With each passing year, life is starting to feel bizarrely like Groundhog Day. Every 12 months it’s all we can do to hold on through a June that’s more miserable than an on-the-rag Van Morrison. And then, finally, the skies part and we come to the realization that this is going to be a summer concerts season that makes the other 10 months here somehow seem almost tolerable. The key word being almost.
The most famous Barbados export this side of Mount Gay Rum is obviously a fast learner. Back in 2007—when she was famous for that “Umbrella-ella-ella-ella” song and not much else—Rihanna opened for Akon at what’s now known as Rogers Arena, her performance suggesting that, in addition to hits, she was also lacking anything resembling charisma. Somebody must have sent Rihanna to pop-star school after that; her 2010 return to Rogers, this time as a headliner, was arguably the most entertaining spectacle of the year, with the eye candy including black-rubber fetish wear, bubble-gum-pink army tanks, and enough choreography to impress dear departed Bob Fosse.
When and Where: June 24 and 25 at Rogers Arena.
Suggested Retail Price: From $19.75 to $99.75 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: A flying-fish platter with plantain fries and an authentic rum punch.
Fan Profile: Human Bratz dolls who never download anything they haven’t heard on the radio first, and the Kits Beach gangsta dudes who hook up with them.
Appropriate Attire: Thigh-high vinyl boots and ass cheek–highlighting short shorts.
What You’ll Walk Away With: Proof that, while we all may be God’s creatures, some of us are more equal than others, at least where looks are concerned.
TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Featuring everything from the fever-dream indie rock of Blonde Redhead to the shit-kicking Americana of Steve Earle to the Swedish modernism of Jonas Kullhammar, the only way the jazz fest is going to disappoint you is if you’ve completely given up on life.
When and Where: June 24 to July 3 at various locations.
Suggested Retail Price: Visit www.coastaljazz.ca/ for a full breakdown.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: For old times’ sake, the boxed set Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia (1933-1944).
Fan Profile: Take a look at the person standing next to you. If they care about music in the slightest, they’ve had the jazz fest bookmarked for months.
Appropriate Attire: Anything from a Lucinda Williams cowboy hat to a Wynton Marsalis pinstriped suit.
What You’ll Walk Away With: New appreciation not only for what jazz has been, but what it can be.
With the White Stripes permanently out of commission, the Black Keys are now the go-to act for those who like their blues performed by distortion-blasted duos the colour of blanched wallpaper paste. And that’s not a knock on singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, who paid their dues in tiny clubs long enough to make sure they didn’t blow it when they finally got their shot at the big time. As proven by their sixth and latest disc, Brothers, the Keys are one of those rare acts that somehow manages to get better with each album. That’s more than the Rolling Stones can say.
When and Where: June 27, Deer Lake Park.
Suggested Retail Price: $45 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: A meet and greet with the Wu-Tang Clan, who, funnily, mean more to the Black Keys than Muddy Waters.
Fan Profile: Aging hipsters who were there when the Keys were playing the old Pic Pub; suburban heshers who’d never heard of them until CFOX got on board.
Appropriate Attire: How about a White Stripes De Stijl tour T-shirt, if only to prove you were onto the whole blues-rawk thing long before NME helped break it in North America.
What You’ll Walk Away With: Plans to form your own duo, this being based solely on the fact that, if a goddamn nerd like Carney can be impossibly cool, you can too.
Even though he seems too out-of-it to notice, Brian Wilson has, in recent years become lionized as one of pop music’s all-time geniuses. The argument goes something like this: if not for Beach Boys classics like Pet Sounds, we wouldn’t have the likes of Fleet Foxes or the New Pornographers to kick around. The famously fragile singer-songwriter hits the road on this tour performing the songs of George Gershwin.
When and Where: June 28 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
Suggested Retail Price: $85/69.50/55 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: The guarantee we’ll never have to hear “Kokomo” on the radio again.
Fan Profile: Nostalgic baby boomers and retro-obsessed Main Streeters.
Appropriate Attire: It’s a toss-up between a tux with tails, Quicksilver beach shorts, and a Hawaiian tacky-tourist shirt. So why not hit all the bases by mixing and matching all three?
What You’ll Walk Away With: Hopefully a new respect for a man who, once upon a time, looked like he’d be spending the rest of his life in a sandbox.
My Morning Jacket
Originally lumped into the southern-rock-revival movement of the early ’00s, My Morning Jacket left that scene behind faster than you could yell “Play ”˜Free Bird’ ”. Six albums into the band’s career, fantastically hirsute leader Jim James and his cohorts have now transcended all labels. They’ve also started to appeal to a crowd beyond the perma-fried, with MMJ’s latest, Circuital, debuting at number five on the Billboard charts.
