Sounds of Summer

Music to drown out every grasshopper, cricket and annoying bullfrog near you


Summertime is synonymous with relaxation and vacation, and the backbone behind all the season's festivities is always the music. Boise and the surrounding areas are lucky to have a diverse selection of musical concerts, shows and festivals this summer. This is BW's first sneak peak of performances to come in the Treasure Valley with definitive previews on singular shows to follow throughout the summer.

That aside, there are two regional musically based experiences outside of Idaho to consider attending as well. The Northwest Folklife Festival held at the Seattle Center in Seattle, Washington, is only a short flight from Boise and kicks off the summer on Memorial Day weekend. Over 275,000 visitors are expected for the four-day event, with 6,000 performers scheduled. The philosophy behind Folklife is to celebrate humanity's similarities, not differences. In this spirit, a variety of musicians, dancers, artists and folklore exhibits will create the Woodstock atmosphere Folklife is known for, including performances by Moscow, Idaho, natives Von and Ben Walden, as well as Basque-style accordion playing of fellow Idahoans.

What summer would be complete without a road trip to The Gorge, located in the picturesque basalt cliffs overlooking the Columbia river Canyon. Look for headliners from Modest Mouse to Dave Matthews; James Taylor to Jack Johnson (who will also play outdoors at the Idaho Center Amphitheater August 12.) The Gorge is the ultimate way to bond with 100 of your closest friends and an additional few thousand strangers, all camping together under the stars in appreciation of music, fun and the outdoors.

Back in Boise, the Big Easy's headliners over the next three months include three bands that all sprung to success in the '90s, beginning with our very own Built to Spill, headlining a benefit concert for TVTV June 4. It's hard to find a native not proud of Built to Spill, especially as the band returns to their hometown at least annually to play for free or for a good cause. As one of the most popular indie-rock groups of the '90s, Built to Spill is still blazing the trail of postmodern rock and delivering unpredictable live shows.

Next up at the Big Easy are the Aquabats on July 14: a band with an equally entertaining biography as their sound. Noted as the "masked, underdog champions of nerd-core," the band blends humor into their punk rock, new wave melodies and sarcastic ska influences. When an early member sewed matching rubber helmets from scrap neoprene for all 14 members (while working at a wetsuit company), the Aquabats were born. They then went on to reinvent Southern California's punk scene in the mid '90s.

Another highly anticipated show at the Big Easy, at the very tail end of summer, is Ani DiFranco on August 30. An inspirational cult heroine to her fans for surmounting the corporate music scene, DiFranco built her status as a household name through a slow but steady grassroots approach, admirable whether or not you like her folk/punk, jazz/funk grooves. Leading listeners forever into new territory, she is a solo act relying on her melodious voice, alternating gritty and sentimental lyrics and way with a guitar.

Across town at the Bouquet, L.A.-based band Midnight to Twelve and Brazil's Udora bring Boise a high-energy rock show on July 19. Midnight to Twelve has enjoyed national success and are keeping their sights set on the even greater international markets. Udora is similarly looking to expand from their South American success, combining jazz and rock with the lush, pensive music of Brazil. Their unique sound in the States is likely to send them far, especially with legendary Arista label chief Clive Davis backing the band.

Summer fun occasionally boils down to the quick day trip, so for those stuck in the valley, there are a few good reasons to venture up to McCall: Widespread Panic plays with DJ Logic on July 1 at Brundage Mountain Amphitheater and the McCall Music Festival is held on July 14, 15 and 16. Similar to DiFranco, Widespread Panic built a solid name for themselves from the inside out over the course of their 18-year career. After a two-year hiatus, the band is again taking their roots, rock, blues and boogie sound around the country with 350 songs in their repertoire to choose from. The McCall Music Festival at the historic Roseberry townsite, located just south of McCall, is a family event featuring local and regional talent of the bluegrass band the Greencards, blues singer Rita Chiarelli, Ala Zingara's acoustic music and Tony Furtado's gypsy banjo.

Two additional line-up series to keep in mind this summer are Alive After Five's competitive roster which spices up the free shows by including non-local bands for the first time (and having the foresight to move to Hannah's in case of rain), and the 2005 Vans Warped Tour. Alive After Five began the season with Crash Four last Wednesday, and continues with Pinto Bennett and Friends on May 18 and Marcus Eaton on May 25. June shows in order are Almost Dangerous, Too Slim & the Tail Draggers, B Side Players, Dukhs and Rising Lions. July shows are Jude Bowerman, Duffy Bishop, Little Sue and Massive McGreggor. August shows are Rubberneck, The WayBacks, Reckless Kelly and Warsaw, with the final show on August 31 to be announced.

The Vans Warped Tour returns to the Idaho Center Amphitheater on July 8. The tour includes Offspring, Dropkick Murphys, Matchbook Romance (not to be confused with the Matches who are also playing), Motion City Soundtrack and the Unseen, among others. This musically charged summertime assault is sure to please all music fans of punk and then some.

Obviously the above list of performances leaves out many a great band coming to town, whether headliners, underground, local or not. To complete the picture of summertime music, keep checking for updated listings of numerous other music happenings.