The King of Surf Guitar," Dick Dale is one of the most influential guitar players ever. At 76 years old, he still shreds, and he'll be here for a rare and intimate performance at the Historic Melody Inn.

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