When and Where: June 29 at the Orpheum.
Suggested Retail Price: $46/36 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: Weekend VIP passes to Bonnaroo.
Fan Profile: Jam-band pacifists, open-minded alt-country aficionados, and lifelong High Times subscribers.
Appropriate Attire: Facial hair—preferably cultivated to resemble a black Leicester ram before its yearly shearing.
What You’ll Walk Away With: Confirmation you’re not the only one in Vancouver sporting a beard that looks like a Chia Pet on growth hormones.
There’s an old show-business adage that, if you stick around long enough, people will eventually stop mocking you, even if you sing like a castrato who’s been huffing on the helium tank. Thanks to acts like Coheed and Cambria and the Mars Volta, technically proficient prog-rock is no longer the exclusive domain of bong-ripping Dungeons & Dragons fans from Newton. And before you go arguing that Rush is no cooler today than in 1981, go out and rent I Love You, Man.
When and Where: June 30 at Rogers Arena.
Suggested Retail Price: From $46 to $116 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: A mint-condition original 7-inch pressing of Pavement’s “Stereo”, which famously features the lyrics “What about the voice of Geddy Lee—how did it get so high?”
Fan Profile: Senior citizens in mack jackets and young guns who understand that the Warped Tour is no longer just for acts who have trouble making it through “Louie Louie”.
Appropriate Attire: Vintage Rush concert Ts—think Moving Pictures or Grace Under Pressure—but only if they’ve been sourced at a suburban swap meet.
What You’ll Walk Away With: The feeling that Canadians do it better, at least where proto-prog songs with girlish vocals and endless drum solos go.
A couple of years back, poor old Britney Spears was getting no shortage of flack as she attempted to transition from teenage Lolita to serious adult artist. It didn’t help that she was shaving her head balder than Uncle Fester and attacking SUVs with umbrellas, strolling out of truck-stop shitters barefoot, and chain-smoking Marlboros around her two diaper dumpers.After a much-publicized trip to the screw factory for a re-threading back in 2008, Spears seems to be back on track and conducting business as normal with her latest, Femme Fatale. She still can’t sing, but, at least she’s got hair again.
When and Where: July 1 at Rogers Arena.
Suggested Retail Price: From $29.50 to $350 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: Kevin Federline’s alimony cheques.
Fan Profile: Those for whom “music” is a relative term.
Appropriate Attire: Think private-school sexpot, but only if you actually are a private-school sexpot.
What You’ll Walk Away With: Sheer incredulity at the fact that Spears is somehow still playing hockey rinks instead of the Puyallup Fair.
Here’s a novel idea—take two acts well past their pull dates and then combine them in a package designed to look shiny and new. Proving that maybe sometimes you can polish a turd, iconic boy bands New Kids on the Black and Backstreet Boys come together as NKOTBSB. That the former’s original fans are now raising Katy Perry–obsessed kids in Ladner, and the latter’s are more into the Killers has evidently done little to torpedo this most unholy of alliances.
When and Where: July 9-10 at Rogers Arena.
Suggested Retail Price: From $29.50 to $89.50 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: The promise of a Debbie Gibson and Spice Girls package tour.
Fan Profile: Women desperate to revisit a time when, despite their lives being ruined by braces, training bras, and nerd specs, marrying Nick Carter or Donnie Wahlberg seemed very much a possibility.
Appropriate Attire: For old times’ sake, training bras, braces, and nerd specs. Complete lack of self-esteem is optional.
What You’ll Walk Away With: One question: “What in the hell was I thinking?”
Vancouver Folk Music Festival
With top-tier imports like Rosanne Cash, brilliant homegrown talent like Kathryn Calder, and a menu that swings from the classic alt-country of the Jayhawks to the forward-thinking hip-hop of Buck 65, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival once again serves up a program designed to challenge all definitions of what folk music is supposed to be.
When and Where: July 15 to 17 at Jericho Beach Park.
Suggested Retail Price: Visit thefestival.bc.ca/ticket-information for a full breakdown.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: All-access passes for the next WOMAD.
Fan Profile: Open-minded adventurists who understand that borders are something you only find on maps.
Appropriate Attire: Consult the new Fleet Foxes album.
What You’ll Walk Away With: Even though your day-to-day existence usually fills you with a boiling, seething rage, the feeling that maybe your fellow human beings aren’t insufferable after all.
