Jeff Spevak looks at a summer of music

May 24, 2018

A hip-hop Pulitzer Prize winner and a country music star who was onstage when last summer’s mass shooting in Las Vegas broke out. This is one outdoor concert season that reflects our changing and challenging times.

Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center, just outside of Canandaigua, gets off to a late start, June 16, in offering a cautious 15 concerts. Meanwhile Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, midway between Rochester and Buffalo, went on a show-shopping spree, and will have 25 nights of shows.

Roger Daltrey without The Who. Dave Matthews without, and then with, The Dave Matthews Band on consecutive nights. And who will win the Aug. 10 head-to-head clash of country music stars, Alan Jackson at CMAC and Jason Aldean at Darien Lake?

Here are the shows, broken down into easily-digested categories. If this list strikes you as a collection of lame generalizations, rest assured, these are the very same generalizations used by promoters and marketing departments. That’s why they show so many truck commercial videos at country shows: They know country-music fans like trucks.  

For the Boomers with disposable income and music sensibilities that ground to a halt at around 1975:

John Fogerty and ZZ Top at CMAC, 7 p.m. June 23.

Poison and Cheap Trick at Darien Lake, June 26. Two bands from the ’80s with nothing in common: In particular, Cheap Trick was good.

Roger Daltrey sings The Who’s Tommy with orchestra at CMAC, 8 p.m. June 30. Rock and classical, not always a great marriage. We’ll see.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Charlie Daniels Band and Jamey Johnson at Darien Lake, 6 p.m. July 13. In this age of cities removing their monuments to slavery, does Lynyrd Skynyrd still unfurl that giant Confederate battle flag during its shows?

Slayer, Lamb of God and Anthrax at Darien Lake, 5 p.m. Aug. 3. Last call for thrash-metal giants Slayer.

Chicago and REO Speedwagon at Darien Lake, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7.

Earth, Wind & Fire at CMAC, 8 p.m. Aug. 29.

Steve Martin and Martin Short at CMAC, 8 p.m. Aug. 31. Funny ages well.

Deep Purple and Judas Priest at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. Sept. 5.

For Deadheads and their progeny:

Dead & Company at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. June 19. The band features Dead men Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart along with Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti and John Mayer.

Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds at CMAC, 7:30 p.m. June 26. Reynolds, who knew Matthews back when the latter was a bartender, has a way of stealing these shows.

The Dave Matthews Band at Darien Lake, 8 p.m. June 27. With an album due this summer, expect new material.

Tedeschi Trucks Band, Drive-By Truckers and The Marcus King Band at CMAC, 7 p.m. July 10. This show out-Souths Darien’s Lynyrd Skynyrd show.

Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family, Twiddle and Midnight North at CMAC, 6:30 p.m. July 21. Featuring the Grateful Dead bassist.

For those of you arriving by pickup truck:

Zac Brown Band, The Mark O’Connor Band and Darrell Scott at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. June 24. The O’Connor Band, a Grammy winner for Best Bluegrass Album, features Webster native Kate Lee.

Keith Urban and Kelsea Ballerini at CMAC, 7:30 p.m. July 8. The Australian native is one of country’s most-versatile talents.

Lady Antebellum, Gavin DeGraw and Russell Dickerson at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. July 21.

Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne and LanCo at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. Aug. 4. Brothers Osborne bassist Pete Sternberg is a Rochester native.

Alan Jackson at CMAC, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 10.

Jason Aldean, Luke Combs and Lauren Alaina at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. Aug. 10. Alden was onstage when the sniper started shooting into a Las Vegas country-music crowd last year, killing 58 people. “It’s not something that’s going to define my career,” Aldean told The Tennessean. “It’s something that happened one night out of a million shows I’ve played. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but we’re good and we’re looking forward to getting back on the road.”

Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. Aug. 16.

And for the Graduate Student Country Music Class:

Chris Stapleton, Marty Stuart and Brent Cobb at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. June 28. Stapleton finds the common genes shared by blues and country. Stuart alone is worth the price of admission.

Sturgell Simpson and Margo Price at CMAC, 7:30 p.m. June 16. Simpson, the new County Music Outlaw, and Grammy winner, laces his lyrics with psychedelic mushrooms.

Songwriters for tortured souls:

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit with Brandi Carlile at CMAC, 7 p.m. July 20. No songwriter today captures humanity’s many degrees of pain better than Isbell.

Positive Vibes:

Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s Fourth of July celebration, three days late, “Red, White and Boom,” at CMAC, 8 p.m. July 7.

The Piano Guys at CMAC, 8 p.m. Aug. 8. Piano and cello, the band’s YouTube channel has gone beyond one billion views. No kidding. The band did catch a bit of flack for playing Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Under 30 years old, please:

Post Malone, 21 Savage and SOB X RBE at Darien Lake, 8 p.m. May 26. A blend of rap and singer-songwriter, Post Malone is a Syracuse native

Kendrick Lamar, SZA, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab Soul, SiR and Lance Skiiiwalker at Darien Lake, 7:30 p.m. June 3. Lamar’s album Damn., journalistic hip-hop, won the Pulitzer for muasic.

Logic, NF and Kyle at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. July 3.

Kesha, Macklemore and Wes Period at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. July 22.

Vans Warped Tour at Darien Lake, noon July 25. Dozens of punk and rock bands, thousands of body piercings.

G-Eazy, Lil Uzi Vert, Ty Dolla $ign, YBN Nahmir, P-Lo and Murda Beatz at Darien Lake, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 24.

Niall Horan and Maren Morris at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. Sept. 7. Former member of the boy band One Direction.

Over 30 years old, but acting under 30, and getting away with it:

David Byrne and Benjamin Clementine at CMAC, 7 p.m. Aug. 5.

Used to matter, not so much now:

Godsmack, Shinedown and Like a Storm at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. July 24.

Arctic Monkeys and Mini Mansions at CMAC, 8 p.m. July 25.

Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson and Deadly Apples at Darien Lake, 7 p.m. Aug. 12.

Breaking Benjamin and Five Finger Death Punch, Nothing More and Bad Wolves, at Darien Lake, 6 p.m. Sept. 3.

Kid Rock, Brantley Gilbert and Wheeler Walker, Jr., at Darien Lake, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28.

Soccer Mom tour:

Kidz Bop Live at Darien Lake, 6 p.m. Aug. 18.

Tickets for CMAC and Darien Lake shows are available at ticketmaster.com, (800) 745-3000 and the box office. Check the venue websites, cmacevents.com and darienlake.com, for more details.

Jeff Spevak is a Rochester-based writer. His web site is jeffspevak.com.