June 1 (Friday)
WYRK Taste of Country (1 p.m., CC). The summer starts with the first of many multi-act country gigs. This one features Eric Church, Joe Nichols, the Eli Young Band, Casey James and Dustin Lynch.
Joan Osborne (8 p.m. BD). Soulful, sexy and toting a hot new album, "Bring it On Home."
June 2 (Saturday)
Kiss the Summer Hello 2012 (5 p.m. CC). Top 40 takes over the ballpark, as Carly Rae Jepsen, Dev, Chiddy Bang, Neon Hitch, Cody Groves and Chris Rene convene to get their groove on.
June 7 (Thursday)
The Cult with Against Me! and the Icarus Line (5 p.m. Harbor).* The formidable English alt-rock outfit the Cult will be touting a fantastic new album, "Choice Of Weapon." The addition of the edgy Against Me and Los Angeles grit-rockers the Icarus Line makes this opening Thursday at the Harbor more than enticing.
June 8 (Friday)
Drake with J. Cole, Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz and French Montana (7 p.m. DLPAC). The actor-turned-rapper arrives for his highly anticipated Darien Lake debut.
June 9 (Saturday)
Lalah Hathaway (7:30 and 10 p.m. Tralf). Old-school R&B royalty, in the flesh.
Michael Bolton (8 p.m. SEC). No, not the disgruntled office employee from the cult film "Office Space," but rather, the king of '90s blue-eyed soul.
June 10 (Sunday)
Loretta Lynn (5 p.m. SA). A country and western class act.
June 12 (Tuesday)
Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang (7:30 p.m. UBCFA). A double-shot of serious blues, spanning several generations and simply oozing soul.
Sting (8 p.m. Artpark). The "Back to Bass" tour finds Sting reconnecting to his initial role as rock bassist and songwriter supreme, fronting a small band and cranking up the on-stage energy.
June 13 (Wednesday)
Marianas Trench with the Audition (6 p.m. Rapids). Emo rides the Rapids!
June 14 (Thursday)
Fitz & the Tantrums with Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, ZZ Ward. (5 p.m. Harbor).* Fitz and the Tantrums threw an alternative dance party opening for the Grace Potter and the Nocturnal during last year's Thursday at the Square, and the band was a hoot. Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds 21st century funk-soul wowed 'em at Nietzsche's a few months back.
June 15 (Friday)
Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band (8:30 p.m. Fallsview). For this summer's All-Starr Band trek, the former Beatle has enlisted Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie (Santana, Journey), Steve Lukather (Toto), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), saxophonist Mark Rivera (Billy Joel) and drummer Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth).
June 17 (Sunday)
Dream Theater with the Crimson ProjeKct (8 p.m. Artpark). The prog-rock double-bill of the summer!
June 18 (Monday)
The Robert Cray Band (8 p.m. Tralf). Cray's soulful blend of deep blues and sleek R&B is ageless and timeless.
June 19 (Tuesday)
Kansas (6:30 p.m. Artpark). Sometimes referred to as "The American Yes," Kansas -- led by founding members Steve Walsh, Rich Williams and Phil Ehart -- returns from the "Point of Know Return" to its familiar summer digs at Artpark.
June 20 (Wednesday)
Ziggy Marley with Aqueous (6:30 p.m. Artpark).* The most prolific of Bob Marley's musical brood will surely bring some Jamaican sunshine along with him for his first outdoor show at Artpark; Buffalo's own Aqueous will help him spread that sunshine around.
AVICII (8 p.m. FNC). The Swedish DJ/producer/performer makes his Buffalo debut on our city's biggest stage.
Puscifer (8 p.m. Riviera). Maynard James Keenan of Tool's uber-interesting side project will transform the Riv into its own theater of the wonderfully absurd, no doubt.
June 21 (Thursday)
Built to Spill with Matthew Sweet and Hey Rosetta! (5 p.m. Harbor).* A '90s indie rock extravaganza!
Roger Waters: The Wall Live (8 p.m. FNC). The Pink Floyd maestro brings his thrilling multimedia production of "The Wall" back to First Niagara Center for a victory lap.
June 23 (Saturday)
Reel Big Fish with Goldfinger (7 p.m. Town Ballroom). Get your ska-punk fix for the summer with this pogo-inducing double bill.
June 26 (Tuesday)
Foreigner (6:30 p.m. Artpark). Want hits? Foreigner's got 'em, in abundance!
