From local bands to national names, here are 30 sunset shows you can’t miss.
By Lauren Cohen | Photography by Will Cocks

Arts & Culture

Summer Concert Guide

From local bands to national names, here are 30 sunset shows you can’t miss.

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Nothing beats the energy of a summer concert. Whether you’re sprawled out across the lush lawn at an outdoor venue, or standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other die-hards in a packed club, there’s something about live music on a warm evening that keeps us dancing all season long.

Throughout the next few months, tons of diverse performers will be taking stages all over Charm City. So no matter what type of music lover you are, there are plenty of opportunities to crack open a beer, listen to a sunset soundtrack, and take a break from reality—even if only for a few hours. Here, we round up 30 can’t-miss concerts in the area.

Live and Local

6/8: Flock of Dimes

Wye Oak frontwoman Jenn Wasner returns to her hometown with this indie side project, whose debut album If You See Me, Say Yes made waves last year. Local synthpop star Amy Reid will also grace the stage as the band’s special guest. Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St., 9 p.m., $14

6/16: J Pope and The HearNow

Led by the vibrant vocals of J Pope, who has been a powerful presence in the local hip-hop scene for a while now, this funk-infused group captivates crowds with its call-to-action lyrics and soulful sound. Swing by The Creative Alliance for a record release party celebrating the band’s debut album Soul Searching, which was produced by beloved Charm City creative Wendel Patrick. The Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., 8 p.m., $15

7/29: Animal Collective

Get lost in the one-of-a-kind harmonies of these beloved Baltimore boys-turned-electropop experimentalists who will share the Merriweather stage (the venue which inspired the name for their eighth studio album Merriweather Post Pavillion) with indie-folk favorite Fleet Foxes. Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, 6 p.m., $41-56

8/2-3: All Time Low

The Towson-born rockers return to their old stomping grounds for a two-night residency at Rams Head Live. Get nostalgic with pop-punk hits like “Remembering Sunday,” “Dear Maria, Count Me In,” and the emotional “Six Feet Under the Stars.” Rams Head Live, 24 Market Place, 6:30 p.m.

9/9: Kix

This hard rock trio, whose members hail from Hagerstown, has been playing festivals across the country since hitting the scene in the early ‘80s. (Locals probably know the band best for frequently headlining Hammerjacks, the iconic rock club which is currently being rebuilt in South Baltimore.) Catch them at Rams Head Live to hear concert favorites including “Midnite Dynamite” and “Yeah Yeah Yeah.” Rams Head Live, 24 Market Place, 9 p.m., $24.50

National Names

5/24: Bon Iver

We feel relaxed just thinking about the opening chords of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love.” Hear the tune live, along with other songs from the indie-folk band’s 10-year repertoire, at this after-sunset show. Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, 8 p.m., $46-76

6/6: Chance The Rapper

The Grammy-award winner—best known for his streaming-only philosophy and pledged independence from the traditional record industry—brings his rich raps and soulful samples to this summer stadium show. High-energy hits like “All We Got,” “All Night,” and “No Problem” off of the Chicago native’s latest mixtape, Coloring Book, will be sure to get you out of your seat. Royal Farms Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., 8 p.m., $28-932

6/9: Paul Simon

Music lovers of all ages will pack the pavilion to catch a glimpse of this hall of famer, who will perform a set of iconic tunes (think “Graceland,” “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” and “You Can Call Me Al”) mixed with new music off of his 2016 album Stranger to Stranger. We can only hope he’ll throw in a few from his Simon & Garfunkel days, too. The evening will also feature the powerful pipes of singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan. Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, 6 p.m., $55-175


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6/10: Bush

These British rockers are making their way across the pond for a summer tour stopping in cities all over the U.S., which kicks off with a string of shows on the East Coast. Catch them at Rams Head Live to bob your head to favorites like “Glycerine” and “The Only Way Out.” Power Plant Live, 34 Market Place, 7 p.m., $10

6/11: Jack Johnson with Lake Street Dive

Nothing says summer like the serene sounds of Jack Johnson, who is hitting the road for the first time in more than two years this season. Gear up for classics like “Banana Pancakes” and “Better Together” with a set from beloved rock-and-soul quartet Lake Street Dive. Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, 6 p.m., $45-75

