South Florida's Ten Best Concerts of Summer 2016

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Although the sweat dripping down the small of your back and settling somewhere in the spaces of your ass cheeks says otherwise, it somehow isn’t summer quite yet. The first official day of the summer is next Monday, June 20.

Thankfully, along with the increase in our electric bills and likelihood of hurricanes, there also comes a bevy of brilliant shows for the next three months. Here are our top 10 picks.

10. Steely Dan and Steve Winwood
Saturday, June 29
Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre

Depending on your age, there are three reactions to seeing these two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-rs on the same bill: a) Time to tick off a box on the bucket list! b) Here I come, musical time-travel machine! or c) Who? If you fall into the last category, you’re either an infant or a terrible person. It’s OK, we can fix that. Here’s the thing — everyone knows at least one Steely Dan song and at least one Steve Winwood song, even if it’s by accident, because they’re never not on the radio or playing in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. They’re two of the most influential and prolific pop-rock artists of the modern age, in particular Winwood, who’s had massive hits as part of the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic as well as on his own: “Higher Love,” “Roll With It,” “Gimme Some Lovin’” – the man’s entire career is a greatest hits collection.

9. Marilyn Manson
Friday, July 1
Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre

The Anti-Christ Superstar and Pale Emperor returns to his old South Florida stomping grounds early next month with a pair of metal bands, Of Mice and Men and Slipknot. There’s a lot to say about Marilyn Manson, but depending on your stance, it’s either all criticism or all praise. With Manson’s divisive and often controversial lyrics, there is no center. Nonetheless, Manson is one of rock’s most successful crossover artists. Operating primarily in the alternative, industrial, and metal genres, the multitalented Manson, who’s also an accomplished actor and painter, broke free from the chains of those labels in the '90s. Love him or hate him, he’s brilliant at what he does and, oh yeah, he puts on a hell of a show.

8. Mutemath and Twenty One Pilots
Saturday, July 2
BB&T Center

Over the last few years, there’s been a trend by artists and bands with somewhat similar fan bases to join forces for what we’ll call BOGO tours — buy-one-get-one-free-type concerts where a pair of headliners take the same stage at discount. Just this month, South Florida hosted Weezer/Panic at the Disco! in Miami and Frank Turner/Gogol Bordello in Fort Lauderdale. The next three months feature a few more rad BOGO shows, including the mighty pairing of Mutemath and Twenty One Pilots. There is no other way of putting this: If you’ve never seen either of these bands, this is your best opportunity to witness two of the hardest working groups losing their shit onstage in the best possible way, making you want to do the same. It’s almost a shame this concert is at the BB&T Center since both Mutemath and Twenty One Pilots are best experienced in a space small enough that they can crowd surf. But alas, they’re at the point that the power of their live shows necessitates a building big enough to contain all the magic.

7. Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa
Wednesday, July 20
Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre

Don’t bother applying for a new job for at least a month after this show. You will test positive for marijuana by merely attending. The High Road Tour (see?!) brings together the Doggfather and the “Black and Yellow” rapper for what should be one fun, superchill show at the fairgrounds. Sure, you can get pit or seats up front, but the real action, or lack thereof depending on tolerance, will be out in the lawn seats. Between songs like “See You Again,” “Gin & Juice,” and the song that brought these two hip-hop stars together, “Young, Wild, & Free,” it’ll be a lovely summer evening of classic hits — and hits of another kind.

6. Counting Crows and Rob Thomas
Friday, July 22
Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre

Another one of our BOGO summer tours unites a couple of '90s acts in the Counting Crows, who have made a few trips to South Florida the last few years, and Rob Thomas, who’s still enjoying his time as a solo artist apart from his old band, Matchbox Twenty. West Palm Beach will kick off the duo’s North American tour for what’s a natural pairing. Thomas and Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz have been friends for 20 years and played together early on in their careers. In a statement, Duritz said, “I still love nothing more than touring with my friends.” Thomas echoed that sentiment by adding, “Music is about good friends getting together and celebrating life. Our fans are going to be doing that in the audience and we will be doing that on stage as well.”