June 28 (Thursday)
Fountains of Wayne (5 p.m. Harbor).* A '90s indie rock extravaganza Part II!
June 27 (Wednesday)
Starry Night in the Garden with Kris Allen, Mat Kearney, Andy Grammer and Graffiti 6 (6 p.m. Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens). A soothing blend of modern pop-rock that you can feel good about taking the whole family to.
Tokyo Police Club (6:30 p.m. Artpark).* Ontario's indie-rock "it" boys return to Western New York after a well-received set on the waterfront last season.
June 29 (Friday)
Gov't Mule with the Sheepdogs (5:30 p.m. Labatt).* For the lover of jam band, southern rock and the imaginative commingling of both, this just might be the show of the summer.
Sam Roberts Band and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals (6 p.m. Rocks). A co-headlining bill that just can't miss, with both acts having won the hearts of area audiences over the past several years.
The Beach Boys (8 p.m. DLPAC). Brian's back! Though the Beach Boys have never really stopped touring, this is the fabled group's first tour with founder and songwriter Brian Wilson in eons.
June 30 (Saturday)
moe. with Conspirator (6 p.m. Rocks). Buffalo's ambassadors to the jam-band world join with jam-tronica supergroup Conspirator. This one looks incredibly promising.
Rascal Flatts with Little Big Town and Edens Edge (7 p.m. DLPAC). A contemporary country-rock mini-festival, surely a summer highlight for fans of the form.
July 3 (Tuesday)
Huey Lewis & the News (6:30 p.m. Artpark). This band's 1980s pop has endured, most likely because it is rooted in rhythm 'n blues, and is always impeccably performed by the seasoned and skilled Lewis and his band.
Dave Matthews Band with Brandi Carlile (7 p.m. DLPAC). Would summer really be complete without a DMB gig in our region? Methinks not.
July 5 (Thursday)
Arrested Development (5 p.m. Harbor).* Veterans of the Lafayette Square stage, and still one of the more enduring hip-hop collectives to emerge from the '90s.
John Mayall (8 p.m. Tralf). Would it be truly accurate to credit the birth of the entire British blues-rock boom of the 1960s and '70s to one man? If that one man is Mayall, then yes, it would.
July 6 (Friday)
Great Blue Heron Music Festival (through July 8, Wait Corners Road, Sherman). Visit greatblueheron.com to scope the jaw-dropping lineup for this year's installment of the revered family-friendly festival.
Eddie Money with Stacey Clark (5:30 p.m. Labatt).* The two tickets to this paradise will cost you nothing! Be sure to get there on time to catch the opening set from Clark, a Buffalo native and singer/songwriter supreme.
July 7 (Saturday)
The Guess Who with eXit! and Salt Peter (6 p.m. HRC).* My money's on the amazing area band Salt Peter to steal the show on this night! A great lineup, regardless.
Stevie Nicks (8 p.m. SEC). Just like the white-winged dove, the lovely Nicks will alight on the Seneca Events Center's stage with a set of her biggest solo hits, and surely a Fleetwood Mac nugget or three.
July 8 (Sunday)
The Four Freshmen (3 p.m. Artpark). One of the first vocal groups to bring jazz harmony to bear on pop songs, the Four Freshmen had a massive influence on the likes of Beach Boy Brian Wilson. A tip of the hat to them.
July 10 (Tuesday)
Sublime with Rome (6:30 p.m. Artpark). We're getting up on the 20-year anniversary of Sublime mastermind Brad Nowell's death, but the remaining two-thirds of that band, with a new name and new singer in Rome Ramirez, continue to preach the gospel of jam-reggae-funk-ska with conviction.
July 11 (Wednesday)
Lowest of the Low (6:30 p.m. Artpark).* Western New York's love affair with the Low continues!
July 12 (Thursday)
Seether (5 p.m. Harbor).* Alt-metal from South Africa. One for the post-grunge fans.
July 14 (Saturday)
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra performs the music of the Grateful Dead with Brass Monkeez (6 p.m. HRC).* Grateful Dead music performed by the BPO with an "all-star" band comprised of area Dead tribute band musicians? You can't go wrong.
Gillian Welch (8 p.m. UBCFA). The UBCFA is should be the perfect setting for Welch's hypnagogic Americana-roots blend. Welch is like novelist Carson McCullers with an acoustic guitar.
