Upstate Beat: Concert highlights of the season ahead

Woman with guitar

Paz Lenchantin of Pixies performs live onstage at BST Hyde Park, in London in July 2022

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UPSTATE BEAT – Summer is always the busiest time of year for music in the Capital Region — at least the bigger shows, with the Saratoga Performing Arts Center season underway and scores of free concert series to choose from, big and small, including Albany’s Alive at Five and Summer at the Plaza, and the well-curated world music offerings of Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park.

It’s also a good time of year to take a little road trip to Tanglewood in the Berkshires or one of the many thriving Hudson Valley venues in places such as Kingston, Hudson or Woodstock.

With so many shows to choose from, here’s a by-no-means-comprehensive look at some highlights for the season ahead.

July 1: It’s hard to beat the combination of Elvis Costello & The Imposters and Nick Lowe, power-pop legends and two of Britain’s greatest living songwriters who appear together at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts. Pack a lawn chair and sing along to undeniable hits such as “Cruel to Be Kind” and “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding.” As if that weren’t enough, Lowe will be joined by Nashville surf-instrumental group Los Straitjackets, who stand as legends on their own.

July 3: When John Doe, frontman for Los Angeles punk rock band X, performed at The Hangar on the Hudson in Troy in late April it was one of best shows of the year. So I am more than excited to see Doe return to the area so soon with his seminal band — including co-songwriter and vocalist Exene Cervenka — for this show at Empire Live in Albany.

July 18: There are more than a handful of potential highlights at SPAC this year, but the show that intrigues me most is the double bill of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds — led by the former songwriter and lead guitarist of Oasis — with Garbage, a group that was highly enjoyable when performing at SPAC with Alanis Morissette in 2021.

July 22: Last year’s free NipperFest Music & Arts Festival was a highlight of the summer season, so it’s great to see it return to Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park for the single-day event that will showcase more than a dozen Capital Region performers on two stages, including Jocelyn & Chris, Precious Metals, Brule County Bad Boys, The Sugar Hold, Hold On Honeys, E-Block, Carolyn Shapiro, ShortWave RadioBand, Lucas Garrett and Camtron5000.

July 27: Legendary rapper Rakim, one half of Golden Age hip-hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, is widely regarded as one of the most influential and gifted rappers of all time. He was fascinating when he visited the University at Albany in 2019 as part of the Creative Life series to showcase his book “Sweat the Technique: Revelations on Creativity from The Lyrical Genius.” That was just a Q&A, so it will be great to see the MC perform to music during Alive at Five’s Hip-Hop Night.

Aug. 2: For the triple-power of this Capital Concert Series bill it’s hard to beat the Empire State Plaza appearance of “Smooth Operator” and “Ain’t No Half Steppin’ ” rapper Big Daddy Kane along with hip-hop pioneer Roxanne Shante, one of rap’s first female stars, and Black Sheep, the hip-hop group that created one of the most notable songs of the genre, “The Choice is Yours.”

Aug 24: The’s are an all-female Japanese rock band from Tokyo led by two sisters who became better known in this country when director Quentin Tarantino used their garage-rock music in “Kill Bill Vol. 1.” They make a rare and exciting upstate New York appearance later this summer at No Fun in Troy with Sit n’ Spin and The Abyssmals.

Aug. 26: This may be the Generation X show of the year when the Pixies, the influential alt-rock band that formed in 1986 and reunited in 2004, play outside at MASS MoCA’s Joe’s Field for an epic sundown show with indie-rockers Modest Mouse and indie songwriter Cat Power, all groups that were indelible in the 1990s and 2000s yet still remain vital today.

A few more to look forward to:

  • W.I.T.C.H. and Death Valley Girls at No Fun (June 6)
  • The Silos and Coal Palace Kings at the Hangar on the Hudson (June 16)
  • Dead and Company’s final tour at SPAC (June 17)
  • Laura Jane Grace with Weakened Friends at Empire Underground (June 28)
  • Tedeschi Trucks Band with Ziggy Marley at SPAC (July 1)
  • Tears for Fears with Cold War Kids (July 2)
  • Sheila E. at Empire State Plaza (July 4)
  • Goose at SPAC (July 7)
  • Cracker and the Spin Doctors (July 12)
  • Big Thief at the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston (July 19)
  • The Skatalites at Alive at Five (July 20)
  • Aimee Mann at The Egg (July 24)
  • DakhaBrakha at Lark Hall (July 26)
  • Montell Jordan at Alive at Five (Aug. 3)
  • The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band at Caffe Lena (Aug. 13)
  • Messer Chups with the Ichi-Bons and the Jagaloons at No Fun (Aug. 21)
  • Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore at The Egg (Aug. 24)
  • Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue at The Egg (Sept. 1)
  • ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd at SPAC (Sept. 8)

Contact Kirsten Ferguson at [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts

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