The Tragically Hip
Who gives a shit if the Tragically Hip, for reasons we’ll never understand, never cracked America. The Kingston-spawned quartet is genuine royalty on this side of the border, as uniquely Canadian as maple syrup, beer-league hockey, and the comedy stylings of the Royal Canadian Air Farce.
When and Where: July 15 at Deer Lake Park.
Suggested Retail Price: $59.50 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: Proof that Bill Barilko is, despite all evidence to the contrary, alive and well and living in a trailer park next to Elvis.
Fan Profile: I Am Canadian guys and girls who will blather on to anyone who’ll listen about how they can’t stand the obnoxious patriotism of Americans.
Appropriate Attire: Molson Canadian Ts for the guys; Canadian Girls Kick Ass baseball caps for the gals.
What You’ll Walk Away With: In the unlikely event that you’ve somehow forgotten, a potent reminder that the Hip are one of the most powerful live bands on the planet. And yes, that includes America.
Oddsmakers had Katy Perry enjoying 14 minutes and 59 seconds of Cherry ChapStick-scented fame, this thanks to her designed-to-titillate smash “I Kissed a Girl”. Instead, the daughter of crazy and judgmental American Christians is neck-and-neck with Lady Gaga in the race to be pop-music’s official reigning princess. Who says nice girls never get ahead?
When and Where: July 19 at Rogers Arena.
Suggested Retail Price: $49.50/39.50 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: Footage of the domestic battle royale which ensued after Russell Brand posted Katy Perry’s sans-war-paint, 7 a.m. wake-up-call photo on the web.
Fan Profile: Pop-tart connoisseurs, faux-lesbians, and guys who’ve realized that they’ll never have a better opportunity to totally stare at a chick’s rack without getting busted.
Appropriate Attire: ’50s pin-up chic.
What You’ll Walk Away With: The burning desire to do it with Katy Perry. After all, if she’ll hump Russell Brand, she’ll obviously do it with anyone.
Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers
With nothing left to prove as a standup comedian, big-screen actor, or all-around Hollywood icon, Steve Martin has kept things interesting for himself by launching a second career: banjo-picking maniac. If you’ve ever spent time with the inbreds of the Ozarks, you are well aware bluegrass is the one genre that’s impossible to have a bad time to. Unless, of course, it’s blaring away in the background while some toothless hillbilly has you trapped in the woods with your pants around your ankles while demanding that you squeal like a pig.
When and Where: July 26 at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts.
Suggested Retail Price: $89.50/69.50/49.50 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: A used copy of The Idiot’s Guide to Cat Juggling.
Fan Profile: Two percent old-timey Americana fans, and 98 percent star-gawkers who can’t believe they’re going to get to see that wild and crazy guy in the flesh.
Appropriate Attire: Think Dixieland casual, as opposed to a snappy white suit accessorized with a novelty-store arrow through the head.
What You’ll Walk Away With: New respect for the genius of that grimy inbred kid from Deliverance.
In case you haven’t been shopping lately at Urban Outfitters, Banana Republic, the Gap, or American Apparel, the ’90s are, like, totally hot right now. For proof of that, look no further than the return of Soundgarden which, after a good decade in the morgue, suddenly lurched back to life last year with a small club show in Seattle. A cold cash grab, you say? Well, considering bassist Ben Shepherd has gone on record as being piss broke, you’re probably right.
When and Where: July 29 at Rogers Arena.
Suggested Retail Price: $79.50/49.50/29.50 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: Vintage American flannel, which is to say nothing you’ll find on the shelves at Urban Outfitters, Banana Republic, the Gap, or American Apparel.
Fan Profile: Gen Xers, who’ve spent the past decade coming to the conclusion that, if possible, things are even worse for them now than they were in the ’90s.
Appropriate Attire: Um, flannel, but left unbuttoned over a bare chest. “Jesus Christ Pose”–issue shorts and army boots are optional.
What You’ll Walk Away With: Begrudging
admiration for whoever picks the store music at Urban Outfitters, Banana Republic, the Gap, and American Apparel, if only for their realizing that the’90s are, like, totally hot right now.
Slayer and Rob Zombie
Believe it or not, once upon a time metalheads and punk rockers got along about as well as those two dudes from Death From Above 1979 circa 2006. What brought the two tribes together, you might ask? Well, Motí¶rhead mostly, but thrash pioneers Slayer and cartoon-obsessed alt-metal renegade Rob Zombie have also done their part. For this tour, the latter two team up to make one of the scariest pairings this side of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
When and Where: August 3 at Rogers Arena.