July 15 (Sunday)
Feist (6 p.m. Rocks). Another booking with a big advance buzz. Leslie Feist has gone from strength to strength since striking out from Broken Social Scene. This one has a broad, multigenerational appeal.
Neon Tees with Walk the Moon (7 p.m. Town Ballroom). They've opened for everyone from Duran Duran to the Killers and My Chemical Romance. Neon Trees is clearly ready for headliner status.
July 16 (Monday)
Andrew Bird (7 p.m. Artpark). One of the coolest shows of the summer for the discerning fan of alternative pop. Chicago-based Bird is a songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist of considerable repute.
Iron Maiden with Alice Cooper (7:30 p.m. DLPAC). The undisputed kings of post-Black Sabbath heavy metal always give their all when they come to the area. Cooper, who killed 'em at the Harbor last summer, will surely seek to do the same during his opening set.
July 17 (Tuesday)
Vans Warped Tour 2012 (Noon DLPAC). This is a summer tradition. There is no other gig where one can catch as many bands for as little money.
Yes with Procol Harum (6:30 p.m. Artpark). With freshly recruited, former Glass Hammer vocalist Jon Davison now singing, Yes men Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Geoff Downes will play classics like "Close To the Edge" alongside fare from their recent "Fly From Here" album.
July 18 (Wednesday)
The Trews with illScarlett (6:30 p.m. Artpark).* Canadian heavy garage rockers the Trews are still promoting last year's well-received and raucous "Hope & Ruin" album. They'd be well-advised to make sure that opener illScarlett -- a high-energy rock-reggae amalgamation -- doesn't give them a run for their money!
July 19 (Thursday)
Young the Giant with Bahamas and the Ruby Spirit (5 p.m. Harbor).* One of the hippest bookings on an outdoor stage this summer. Young the Giant is a modern alternative band on the rapid ascent. Adding Toronto's similar ascending Ruby Spirit and Bahamas lands the show firmly on the "must see" list.
July 20 (Friday)
Big Wreck (5:30 p.m. Labatt).* Ian Thornley has regrouped his mighty Big Wreck and released a strong new album, "Albatross." This will be the band's first area appearance in more than a decade!
July 21 (Saturday)
Shockwave Festival (4 p.m. Town Ballroom). A classic thrash/metal mini-festival, presided over by Fear Factory and Voivod.
Sloan with the Junction and Topanga (6 p.m. HRC).* The ageless, timeless, transcendent power-pop of Sloan is one of the few things you can rely on to put you in a good mood.
July 22 (Sunday)
The Allman Brothers Band and Santana (6:30 p.m. DLPAC). A field day for lovers of the electric guitar, fat-free jams and Latin percussion fire!
July 24 (Tuesday)
Heart (6:30 p.m. Artpark). If you caught Def Leppard at Darien Lake last summer, perhaps you were lucky enough to witness opener Heart mopping the floor with the headliner with a short set. Catching the Wilson sisters in this full-length setting will surely be sublime.
July 25 (Wednesday)
Citizen Cope (6:30 p.m. Artpark).* A week past the release of his new album, "One Lovely Day," Citizen Cope will bring his beautifully idiosyncratic hybrid of blues, folk, electronica and jam-band grooves Artpark.
Nickelback with Bush (6:30 p.m. DLPAC). A marriage made in heaven, or a disturbingly unholy union? It all depends on where you're coming from.
July 26 (Thursday)
Arkells with Gomez and Elliott Brood (5 p.m. Harbor).* British avant-garde pop and and Canadian power-pop meet up to duke it out. My money's on Gomez, but really, we're all winners on this one.
Matisyahu and the Dirty Heads (7:30 p.m. Town Ballroom). A reggae-rock bacchanal! Be there! Irie!
July 27 (Friday)
Theory of a Dead Man (5:30 p.m. Labatt).* Wearing its Social Distortion/Mike Ness influence proudly on its sleeve, Theory of A Dead Man will likely pummel the Lockport crowd into submission.
July 28 (Saturday)
Talas with the Road and Fat Brat (6 p.m. HRC).* A one-off Talas reunion! Sink your teeth into that!
Billy Currington (8 p.m. SEC). Anyone who made a major hit out of a song called "Pretty Good At Drinkin' Beer" is OK in my book.