5. 311 and Matisyahu
Wednesday, July 27
Sunset Cove Amphitheater

For a little more BOGO goodness, 311 and Matisyahu, a couple of the sunniest of the modern reggae-rock and hip-hop purveyors, team up in Boca Raton. Creators of the Pow Wow Festival in Suwannee Park and several Caribbean cruises departing from Miami, 311 not only knows how to throw a party, but the Nebraska natives are damn near Floridians at this point. For his part, Matisyahu has always been a bit more reserved; however, in recent years, with the shedding of his traditional garb and a haircut, Matthew Paul Miller has also learned to let loose. This show could very well be one of the most spiritually uplifting shows of the summer — or a good excuse to get really baked and bask in the sun.

4. Motion City Soundtrack
Friday, August 12
Culture Room

Get the hankies out. This is the end of an era. The name of the current Motion City Soundtrack tour is a bittersweet one: the So Long, Farewell Tour. Polite, poignant, but ultimately kind of a bummer for Motion City Soundtrack fans. After nearly 20 years, the Minneapolis outfit is calling it quits, or at least going on an “indefinite hiatus.” In a recent interview with the Boston Globe, lead singer Justin Pierre said the reason the venerable pop-punk band is stepping away is simple: “We were having this great tour, and things were good, but we just all felt kind of beat up,” he said. “I think we all kind of looked at each other like, ‘I don’t know if we can do this anymore.’” Ironically, the band has a song titled “Can’t Finish What You Started,” but then again, like comic book superheroes, the best ones never stay dead for long, so maybe this is the penultimate chapter of a story that isn't truly ending yet.

3. Dixie Chicks
Saturday, August 20
Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre

The Dixie Chicks haven’t released a new record since 2006's Long Way Home, and for the record’s tenth anniversary, they're coming back in a big way. The DCX MMXVI World Tour is a 70-stop sojourn around the globe that looks to revitalize the extensive catalog of country hits and number-one albums by the best-selling female band of all time. Despite their lack of new material, sisters Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison, and lead singer Natalie Maines, have hit the road several times over the years, both as a trio, with the Eagles for example in 2010, and on their own, including Maines’ solo excursions. Known for their energetic and vibrant shows, the Dixie Chicks — fans and students of pop music’s history — will also slip in a few notable covers by Beyoncé, Bob Dylan, Lana Del Rey, and Patty Griffin. We might even get their beautiful version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”

2. AC/DC
Tuesday, August 30
BB&T Center

When it was announced back in April that due to severe hearing loss, Brian Johnson, frontman and lead singer of AC/DC, would drop out of the group's current Rock or Bust world tour, it seemed to many that the Australian band had done the latter – gone bust. Then hope blossomed anew when none other than Axl Rose became the band's vocalist. From all accounts, he’s a man reenergized, literally back on his feet after healing from a broken foot he suffered during a warm-up show with the partially reunited Guns N’ Roses. Now the story takes another twist, as Johnson recently revealed he may have a way of getting back onstage thanks to new hearing aid technology. In a press statement, he gushed, “IT WORKS! It just totally works and you can't argue with that. I was really moved and amazed to be able to hear music again like I haven't heard for several years now.” Whether it’s Johnson or Rose we hear sing “Back in Black,” this should be a historic and stupendous rock show.

1. Brian Wilson
Wednesday, September 14
Seminole Hard Rock & Casino

The fact that Brian Wilson is still performing live is nothing short of a miracle. The genius and mastermind behind one of the greatest pop-rock records of all time, Pet Sounds, has battled and overcome all sorts of personal demons including nervous breakdowns and hearing voices in his head. The Beach Boys bandleader, now in his 70s, will spend the summer reflecting and reliving happy days with the Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary World Tour. His stop in Hollywood is a can’t-miss for Brian Wilson fans, Beach Boys fans, or fans of brilliant music in general. He is a true living legend and an icon that created a sound for an entire generation and for generations to come. 

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