Suggested Retail Price: $69.50/45/25 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: Industrial-grade earplugs.
Fan Profile: Drunk and disorderly, hearing-impaired keepers of the faith.
Appropriate Attire: Ratty dreads, battered cowboy hats, and tattoos, with bonus points if they are on your head.
What You’ll Walk Away With: More hearing impairment.
Joel Zimmerman isn’t the last DJ standing, but he’s without question the biggest. At a time when turntable jockeys have once again taken a back seat to dudes and dudettes with guitars, the man known as Deadmau5 is a bigger star than 99 percent of those in the rock trenches. Do Jack White, Alison Mosshart, or that beardo from Fleet Foxes have their own bobbleheads? Didn’t think so. Zimmerman, who is famous for performing his electro-charged, glitter-bombed dance anthems in a giant rodent’s head, does.
When and Where: August 11-12 at the PNE Forum.
Suggested Retail Price: $50 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: The Deadmau5 bobblehead, but only if still in the box with the original packaging.
Fan Profile: Nu-school electronica fans, who place more importance on the right sunglasses than that perfect pacifier.
Appropriate Attire: Giant yellow shoes, and a pair of red shorts with suspenders and yellow buttons. Mickey Mouse tail optional.
What You’ll Walk Away With: If you’re lucky, no ecstasy hangover.
Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival
The funny thing about the blues is that the genre endures despite acts who’ve dragged it further from its roots than Robert Johnson would have ever dreamed. And yes, we’re looking at you, Blues Hammer. The Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival has never been completely for the purists, which probably explains why it packs a 10,000-capacity park when most Mississippi Delta old-timers would have trouble filling your living room. With a lineup that this year includes k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang, Luke Doucet and the White Falcon, Imelda May, and John Mayall, no one’s complaining.
When and Where: August 13 at Deer Lake Park.
Suggested Retail Price: $70 to $50 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: A night in the pines with the ghost of Leadbelly.
Fan Profile: White folks who totally didn’t get the Blues Hammer joke in Ghost World.
Appropriate Attire: Cotton, but only if you’ve picked it yourself.
What You’ll Walk Away With: The realization you really ought to spend more time at the Yale.
Based on her last appearance in these parts, Janet Jackson has plenty to answer for. At her 2008 gig at Rogers Arena, the small army of backup singers, retina-searing light show, and countless costume changes did little to obscure the fact that our evidently out-of-shape girl spent more time huffing and puffing than singing. Word has it this downsized tour is about the music and nothing else. If that’s the case, hopefully Michael’s little sister has been spending time on the treadmill.
When and Where: August 26 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
Suggested Retail Price: $199/115/65 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: A freezer full of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey, because the less of that stuff Jackson can get her hands on, the better.
Fan Profile: Forgiving. Very, very forgiving.
Appropriate Attire: The type of weird, glittery baseball hats you normally have to go to a Korean-run nail salon to find.
What You’ll Walk Away With: The definitive word on whether or not Janet Jackson is officially done as a pop icon.
Remember when pop-punk giants Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker, and Tom DeLonge showed up at the 2009 Grammys to announce they were getting back together? Was it just us, or did they look about as happy as your forever-squabbling parents at Sunday dinner?
When and Where: August 31 at Rogers Arena.
Suggested Retail Price: $74.50/59.50 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: Scott Raynor’s walking papers.
Appropriate Attire: Rather than worrying
about what you’re going to wear, why don’t you take off your pants and jacket?
What You’ll Walk Away With: A weird feeling that maybe that Sex Pistols reunion wasn’t as lame as you remember it being.
We don’t care who knows it—we’ve got a serious thing for Ke$ha here at the Straight, and not just because of the way she can rock a granny bikini like”¦Er, all right, that granny bikini was totally hideous, and it would be nice if we could scrape out of our heads that image of her lying on a bed with DJ Stolen’s baby batter puddled on her chest. Still, that’s not going to stop us from singing along to “Tik Tok” every time it comes up on the Beat while we’re driving around in our white Cabriolet convertible.
When and Where: September 9 at Rogers Arena.
Suggested Retail Price: $46.75/32.75/22.25 plus service charges.
What We’d Trade Our Tickets For: More photos from that DJ Stolen shoot.
Fan Profile: With apologies to the Stranglers, nice and sleazy does it.
Appropriate Attire: Ripped and faded Metallica T-shirts and shiny silver hot pants. As for the girls, ask yourself this, ladies: what would Kesha Rose Sebert do?
What You’ll Walk Away With: What’s left of your credibility in complete tatters.