Just like food tastes better on vacation, shows are undeniably more epic when you're far from home. There's something magical about hitting the open road with a few friends, a trunk full of beer and a greatest hits mix CD, everyone full of giddy, shout-along anticipation. And while there are enough sweet outdoor concerts in Boise this summer to cast a permanent butt indent in your favorite lawn chair, there are also plenty of road trip-worthy shows within a day's driving distance. Here are some of our faves:
If you don't want to commit to a full-day drive-a-thon, Sun Valley is a suitable mini-getaway. On Wednesday, July 13, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts will present a special concert with country/folk/bluegrass stars The Avett Brothers. Comprised of brothers Scott and Seth Avett, the band is known for their rowdy, banjo-plucking, cello-bowing, bass-thumping honky-tonk live shows. Tickets are $35 for members and $40 for non-members for inside pavilion seats, and $25 for lawn seating. For more info on this and other SVCA summer concerts, visit sunvalleycenter.org.
A double-header worth cruising up to check out is The Sun Valley Shakedown, which features full sets by both Bruce Hornsby and The Noisemakers and Bela Fleck and the Original Flecktones. The show goes down on Thursday, July 28, in Sun Valley Festival Meadows and tickets are $48 for general admission, or $125 for VIP Entry, which includes reserved parking, reserved seating, VIP restroom access and a commemorative poster. For more info, visit sunvalleyshakedown.com. Register to win tickets at boiseweekly.com, click on Promo.
Not only is Bend, Ore., a relatively quick six-hour jaunt from Boise, it's also home to the beer-licious Deschutes Brewery. Coming up super soon--Friday, May 27--the Les Schwab Amphitheater will boast an all-star indie-pop lineup with fey legends Death Cab for Cutie, moody heartbreakers Bright Eyes and Jenny and Johnny, which features radiant songstress Jenny Lewis. If you've been inconsolable after hearing that Bright Eyes pulled out from its Boise performance at the Knitting Factory, here's an opportunity to fill your Conor Oberst cup with an added shot of Ben Gibbard for only $35.
Also coming up at the Les Schwab Amphitheater on Saturday, July 2, is a special show with alt-rock satirists Ween. Though they only had two moderately successful singles in the early '90s--"Push th' Little Daisies" and "Voodoo Lady"--Dean and Gene Ween have established a considerable cult fanbase. Tickets are $34 rain or shine, no refunds. For more info on either show, visit bendconcerts.com.
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville, Wash.
Located on a lush 105-acre morsel of land 15 miles outside of Seattle, Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington's oldest winery. But the chateau serves up more than chardonnay: It also offers a slick summer concert series. In addition to a performance by frat-boy staple the Steve Miller Band on Saturday, July 16, and a double-whammy with YES and Styx on Friday, July 29, Chateau Ste. Michelle will also host Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges on Sunday, Aug. 28. Bridges will perform songs from his critically lauded 2009 film Crazy Heart. The show is $37.50 general admission or $75 for reserved seating.
Another late-summer sizzler takes place on Saturday, Sept. 10, with The B-52s and The Human League. Tickets are $35 GA or $65 reserved, and available at ticketmaster.com.
Pickathon, Portland, Ore.
If indie folk and sustainable camping is more your bag, head out to Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Ore., for the annual Pickathon, which runs from Friday, Aug. 5, through Sunday, Aug. 7. Pickathon features more than 35 bands on five stages on an 80-acre farm located only 20 minutes outside of Portland, Ore. Bands slated to perform this year include Black Mountain, Bill Callahan, Thao, Vetiver, Wye Oak, Damien Jurado, The Builders and The Butchers, Laura Veirs and more. Weekend pass tickets are $145 and include free tent camping. For more info, visit pickathon.com.
The Gorge Amphitheater, george, Wash.
Though tickets have long been sold out to Sasquatch, the Gorge's annual indie shitshow, there are a few other ways to gorge yourself on music surrounded by panoramic views this summer. On Saturday, July 2, godfathers of prog rock Rush will perform for rabid fans. Tickets are $98.55-$135.50 with fees and available at ticketmaster.com. On Saturday, July 30, seminal grunge rockers Soundgarden will perform with Queens Of The Stone Age, Mastodon and Meat Puppets. Tickets are $85.50, including fees and available at livenation.com. Capping things off at the Gorge is the Dave Matthews Band Caravan. In addition to full sets by DMB, this year's three-day festival, which runs Sept. 2-4, will also feature performances by The Roots, Gogol Bordello, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Blind Pilot and Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band. Three-day tickets are $195 and can be purchased at dmbcaravan.com.
TBA Summer Concerts
As of press time, there are a few summer concert fests that have yet to announce their lineups. Salt Lake City's free Twilight Concert Series--which takes place every Thursday from July 14-Aug. 25 at 5 p.m.--is slated to announce its lineup on Thursday, May 26. Seattle's Bumbershoot, which will go down Sept. 3-5, will announce the full music lineup on Wednesday, June 1. And finally, Portland, Ore.'s Music Fest NW--which will run from Sept. 7-11--will blab its lineup at a free launch party in Portland on Tuesday, May 31.