From rock on the North Shore to emo at Rogers, it's all happening this month
1. Michael Franti & Spearhead at Commodore Ballroom – Wednesday, August 8 and Thursday, August 9
Facebook/Michael FrantiIt’s difficult to imagine Michael Franti heading up a hardcore punk outfit whose stage performance included the use of power tools to create industrial noise, but that’s exactly what he was doing in San Francisco back in the late ’80s when he fronted The Beatnigs. These days, he’s in a far more organic situation, leading his long-running roots/reggae/soul/funk group Spearhead, and it’s a position that suits the peace-loving activist just perfectly. As Franti states on his website, “We need music today more than ever to bring people together and inspire positive change!” So if you want to get in on creating a better world, here’s an excellent place to start by getting to the show and flashing your peace sign when there’s no sign of peace in these troubled times. Tickets for the Thursday show were snapped up pretty quickly (only re-sales are available), but Wednesday is clear as The Sound of Sunshine.
Wednesday: Tickets from $64.50; Thursday: Tickets from $237
2. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats at Deer Lake Park – Saturday, August 11
Facebook/Nathaniel RateliffAs a young kid in small-town Missouri, Nathaniel Rateliff was raised exclusively on Christian rock, but a stumble across a certain John Lennon album in his dad’s collection, and a subsequent evangelical mission to Denver caused the young man to question his faith. After walking away from his involvement in the church, Rateliff took on a series of odd jobs including factory worker, carpenter and gardener, before switching his focus to developing his trademark soulful sound with bands Born in the Flood, The Wheel and eventually The Night Sweats. Lucky for Burnaby, the Americana blues rock group will headline the city’s annual Blues + Roots Festival, offering a set heavily flavoured by their rousing sophomore studio release, Tearing at the Seams. Plan to arrive at the park early as there’s a full day’s worth of performances featuring The Rural Alberta Advantage, Nikki Lane, The Suffers, Begonia and Amythyst Kiah.
3. Panic! At the Disco at Rogers Arena – Saturday, August 11
Facebook/Panic at the DiscoWell, the Golden Knights didn’t exactly pan out to be the Cinderella story everyone in Las Vegas was hoping for (let’s get real though, all the town’s bookies surely breathed a collective sigh of relief as they watched Ovi raise the Holy Grail). But, fear not, Sin City natives Panic! At the Disco are set to lace up at our hockey arena instead. Because who needs a Stanley Cup when you have all this emo-pop to throw around? Don’t answer that question! All things considered, I hesitate to call PatD an actual band because it’s really just one original guy joined by a pack of touring musicians. I should also let you know the group’s earliest line-up formed as a Blink-182 cover band. OK, I don’t know what to do with that information either, but I suppose it’s impressive they made something inexplicably huge out of “All the Small Things.” As such, I suspect there will be an awful lot of hopping up and down in one spot going on at this thing, so I’ll go ahead and recommend suitable footwear. You’re welcome.
Tickets from $61
4. Deafheaven and Drab Majesty at Imperial – Saturday, August 11
Facebook/DeafheavenI can honestly say I’d never heard of the genre “blackgaze” until San Francisco’s Deafheaven surfaced. A fusion of shoegaze with black metal comes across as a pretty heavy contradiction, but apparently it’s a thing and enough people care about it to warrant the term. Given this bill, however, I’m all about showing up so I can finally see Drab Majesty in all their glory. Even though they formed as late as 2011, this Los Angeles post-punk duo—comprised of Deb Demure and Mona D—comes off as a “lo-fi take on the ’80s,” and I’m all over that in a big way! If you’re anything like me and you hold a fond appreciation for any sort of ethereal, thought-provoking electronica from days gone by, this will be your scene.
5. Rock Ambleside Park – Friday, August 17 to Sunday, August 19
Facebook/Lee AaronWest Vancouver is gearing up for another three solid days of music at Rock Ambleside Park. The second annual outdoor event features 11 smashing acts in total. Friday’s action kicks off with Lee Aaron, Sweet and Loverboy; Saturday rocks with an all-Canadian lineup of Rik Emmett, Chilliwack, Kim Mitchell and Trooper; and Sunday caps it all off with Doug & The Slugs, Toronto, Little River Band and Nazareth. This is nothing but an extravaganza of fun (and if you’re keeping track, that’s one more vaganza). My only complaint about last year was the positioning of the water bottle-filling stations... at the absolute farthest point from the portable toilets. Hey, we’ll all be drinking a fair amount of H2O and it’s not going to just sweat itself out. Soooo… if any of the event’s organizers are reading this right now, let's get that worked out. Otherwise, you’re all in for a fabulous summertime experience if 2017’s affair was any indication.
Tickets from $64.50
6. Alice Cooper at Queen Elizabeth Theatre – Monday, August 20
Facebook/Alice CooperIs it that time already? I’m referring to the obligatory annual event more commonly known as the Alice Cooper show. I say that as I roll my eyes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool stuff the 70-year-old still tours, and I appreciate a good horror story just as much as the next girl, but really, how many times are we going to pay to see the same damn concert every... single... freakin’... year? I’ve attended half a dozen times or so, and the only thing that ever changes is his guitarist du jour. Now that his band features neither Damon Johnson nor Reb Beach on six-string, I’m out. This time, he promises “A Paranormal Evening”. Like that’s supposed to be different. Sure. Not to be a spoiler or anything, but I pretty much guarantee there will be a guillotine scene before the night is out. Apologies if I ruined it for you.
Tickets from $77
7. Alice in Chains at Queen Elizabeth Theatre – Wednesday, August 22
Facebook/Alice in ChainsIndulge me for a sec so I can climb up on my soapbox to suggest you refrain from calling Alice in Chains a “grunge” band. It’s a derogatory term made up by people who couldn’t find a way explain what was happening musically in the Pacific Northwest all those years ago. If you ask me, the word is more indicative of fashion than genre. However, if you absolutely feel an aching need to categorize them, AIC is simply a rock band, and a great one at that. Sermon over. Let’s get on with what’s happening right now–and when I say now, I’m making an ardent point that this band is fully embracing the now, regardless of the disparaging words spoken by all the naysayers trying to poke holes in their current lineup. Get over yourselves, people! Yes, it has been over 16 years since Layne Staley left our planet, but why should this band have to crawl up into a little ball and wither away? They shouldn’t, and I’ll tell you why. With present-day vocalist/guitarist William DuVall in the frontline, the outfit has put out two brilliant, critically acclaimed albums and is set to release their third, Rainier Fog, only two days after this concert. I think it might be safe to say we’ll hear a set featuring some of this new stuff. Fingers crossed. I would also expect to witness some sort of tribute on this night, as it will commemorate what would’ve been Staley’s 51st birthday. Tissues ready. Sorry, did I forget to mention this is a sold-out show? Only re-sales are available at this point. Groceries are overrated anyway.
Resale tickets from $200
8. The Cult, Stone Temple Pilots and Bush at Abbotsford Centre – Tuesday, August 28
Facebook/STP BandThe Revolution 3 Tour featuring The Cult, Stone Temple Pilots and Bush will take over Abby’s former hockey hut... sans the most important thing that would’ve been the best reason to travel out to the valley. See, these three acts will actually appear on the second night of KISW’s three-day Pain in the Grass celebration down in Auburn, Washington on August 25th. I have tickets to that particular event because, well... you know... because Alice in Chains will be headlining, and I plan to arrive late. If you missed the memo as to why the stateside date is the superior of the two–and these bands actually matter to you–then by all means, scoop up some tickets and start the car. I’m certainly not here to judge.
Tickets from $50