Summer in west central Florida. The population goes down and the temperatures, humidity and precipitation levels rise. The choice of fun outdoor events to attend lessens as well.
But summer is the peak season for national concert tours, and most of them stop somewhere within easy reach of Bradenton. Unfortunately, some of the biggest and best are at outside venues, so they can be kind of uncomfortable, especially before the sun goes down.
This looks to be a particularly strong summer for concerts. Here are 10 of the most promising pop. rock, hip-hop and country shows coming up in the next three months.
Steely Dan and Steve Winwood
The Dan was great when they played with Elvis Costello at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre last year, so it’ll be great to see them again. This time the opener is Winwood. Sure, he’s done a lot of uninspired top-40 solo stuff, but in his days with Traffic he made some of the most innovative music of the late ’60s and early ’70s. The concert is June 30 at the same venue.
Vans Warped Tour
OK, this one’s going to be uncomfortably hot, no way around it. It’s outdoors July 1 at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, where there’s very little shade. But it’ll be huge fun. And it’s not just for kids. Bradenton’s We the Kings are among the dozens of bands on the lineup. Other name acts are Bullet for My Valentine, Good Charlotte, Less Than Jake, Sum 41, Reel Big Fish and New Found Glory. And there are always lots of great bands you’ve never heard of waiting for you to discover them.
They were the bright spot in an ill-advised and generally disastrous outdoor multi-band concert last August on a Pinellas County Beach. Now they’re back for a more traditional show at the Mahaffey Theater on July 5. The entire original lineup is together and reportedly in fine form.
Dave Matthews Band
A lot of people don’t get the appeal of Dave Matthews’ music. But he has a huge loyal following, he still packs big venues with his live shows and even his detractors have to admit his band has some serious talent. July 27, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre.
The Miami native who’s the best-dressed man (and one of the biggest stars) in contemporary hip-hop will be at Amalie Arena in Tampa on July 30.
Hank Williams Jr. and Chris Stapleton
One of the biggest stars in country music over the past half-century (Hank Williams Jr.) comes to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre Aug. 5 with the hottest country star of the past couple of years (Chris Stapleton). If you like country music you’ve got to love at least one of these guys, and probably both.
Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon and Tesla
Some of the most popular bands from the stadium rock era, and from the days when MTV played music videos, team up for the biggest classic rock tour of the summer. They’ll be at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Aug. 15.
You may disagree with their politics, and they’re not backing down even in the face of death threats. They started this tour playing “Goodbye Earl” in front of a huge photo of Donald Trump with devil horns and a goatee drawn on his face. But if you don’t mind that, you’ll know the Chicks are still one of greatest bands in the world, and their live shows rock. Politics don’t dominate the concerts, so even if you’re a Trump fan you might enjoy the music. They’ll be at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Aug. 19.
It’s great that he’s touring again, and it’s great that he’s making frequent stops in this area. He’ll be at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota Sept. 11 and at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg two days later. By all accounts, his shows are phenomenal, and this time he’s celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Pet Sounds” album by playing the entire album. He’s joined by long-time Beach Boy Al Jardine and short-time Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin.
Sometimes he acts like a jerk. In fact, a lot of times he acts like a jerk. So he’s a jerk. But Kanye West has made some of the best hip-hop that’s ever been made, and he’s had a career that’s lasted for 20 years. That’s 20 times longer than a lot of big hip-hop artists last. He’ll be at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Sept. 14.