From classic '80s synth to chart-topping pop heartthrobs, it's all happening this month
1. Riverside at Rickshaw Theatre – Saturday, June 1
Facebook/Riverside PLBonded by their mutual appreciation of the superior musicality of bands like Porcupine Tree and Tool, the members of Riverside gathered together in Warsaw in the early 2000s, utilizing combined backgrounds in heavy metal to create a new brand of ethereal-ambient-progressive rock. Personally, I’m more than just a little bit excited to check Poland’s finest off my concert bucket list when they finally drop into our fair city to pay us a visit (considering they’ve never played in Vancouver before). Armed with the 2018 release of their apocalypse-themed seventh studio album, Wasteland, and the recent vinyl re-issues of their brilliant second, third and fourth albums in tow, expect to bear witness to some of the finest-sounding atmospheric musicianship you’ve ever heard emerge from central Europe... or anywhere for that matter.
2. Avatar and Devin Townsend at Commodore Ballroom – Monday, June 3
Facebook/DVN TownsendIn most cases, if you were to tell me a band from Gothenburg, Sweden (home of the most excellent burgers on the planet. I’ve told you that before. Don’t ever disparage my foodie recommendations!) is coming to town, I would be all over that. However, in the case of melodic death metal dudes Avatar, I’m more likely to just wave you off. For me, this particular gig is all about Devin Townsend. If you’re unaware of this extraordinary talent, Vancouver’s own master of alternative/industrial/experimental/progressive/ambient metal has amassed a ridiculously substantial catalogue over the past 29 years, including—but not limited to—his work with extreme metal heavyweights Strapping Young Lad, collaborations with notable heavy hitters like Steve Vai, as well as his extensively diverse solo work. Seriously, why Townsend is not headlining this thing is a complete mystery to me. But the good news for all HevyDevy fans is the fact we can slip out of the venue and get home early after he’s done. Win, win!
3. Chromatics at Vogue Theatre – Thursday, June 6
Facebook/Chromatics BandIf you’ve been hearing your fair share of dreamy electronica filtering through your TV speakers over the past few years, it’s likely been Chromatics invading your headspace. Portland’s purveyors of synth-pop have been featured on such notable television shows as Twin Peaks, 13 Reasons Why and Riverdale. Chances are pretty darn good you’ve been subconsciously aware of this band for quite some time without even knowing anything about them. Well, lucky for us, now is the time to see this slick outfit perform their Italo disco-infused tunes in an intimate venue without having to contend with their usual gigs at some overrated and over-attended outdoor festival where everyone’s aim is to just stand around and pose all day.
4. Amanda Palmer at Chan Centre for the Performing Arts – Thursday, June 6
Facebook/Amanda PalmerMy favourite activist, feminist, humanist, and all-around badass-ist, Amanda Palmer is getting her powerful weaponry all set to bring her There Will Be No Intermission tour north of the 49th. And when I say weaponry, I’m talking about AFP’s voice—not just the one she sings with (which is formidable on its own), but also the strong voice she uses in her relentless quest to fight for the rights of the marginalized. Considering there’s so much going categorically wrong in this world today (don’t even get me started, Alabama and Missouri!), she’ll have plenty to address. Always a must-see whenever she visits, this performance is set to encompass approximately three hours, which works out to about double the amount of love shown by any random superstar charging more than twice the price. Act quickly though, because—at last check—there were only a handful of seats remaining in the parterre (English translation: the back of the room).
5. The Cult at Vogue Theatre – Sunday, June 9
Facebook/Official CultThis is a tough call. On one hand, The Cult have managed to assemble a rather impressive recorded catalogue over the past 35 years. On the other hand, their live show leaves much to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, I like these guys enough to have given them many, many chances dating back to the Sonic Temple tour thirty years ago at the Pacific Coliseum, all the way up to a more recent PNW performance last summer at Pain in the Grass. Believe me, I’ve tried. But when Ian Astbury goes out there and clips all the words to any given song (he doesn’t even try to pull a Vince Neil... you know, when you’re too lazy to sing and you just point the microphone to the audience and make them do it for you?), it just becomes an annoyance, causing you to give up and check your iPhone for the rest of the evening in hopes of being entertained. But, hey, I’ll just leave that up to you. If you’re looking to hear a shorthand version of “Sweet Soul Sister” restyled as “Swe… Sou… Sist… Kee… Push… Ti… Th… Daw… We…,” then have I got a show for you!