July 29 (Sunday)
Toronto All Star Big Band (3 p.m. Artpark). This ensemble of our Northern neighbors pays tribute to the pre-be bop area of jazz, when swing was the thing and Benny Goodman was a good man.
Meat Loaf (5 p.m. SA) Like the proverbial bat out of hell, Mr. Meatloaf and band make their way to town. Be advised -- they'll be gone when the morning comes.
Toby Keith with Brantley Gilbert (7 p.m. DLPAC). Keith may well be the only artist to play summer concerts in the Buffalo area with more consistency than Eddie Money. Doubtless, as always, he'll pack 'em in.
July 31 (Tuesday)
Steve Miller Band (6:30 p.m. Artpark). Miller's show at the Erie County Fair four years back was one for the ages. Let's see if he can match it!
Aug. 1 (Wednesday)
Slipknot and Slayer with Motorhead and Anthrax (6 p.m. DLPAC). Worth it for Motorhead alone! Add Slayer, Anthrax and Slipknot and you've got headbanger heaven.
O.A.R. with Rebelution (6:30 p.m. Artpark).* This free show might set an attendance record. O.A.R.'s legion of followers rivals that of the Dave Matthews Band.
Aug. 2 (Thursday)
The Jesus and Mary Chain with Wildlife (5 p.m. Harbor).* This is the show that seems to be creating the biggest buzz of all the gigs on the Harbor list. Classic alternative.
Aug. 3 (Friday)
54-40 (5:30 p.m. Labatt).* A seasonal favorite of Buffalo-area audiences, this Canadian alt-rock band has been delivering the goods for three decades.
Aug. 4 (Saturday)
KC and the Sunshine Band with Lance Diamond and Vitamin D (6 p.m. HRC).* A disco inferno. Who else but Lance Diamond could open such a show?
Aug. 5 (Sunday)
Lyle Lovett & His Band (7:30 p.m. UBCFA). Always eloquent, understated, wry, brilliant, deeply musical, a Lovett show is a heartwarming affair.
Aug. 7 (Tuesday)
Peter Frampton (6:30 p.m. Artpark). Last year, Frampton owned the Artpark stage with a full rendering of his multiplatinum mainstay "Frampton Comes Alive." What's he got up his sleeve this time around?
Aug. 8 (Wednesday)
1964 the Tribute (8 p.m. Fair).* Get your faux-Fabs on, folks, for this Beatles tribute!
Aug. 9 (Thursday)
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones with Ron Hawkins and the Do-Good Assassins (5 p.m. Harbor).* Whoa! Hawkins and Co. warming up the rowdies for the Bosstones? Hope you're ready to pogo!
Big Time Rush with Cody Simpson (7 p.m. DLPAC). One can almost hear the high-pitched screams already. For the teens and tweens!
Aug. 10 (Friday)
George Thorogood with Tom Hambridge (5:30 p.m. Labatt).* Mr. "Move It On Over" returns, this time with Buffalo native Tom Hambridge, a Grammy-winning producer and Buddy Guy cohort.
Rik Emmett (8 p.m. BD). The Triumph founder and guitarist supreme has been a mainstay of the Buffalo-area summer concert scene for many a year, and with good reason -- he leaves it all on the stage, every time.
Aug. 11 (Saturday)
Finger Eleven with USS and Whiskey Reverb (6 p.m. HRC).* It's been a good while since we've heard from Canadian metal-prog-alternative outfit Finger Eleven. Outdoors at the Hard Rock Cafe seems like a good place to get reacquainted!
Joe Walsh (7 p.m. SA). "Life's Been Good," indeed. The coolest Eagle touches down for a solo gig.
Victoria Justice (7:30 p.m. Fair). A talented teen-pop/television starlet makes her way to the fairgrounds.
Brad Paisley with the Band Perry and Scotty McCreery (7:30 p.m. DLPAC). A country music mega-ticket, to be sure.
Aug. 12 (Sunday)
Ted Nugent with Laura Wilde (7:30 p.m. Fair). No refuge from the Nuge! The Motor City Madman returns, big mouth and even bigger guitar intact and ready to make some noise.
Aug. 13 (Monday)
Little Anthony and the Imperials (8 p.m. Fair).* Doo-wop, old-school soul, R&B -- this classic outfit made a zesty stew from these essential ingredients.