6/13: An Evening with Dawes

The Los Angeles natives bring their collection of finger-picking folk-rock gems to Baltimore Soundstage. Baltimore Soundstage, 124 Market Place, 7 p.m., $25-28

6/14: Journey

Cross an item off of your bucket list by snagging seats to see this iconic classic-rock quintet in action. Belt aloud to favorites like “Lights,” “Who’s Cryin Now,” and “Open Arms,” and partake in what we’re sure is going to be the most epic “Don’t Stop Believin’” singalong Charm City has ever seen. Royal Farms Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., 7:30 p.m., $56-422

6/14: Franz Ferdinand

These Scottish rockers have been churning out chart-toppers for more than a decade. Jam to the catchy guitar riffs while singing along to familiar favorites like “Do You Want To” and “Take Me Out.” Rams Head Live, 24 Market Place, 8 p.m., $25

6/18: Third Eye Blind and Silversun Pickups

Third Eye Blind has put out some alternative anthems over the years. (Nineties kids go nuts for “Never Let You Go” and the addictive do-do-do’s of “Semi Charmed Life.”) Hear a bunch of oldies-but-goodies—plus new jams off of the band’s 2016 album We Are Drugs—at this Sunday show that will also feature the androgynous vocals of veteran alt-rockers Silversun Pickups. Pier Six Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave., 7 p.m., $45-365

6/20: John Legend

Though he’s been making music for over a decade, lately, John Legend seems to really be living up to his last name. We’re still not over last year’s ballad “All of Me,” and his latest single “Love Me Now” has quickly become a Top 40 favorite. The soulful songwriter takes the piano at Merriweather this summer to perform a set of his smooth, gospel-infused gems. The show will also be a homecoming for R&B opener Gallant, who grew up in Howard County. Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, 6 p.m., $59-499

6/27: Jill Scott

The Lyric seems like a fitting venue for Jill Scott, the fierce female vocalist, poet, and spoken word artist whose magnetizing presence and jazz-infused sound have earned her multiple Grammy awards. Get comfortable in the auditorium to snap along to soulful songs like “A Long Walk” and “Can’t Wait.” Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mt. Royal Ave., 7:30 p.m., $90-600

6/29: Busta Rhymes

The legendary rapper who took the hip-hop scene by storm in the late ‘90s is still doing his thing, touring around the country and even making appearances on the festival circuit this season. Head to the Inner Harbor to hear him spit rhymes at this show presented by local live music hospitality organization Feed the Scene. Rams Head Live, 24 Market Place, 8:30 p.m., $50

7/14: My Morning Jacket

As the sun sets, sway to the psychedelic sounds of these Louisville-based rockers—who recently released a deluxe edition of their groundbreaking album It Still Moves. Austin-born singer-songwriter Gary Clark Jr. is also on the evening’s bill. Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, 7 p.m., $46-76

7/14: Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor

With two of the industry’s all-time greats on the same stage, we can only imagine this performance is going to be nothing short of magical. Take a trip back to the early ‘90s with Raitt’s powerful proclamations of love and loneliness (think “Something to Talk About” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me”), while also singing along with James Taylor’s distinctive vocals in catchy classics like “How Sweet It Is” and “Fire and Rain.” Nationals Park, 1500 S. Capital St. Southeast, Washington D.C., 7 p.m., $22-280

7/15: Merriweather 50th Anniversary Featuring Jackson Browne and Willie Nelson

Back in 1967, a 40-acre plot in the woods of Howard County was transformed into Merriweather Post Pavilion, the hallowed amphitheater that has since showcased performances by everyone from Janis Joplin and Jimmy Buffet to Led Zeppelin and The Grateful Dead. To celebrate the venue’s 50th year of bringing live music to the community, Merriweather has organized this show featuring an epic lineup of Americana icons. Enjoy old favorites from Willie Nelson, Father John Misty, special guest host Grace Potter, and Jackson Browne—who recorded three tracks off of his 1977 album Running on Empty at the pavilion. Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, 6 p.m., $55-125


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7/19: The Moody Blues

Though they first made their mark during the British Invasion in the mid-‘60s, these English rockers have transcended generations with deep pieces like “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon.” Post up at Pier 6 to sway to the sounds as the band celebrates the 50th anniversary of its debut album Days of Future Passed. Pier Six Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave., 8 p.m., $23-291

