From a nonexistent singer to some of the founders of European psychedelia, the talented musical acts coming through the South Bay this summer are diverse and impressive. Big-name hip-hop, world-class jazz and buzzy indie rockit’s all happening. There’s so much going on, it’s hard to narrow down an entire season to a short list of the most essential shows. Still… we tried.
Power Trip & Sheer Mag
The Ritz, San Jose | Jun 1
A dream tour for anyone who likes heavy music but doesn’t care for the machismo, Power Trip and Sheer Mag are for the people. While the metal genre can be a little cliquey and alienating, the Texas thrashers in Power Trip are refreshingly fun and inclusive, while still tearing through riffs like wet tissue. And Sheer Mag take the DNA of ’70s hard rock from the rock stars and give it back to the outcasts.
The Mountain Winery, Saratoga | Jun 17
As time passes, Things Fall Apart, the 1999 album that shot this Philly group to international acclaim, only becomes more powerful. Densely layered and masterfully performed, it was this album that made Black Thought, Questlove and the rest of these jazz-hip-hop fusioneers a household namelong before they joined Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. Celebrating the past while always looking into the future, The Roots are still one of the best bands in America.
Joshua Redman Quartet
Bing Concert Hall, Stanford | Jun 23
One of the most recognizable voices in 21st century jazz, Joshua Redman has collaborated with everyone from Dave Brubeck to Big Daddy Kane. Redman’s style is performative and muscular, and he remains reverent of the masters while searching out new pathways for jazz music. He comes to the Bing Concert Hall with the formidable quartet from his seminal Beyond and Passage of Time albums.
Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View | Jun 24
Love him or hate him, Post Malone is on top of the charts and on top of the heap. “Rockstar,” his collab with 21 Savage, may have shot to No. 1 in the blink of an eye, but it was the endlessly hooky singles from 2016’s Stoney (“Congratulations,” “White Iverson”) that set the stage for his rise. More important, SOB x RBE the great hip-hope of Vallejo, open the show.
Mountain Winery, Saratoga | Jun 29
The powerful harmonies of the Indigo Girls (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) are so stirring you might not even notice yourself singing along to lines about Russian orthodoxy and Ph.D.s. At their best, the folk duo take intellectual and theological questions and put them in everyday contexts, making you feel the mystical in the mundane. See these champions of the LGBTQ movement 30 years after the release of their first major album.
City National Civic, San Jose | Jul 1
Throughout the 1980-90s, French philosopher Jean Baudrillard wrote about how reality no longer referred back to anythingstating “simulation threatens the difference between the ‘true’ and the ‘false,’ the ‘real’ and the ‘imaginary.'” But Baudrillard is dead! Long live Hatsune Miku, the virtual pop star is loved the world over and consists of a “vocaloid software voicebank” and a series of holograms and mirrors! The future is today.
Island Reggae Fest
Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, San Jose | Jul 11
In its previous six years, the Island Reggae Festival has brought some incredible musicians to the South Bay. This year’s lineup aims to outdo itself with many highlights, including genre godfather Fiji, whose haunting voice is worth the price of admission alone. With him are a who’s who of island reggae, including New Zealand roots rockers Katchafire and popular Jamaican duo Chaka Demus & Pliers (“Murder She Wrote”).
SAP Center, San Jose | Jul 11
Riding high in the saddle after her recent SNL performance, Kacey Musgraves comes to the SAP Center in support of her third album, Golden Hour, which has received high critical praise for its melding of pop textures, country heart and a certain amount of psychedelic philosophy. With progressive lyrics and a powerful voice, she’s got the twang for South Bay cow- boys, girls, and non-binary folk alike.
Snow Tha Product
The Ritz, San Jose | Jul 27
Originally from San Jose, this bilingual rapper and Atlantic signee can spit with the best of them. Snow recently dropped a summer jam featuring DRAM and boasts an appearance on The Hamilton Mixtape alongside Riz Ahmed (HBO’s The Night Of, Swet Shop Boys) Snow is quickly making a case for herself as a formidable emcee. Though she hasn’t had a chart-topping single yet, it seems only a matter of time, so be sure to catch her before she blows up.
Don Quixote’s Music Hall, Felton | Jul 26
While this may get buried under the Post Malones and Kacey Musgraveses of the list, it is one of the most exciting concerts of the whole summer. The legendary Faust come to Don Quixote’s Music Hall in Felton, meaning an intimate night with the group that has inspired just about every experimental and indie musician of the last 40 years. Active since 1971, the German noisemakers preceded punk & have outlasted most of their peers.
The Ritz, San Jose | Aug 3
Allison Crutchfield is familiar to many as a solo artist and a touring member of her twin sister’s project Waxahatchee, but before all of that she was in Swearin’, one of the best pop-punk bands of the new century. Just listen to “Dust in the Goldsack” from 2013 album Surfing Strange if you disagree. Then listen to it again, and again. Catch them before they disappear.
Weezer & Pixies
Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View | Aug 7
This lineup is like the chapter in Genesis that is just a list of who begat who. Without The Pixies there would be no Weezer, and likely without Weezer’s shameless pop playfulness there would be no Sleigh Bells, who open the show. It’s like three generations of royalty coming together for some kind of imperial summit, except in this case the empire is references to Buddy Holly, AC/DC, and “slicin’ up eyeballs.”
City National Civic, San Jose | Aug 18
If you’ve got a big-ass jacket, it’s time to bust it out. David Byrne is coming to town. While recent years have seen the Talking Heads frontman collaborate with fellow pop experimenters like St. Vincent and Brian Eno (and publish a respected book on music), he’s now returned as a solo artist with American Utopia.
SAP Center, San Jose | Aug 26
Fucking. Slayer. ‘Nuff said.
Music in the Park
Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose | Jun 22, Jul 12, Aug 3, Aug 24
It’s that time of year again. Break out the lawn chairs and show up early to snag a choice spot at Plaza de Cesar Chavez. This year’s Music in the Park lineup boasts some big names, including the phenomenal Toots & The Maytals, and R&B sensations Tony! Toni! Toné ! S.F. Latin-rockers Malo and island reggae supergroup Third World with Jordan T. round out this season’s calendar for a concert series with something for everyone.
Plaza de Cesar Chavez, San Jose | Jun 23
The Fountain Blues & Brews Festival has long been a summer tradition in San Jose. This year’s acts include The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings, 2018 Blues Music Awards nominees Wee Willie Walker and the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra (with Terrie Odabi), and the Sons of the Soul Revivers. But maybe the most exciting name on the list is Nikki Hill, whose electric energy is a reminder of the power of rock and blues.
San Jose Jazz Summer Fest
Downtown San Jose | Aug 10-12
Though it has jazz in the name, the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest includes a lot more than America’s original artform. The best-known performer this year is certainly Kool & the Gang, but Herb Alpert (sans his famous Tijuana Brass Band), and Booker T. Jones are also massive names on the lineup. For those looking for capital-J Jazz, be sure to catch the boundary-pushing drummer Makaya McCraven, whose work brings the genre firmly into the 21st century.
Sonido Clash Festival
Mexican Heritage Plaza, San Jose | Sep 2
One of San Jose’s most active ambassadors for international music, Sonido Clash brings the third annual Sonido Clash Festival to the Mexican Heritage Plaza this summer. The lineup is still unannounced, but previous years have featured exciting acts like cholo goth superstars Prayers, Tijuana cumbia group La Diabla and genre-blasting outfit Thee Commons.