Aug. 14 (Tuesday)
Sheryl Crow (6:30 p.m. Artpark). For many, the highlight of the Tuesday at Artpark season. Crow is touring behind an inspired, soul-drenched new album, "100 Miles From Memphis."
Boston (8 p.m. Fair). Tom Scolz, Gary Pihl, et al, carry on the oft-imitated, never duplicated Boston sound, even in the wake of the tragic death of singer Brad Delp. The band tours infrequently, making this Fair gig a rarity.
Aug. 15 (Wednesday)
Hot Chelle Rae (8 p.m. Fair). Pop-rockers who cut their teeth opening for the likes of Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato make their area headlining debut.
Aug. 16 (Thursday)
Salt-N-Pepa (5 p.m. Harbor).* Nice to see a strong showing for hip-hop on this year's Thursday at the Harbor schedule. This one has dance party written all over it.
Blake Shelton (8 p.m. Fair). This one's gonna be huge. Shelton, already a country music veteran prior to his high-profile gig as a judge on television's "The Voice," is now a household name.
Aug. 17 (Friday)
Kenny Wayne Shepherd (5:30 p.m. Labatt).* This blues-rock virtuoso never disappoints.
Def Leppard with Poison and Lita Ford (7 p.m. DLPAC). Holy hairspray, Batman! A hair-metal holy trinity at Darien Lake.
Aug. 20 (Monday)
Jane's Addiction with Mutemath (7 p.m. Artpark). The booking by which all other summer 2012 rock shows must be measured. "Comin' down the mountain...!"
Aug. 21 (Tuesday)
Roger Hodgson (6:30 p.m. Artpark). The voice and songwriting talent behind the lion's share of Supertramp's most eloquent songs makes his Artpark debut.
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood (7 p.m. Town Ballroom). The Black Crowe flies solo.
Aug. 23 (Thursday)
Matt Nathanson with Lights (5 p.m. Harbor).* Folk-rock singer-songwriter darling Nathanson teams with Lights - aka Valerie Anne Poxleitner - for another of the Harbor season's strongest modern alternative bookings.
Aug. 24 (Friday)
The Tea Party with Melia Maccarone and Nelson Starr & the Benjamins (5:30 p.m. Labatt).* If Jeff Martin and Co. are half as amazing as they were last year at this same venue, we are in for a real treat!
Aug. 25 (Saturday)
Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan (7:30 p.m. DLPAC). A country double-bill pairing two immensely popular heartthrobs.
Aug. 28 (Tuesday)
The Machine performs Pink Floyd (6:30 p.m. Artpark). The band's previous shows at Artpark are already the stuff of legend.
Aug. 31 (Friday)
The J. Geils Band (6 p.m. Rocks). I'll be happy if the play the entire "Full House" album! This is one for the ages, a coup for the Rocks the Harbor series.
Sept. 1 (Saturday)
LL Cool J featuring DJ Z-Trip (6 p.m. Rocks). I had the opportunity to catch LL Cool J at the Fallsview Casino a few years ago, and he was a riot. Seeing him on the Harbor stage should be even moreso.
Sept. 4 (Tuesday)
The Charlie Daniels Band (6:30 p.m. Artpark). The Devil went down to Lewiston...
Sept. 8 (Saturday)
Zac Brown Band (7 p.m. DLPAC). The Grammy-winning roots-country ensemble arrives to tout the July release of a new album, "Uncaged."
Sept. 15 (Saturday)
Kiss and Motley Crue (7 p.m. DLPAC). They're old. They're ugly. But they wear makeup, so it's all good! A shock-rock tour de force.
Amy Grant (8:30 p.m. Riviera). The "Queen of Christian Pop" brings her musical optimism to the erstwhile home of the Mighty Wurlitzer.
Key to the Venues
Artpark: Artpark, Lewiston
BD: Bear's Den, Seneca Niagara Casino
CC: Coca-Cola Field
DLPAC: Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
Fair: Erie County Fair, Hamburg
FNC: First Niagara Center
Harbor: Thursday at the Harbor, Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf
HRC: Hard Rock Cafe (outdoors), Niagara Falls
Labatt: Labatt Canal Concert Series
Riviera: Riviera Theatre
Rocks: Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor, Central Wharf
SA: Seneca Allegeny Events Center, Salamanca
SEC: Seneca Events Center, Seneca Niagara Casino
Tralf: Tralf Music Hall
* Free concert