Festival season is upon us and that means it’s time to break down the 7 best bands to see in Summer 2013. With so many live shows rocking all over the nation, you could be faced with the dangerous dilemma of which band to see, and may even have to – gasp – make a choice between two bands. Don’t panic, I’ve done the preliminary research to help you navigate through this precarious situation. This list will guide you true to a good live music experience…



This one was a surprise for me. The strange harmonic and sometimes tribal-esque sounds of Alt-J grew on me after the show was sold out in KC. Luckily, my lady Melissa had an extra ticket and I joined her (thanks, girl!). I went into the show with moderate expectations…and was blown away. The impressive light show timed to the drummer’s beats teamed with their harmonizing voices put me in awe. I didn’t have any flippin’ idea as to what they were saying when they actually did speak (enunciation is key, boys), but the live show was pretty damn phenomenal. The light show was great and the sound was powerful. Alt-J is a bit of an odd, acquired sound, but give them a try and their live show is not one to miss. Triangle nation, baby.

Here’s a sample of them playing “Something Good” at their performance last month at the Midland in Kansas City:

This summer, these indie british boys will be rockin’ it at The GovernersBallBonnaroo, GlastonburyLollapalooza and more.

edward sharpe

6. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

I had the honor of seeing Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros back in the Fall and it definitely took their music to the next level for me. The group has wonderful chemistry, especially between the lead singers, and they feed off of the good vibes they emit onto the audience. In addition to this, they have an incredibly talented and diverse group of musicians so the sound is rich and layered with different instruments. The group looks more like a cult performing than a music group, but their hippie love fest is contagious. If you see them live, you will be dancing and putting flowers in your friends’ hair before you know it. Read my full review of the concert here. 

Here’s a snippet of them playing “Up From Below” this Fall at Crossroads KC in Kansas City:

Pass the peace pipe and see these guys play at The Governors BallBonnaroo, Kanrocksas and more.

the xx

5. The xx

This is a band I traveled to see this last summer and am SUPER excited to see again in just a couple weeks! When I saw them in New York, they opened with an incredible bass sound that was so intense, it made the hair on my arms quiver. Another band with fantastic chemistry, the lead singers’ eerie voices intertwine to make a rich and prophetic sound. Though the music can be more on the chill side, the light show the Xx delivers adds a level of excitement. At one point during the show, the clear X on the stage is filled with smoke and lit up…very coolio. See more pictures of the band in my post about my trip to NYC.

X off seeing the xx at The Governors Ball, Glastonbury, Bonnaroo and more.

The Black Keys

4. The Black Keys

I saw the Black Keys for the second time just a couple weeks ago and they lived up to my expectations and beyond all over again. Their powerful gritty sound was so sexy and rocking, I was up on my feet dancing for the entire show (what’s new). As much as I love Dan and Patrick, reason they didn’t make number 3 or 2 or 1, is the lack of audience interaction. Dan maybe mumbled a couple words to the audience and Patrick was a complete mute. Regardless, they put on a stellar performance. Memorable moments include the electric guitar ripping into air for the transition in Little Black Submarines and the giant disco ball dropping down for Everlasting Light. They’ve got a rockin’ formula for their songs and it works. See the Black Keys. Do it.

Here’s a ditty of them playing “Gold on the Ceiling” at the Sprint Center in Kansas City (I apologize for turning the camera the wrong way, but you get the jist):

See them tear it up at The Forecastle Festival or on tour before they depart for Europe for the rest of their tour!

of monsters and men

3. Of Monsters and Men

I am very bummed that my pictures and video of this band were lost after my iPhone had an issue updating its software and swiped my memory before it was backed up to the Cloud (oh noooooooo). The photo above is courtesy of my concert buddy, Jacob Greenberg (this concert was my birthday present from him…best friend ever!). I may not have the pictures or video to prove it, but I can vouch that this band puts on a truly awesome live experience. Their instruments and voices work beautifully together with the driving folk beat that makes you want to stomp, clap and square dance all at once. Recent to be hot in the music scene, the band still holds a certain raw humility and excitement, which is adorable. Their interaction with the audience is genuine and fun. At one point, they divided the audience in half and assigned the two interacting lines of the chorus to either side for “Mountain Sound.” This resulted in one side of the room singing, “Hold your horses now.” and the other answering, “We’ll sleep until the sun goes down.” It was a blast! I’m looking forward to seeing them in a couple weeks again, so I will be sure to get pictures and video to share with you!

Of Monsters and Men is will be at Wakarusa and Bonnaroo before jetting to Europe for Glastonbury and other European festivals.


2. Galactic

A New Orleans funk band that I was exposed to while going to college in Florida, Galactic still holds a special place in my heart for best live shows to this day. The band fuses the big band sound of NOLA jazz with funky beats and rap. Their live shows are lively and high energy…like stepping into a bopping New Orleans jazz club with a twist. I remember my first experience seeing Galactic and cracking the biggest grin when the trombone player jumped down from the stage and started dancing through the audience, parting the crowd to the beat with his brass instrument. I wish I could have documented it, but I didn’t have a smartphone at that time (yes, it was that long ago!). The band is always inviting different talented instruments to perform with them so the live experience with them is different every time…but is always on point. Galactic is appearing on more festival lineups and they are a band you do not want to miss!

Jam with these NOLA boys at Hangout Festival and Wakarusa.

the alabama shakes

1. The Alabama Shakes

The Alabama Shakes have exploded onto the music scene in the past year, winning my heart and my ring tone. I traveled to New Orleans to see them with my best friend (see the post about NOLA here). Simply put, that chick can belt it. Their lead guitarist and singer, Brittany Howard, stole the show. I thought she was great on the album, phenomenal on the iTunes Session of the album, but the live experience left me speechless! From where I stood, I could feel her energy as she shook to the music. Every emotion quivered through her body and each note. I was completely captivated. I was concerned they may not have enough material since they have one album. However, they filled up the time and kept it constantly lively with the current album, previews of their new album they’re working on and some creative covers. From the upcoming album material that they sampled, it sounded like more quality music and I was very impressed. See them live to get the sneak peek on their album and also because I believe they’re going to get even bigger in the next year. Then, you’ll have to pay ridiculous amounts to sit in a crowded arena and see them (like I had to do with the Black Keys) versus the Sugar Mill, the personal voo-doo venue I saw the Alabama Shakes at in New Orleans. For these reasons and also because they are an awesome live experience, the Alabama Shakes is my best band to see in Summer 2013.

Here’s Brittany at one of her best moments of the night, performing “I Ain’t The Same”:

The Shakes are working the festival circuit this summer with opportunities to see them at Free Press Summer FestivalFirefly FestivalGlastonburyForecastle FestivalLouFest and more.

Whether it’s your favorite local band or the festival headliner, there’s nothing better than some good live music on a warm summer night with a cold beer in hand, so make sure you get out there to see some live music of some kind this summer! What bands are you looking forward to seeing?