Tickets from $67.78
6. Shawn Mendes at Rogers Arena – Friday, June 14
Facebook/Shawn Mendes OfficialSecuring an opening slot for Taylor Swift is the contemporary pop music equivalent of having your novel listed on Oprah’s Book Club. Just ask Ed Sheeran. That dude’s 2017 album is still charting for Pete’s sake! And why?!? Because... Tay-Tay, that’s why. Such is also the case for Shawn Mendes. Sure, we can all feel sort-of proud whenever a good Canadian kid gets seen and heard. But let’s be real, if Swift never bothered with this guy, does anyone here think he’d be the superstar he is today, selling out arenas and even stadiums? I’d be inclined to think not. But it’s not about what I think. It’s about the scores of eleventeen-year-olds who will be losing their collective minds on this particular evening. If you have not yet secured your ticket, don’t wait because there’s only singles available. As such, you will be required to exercise your lung-capacity amongst strangers.
Tickets from $103.50
7. Judas Priest and Uriah Heep at Abbotsford Centre – Monday, June 17
Facebook/Official Judas PriestProving British heavy metal simply never goes out of style, the mighty Judas Priest are still going strong celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. (Let that sink in. The band is the same age as Shawn Mendes’ parents! We’ll see if he’s still a thing at that age.) This influential group is hitting the valley with their 2018 release, Firepower, and—let me tell you—when it comes to classic metal, it’s flat-out solid! If that’s not enough to get you “Hell Bent for Leather,” take note that Uriah Heep (yes, yet another 50-year-old Brit metal outfit) will be Living the Dream (yep, their latest release) as they’re all set to open this gig. Don’t worry about the long drive out to Abby, when you have a chance to witness two legendary ambassadors of the genre in the span of just one evening, you take it.
Tickets from $81.65
8. Corey Hart and Glass Tiger at Rogers Arena – Tuesday, June 25
Facebook/Corey Hart OfficialOkay, yeah, I’ll go ahead and admit it... I was a Corey Hart fan-girl back in the day (so, yeah, sorry-not sorry about all the Shawn Mendes comments). Hart was just recently inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the 2019 Juno Awards, and his performance was a rad flashback if there ever was one. Thinking back, I was there in 1985 when he brought his Boy in the Box tour to the Coliseum. I’m sure I still have the ad clipping from the Sun or the Straight somewhere under my massive pile of ’80s memorabilia. I remember them billing the show as “Live and on Giant Video,” and it might’ve possibly been the first time I ever saw ginormous video screens flanking each side of the stage. That was groundbreaking! Then, a year later, I got to see Glass Tiger for the first time at the Expo Theatre (and, honestly, how great was Expo?). Those guys are truly fan favourites here, as I count about half a dozen shows over the past couple years. This time, they’ll arrive with their newest release, 33, marking 33 years since the release of their first, The Thin Red Line. So—for all of us who enjoy a decent dose of nostalgia—there will be no better concert this summer to relive our appreciation of Ice Mist, neon clothing and ’80s CanCon.
Tickets from $58.95
9. Jeff Lynne’s ELO with Dhani Harrison at Rogers Arena – Wednesday, June 26
Facebook/Electric Light OrchestraBack in 1977, when the double-album Out of the Blue hit the shelves, I’m not sure even the maestro himself would not have imagined his band’s epic watershed release could translate into a live event, but that’s exactly what Jeff Lynne’s ELO has managed to bring to fruition. If 2017’s DVD release Wembley or Bust is any indication of what we’ll be witnessing at Rogers Arena, I believe we’re all in for the concert event of a lifetime. We’re talking a spectacular visual experience, paired with a battery of top notch musicians performing selections from the band’s time-honoured catalogue of classic hits and deep tracks. If that’s not enough incentive to get your butt off the sofa, Dhani Harrison (doppelganger son of Lynne’s late great friend and Traveling Wilburys collaborator, some dude named George) has been announced as the evening’s special guest. I mean, do we think we can get a rendition of “Handle With Care” out of these guys? There’s only one way to find out, so click that ticket link!
Tickets from $79.50
10. Howard Jones at Rickshaw Theatre – Friday, June 28
Facebook/Howard JonesWhen it comes to informing my deference for ’80s synth-pop, Howard Jones sits among the upper echelon. This British purveyor of positive vibes has been creating intoxicatingly happy hits since 1983 (back when pop music was actually excellent). On this outing, he’ll be celebrating not only the landmark 35th anniversary of his seminal album, Human’s Lib, he’ll also be hot on the heels of his brand spanking new release, Transform, which features collaborations with U.S. trance pioneer BT. On this new record and tour, Jones has promised us “synths, synths and more synths,” and I, for one, could not be more hyped if I consumed six Diet Cokes along with seventeen packets of Pop Rocks. And while it’s absolute fact I enjoy immersing myself in the benevolent arms of melancholy music, sometimes I need a good old shot of merriment. It’s all about balance, and—let’s face it—we could all use a little bit of that in our lives.
Tickets from $47.49