In this, our annual Summer Guide, we've offered some warm-weather options for improving and enriching your life. Outdoor music festivals fit that criteria perfectly, offering a little food for your soul. Treasure Valley is home to an abundance of these outdoor music fests, but regardless of whether you plan to attend the one-day blowouts for a fix or every offering in a concert series for long-term nutrition, expect temperatures to soar as high as your hopes for a good time. Don't let poor planning ruin your good time or the music you were excited to hear may be drowned out by the sweat dripping off your forehead, the moans caused by your aching feet, and the eeps of pain every time someone brushes against your sunburned bod.
We offer a rundown of a few of these music events. Some have been around a while, some are a couple of years old, and one is a brand-new concert series. We've rated their sizzle factor based on how hot we think these tickets are: lineup, location, anticipation, cost. Now, go forth and get some sustenance for your soul.
And whatever you do, don't forget sunscreen.
Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series
Dates: May 6-Sept. 7
Location: Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Road, idahobotanicalgarden.org
Cost: $35-$75 single; $300-$1,700 group reserved seating
Sizzle factor: High
This relatively new series presented by the Knitting Factory has proved hugely popular. It's already in full swing with the Barenaked Ladies and Merle Haggard having performed in IBG's gorgeous gardens, but you can still catch chanteuses Jewel and Brandi Carlile, the prolific Jackson Browne, wicked gamer Chris Isaak, funksters Widespread Panic with JJ Grey and Mofro, a benefit by locals Kevin Kirk and Onomatopoeia, and the legends' legend Willie Nelson. Tickets are selling fast.
Food and beverages are available on site or you can bring a picnic. Low-back chairs and blankets are encouraged. Keep in mind that outside alcohol is prohibited and coolers will be searched, which may slow you--and the hundreds of people in line behind you--down, and parking is an issue, so plan accordingly.
Alive After Five
Dates: June 2-Sept. 29
Location: The Grove, 850 W. Front St., downtownboise.org
Sizzle factor: Medium
This every-Wednesday concert is, for some, less about the music and more about meeting up with friends or making new ones. However, the music is the reason for the season. Catch the likes of out-of-towners Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Paul Thorn, The Stone Foxes and Jerry Joseph. AA5 picked up speed last year with the reintroduction of local openers, which continues this year with Jeremiah James, Sleepy Seeds, Bank, James Orr, Poke and more.
We're happy to see the return of local openers to AA5. Food and beverages are available on site, the fountain is on, the Grove is ringed with local vendors, it's a family friendly event and admission is free. But there isn't much shade available so it's tough to stay cool.
Gem State Jam
Dates: Saturday, June 19
Location: Old Idaho Penitentiary, 2455 Old Penitentiary Road, gemstatejam.com
Cost: $15 advance, $20 door
Sizzle Factor: Medium-High
The Old Pen will abound with sound from 12:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. as a combination of locals and out-of-towners give this nearly new festival legs: Cash'd Out (a Johnny Cash tribute band), Jerry Joseph with Wally Ingram and JR Ruppel, the Mike Pinto Band, Big Light, Wendy Darling, Shook Twins, David Robert King, Volifonix, The Very Most, Dan Keck, Brandon Pritchett and Boise Rock School.
This shindig is solar powered (which is excellent), admission is reasonably priced, the Old Pen is a cool venue and food and beverages are available on site. Just remember that this is an all-day event. You might want to plan like you would for an all-day road trip: maybe bring a change of clothes, snacks, etc.
Eagle River Pavilion Concerts
Dates: June 10-Sept. 2
Location: Eagle River Pavilion, 827 E. Riverside Drive, landofrock.com
Sizzle factor: High
We're in what feels like an era of the comeback. Mickey Rourke is starring in movies again and bands that were big 30 years ago--think The Eagles--are out on the road once more (or maybe never left it). Folks in their 40s, 50s and 60s who missed these acts back in the day can see these beloved rock bands live instead of just wistfully humming along to best-of collections via iPod. Case in point, the new Eagle River Pavilion will host Crosby, Stills and Nash, who will christen the new event center, the Steve Miller Band, John Prine and Lyle Lovett this summer.
This is a great opportunity to see some classic acts, as well as the likes of The Black Crowes and Michael Franti and Spearhead. The low-end tickets are relatively inexpensive, but because this venue is so new, we'll have to wait and see how this concert series pans out.
Vans Warped Tour
Dates: Friday, Aug. 13
Location: Idaho Center, 16200 N. Idaho Center Blvd., Nampa, warpedtour.com
Cost: $32 advance, $35 day of show
Sizzle factor: Medium
Now in its 16th year, Warped Tour is older than many of its attendees. The event is a huge draw in the venues it visits, and the Idaho Center is no exception. More than 50 bands will perform during the day (many concurrently on different stages) and thousands will flock to see them. The inclusion of bands like Reel Big Fish, Dropkick Murphys, Andrew W.K. and Sum 41 this year guarantees that a few parents will be in attendance, too. Two especially remarkable aspects of the Warped Tour, besides its longevity, are founder Kevin Lyman's inclusion of kids in the process--for helping with cleanup, they get free admission--and his adherence to his quest to keep the whole thing as green as possible.
This concert offers a lot of bang for the buck, and we're impressed with the focus on reduce, reuse, recycle. Food and drink are available. But it's tough to decide whether to spend the whole day or just catch specific acts at the Idaho Center Warped Tour stop. It takes place in the middle of August here and a lot of the activity happens on the sun-heated blacktop surrounding the grassy bowl. It's kind like being oven-broiled: heat hits from both the sun above and the pavement below. Plenty of sunscreen and water are required to wring all of the fun out of this one.