7/21: Kendrick Lamar

It’s been quite a year for Kendrick Lamar, the Compton-born hip-hop king whose new LP DAMN has sat at the top of the Billboard charts for three weeks straight. Grab tickets to watch the rapper in action, and prepare to get out of your seat with summer anthems like “Humble” and “Loyalty.” Verizon Center, 601 F St. N.W., Washington D.C., 7:30 p.m., $104-704

7/23: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

There’s just something about Tom Petty’s smooth style that makes us want to roll down the windows and blast “American Girl” on a summer afternoon. Experience the pop culture icon’s expert guitar skills and signature harmonica riffs (think “You Don’t Know How It Feels”) when his 40th anniversary tour makes a stop in Baltimore. Royal Farms Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., 7 p.m., $88-1295

8/6: J. Cole

This musical prodigy—who got his start with the help of Jay-Z—brings his collection of meaningful lyrics fused with high-energy beats to the Royal Farms Arena stage this summer as part of his "4 Your Eyez Only" tour. Royal Farms Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., 8 p.m., $26-408

9/15: Sturgill Simpson

This recent Grammy award winner has made headlines with his signature style that redefines the construct of country music. Get comfortable on the Merriweather lawn to dig to the sounds of his 2016 album A Sailor’s Guide to Earth—an impressive lineup of songs incorporating diverse influences from Motown to rock-and-roll. Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, 8 p.m., $40-49.50

Summer Series

5/4-9/7: WTMD First Thursdays

This beloved concert series presented by Towson University public radio station WTMD has become the ultimate indication of summer in the city since it began in 2005. This year, the series returns to Canton Waterfront Park on the first Thursday of every month from May to September with expanded lineups and an additional stage. At the next installment on June 1, spread out a blanket, grab some local food truck fare, and enjoy the sounds of Tift Merritt, Margaret Glaspy, Jeb Loy Nichols, Susto, Super City, The Rad Trads, and Muddy Magnolias. Canton Waterfront Park, 3001 Boston St., 5:30 p.m., Free

5/12-8/11: Summer Social Series at West Shore Park

With the sun setting over the Inner Harbor as its backdrop, this annual concert series hosted by Waterfront Partnership is an ideal way to kick-start your weekends this summer. Bring the entire family to enjoy eats and drinks, adults-only beverages from Dooby’s, weekly giveaways, and tons of live music on the second Friday of the month throughout August. This year’s local headliners include Kelly Bell Band, Loose Ties, What’s Next, and The New Romance. West Shore Park, 401 Light St., 5-8 p.m., Free

5/19-9/29: Feet on the Street

Allegheny Avenue in Towson transforms into a makeshift music festival every Friday evening throughout the summer. Grab a seat on the curb or set up a chair on the street to sing and dance along to local rockers like Crushing Day, Common Ground, Appoloosa, and Josh Christina Band. The family-friendly event also features face-painting and a moon bounce for kids, as well as a full bar with beer and wine for moms and dads. Alleghany Avenue between Washington Avenue and York Road, Towson, 6:30-9:30 p.m., Free

5/26-9/8: Summer Sounds at the Square

Now celebrating its fourteenth season, this community get-together brings the Belvedere Square community out in droves on Friday nights throughout the summer. Bring the whole family to enjoy kid-friendly activities, eats and drinks from all of the market’s merchants (the Memorial Day Weekend kickoff will feature ice cream from Atwater’s and a crawfish boil from Tooloulou), and, of course, a killer lineup of local bands. Throughout the season, dance along to alternative rockers Starcrush, ‘80s cover band The New Romance, R&B performers Essential Vybe, blues band The Honey Extractors, and more. Belvedere Square, 529 E. Belvedere Ave., 6-9 p.m., Free

6/23-8/25: Music on Main Street

This summer series has become a Reisterstown ritual over the past few years. On Friday evenings, kick-back on the lawn of Franklin Middle School off of Main Street to enjoy eats and drinks from local vendors, mingle with friends and neighbors, and jam to the sounds of local performers like party rockers Don’t Stop, pop cover group Dave DeMarco Band, and jazz and funk-influenced sextet Different Sisters. 10 Cockeys Mill Road, Reisterstown, 7-10 p.m., Free.


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