10. San Francisco Symphony’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular, Shoreline Amphitheater, July 4 For a lot of people who are used to rocking their heads off at Shoreline, the San Francisco Symphony may seem like a bummer. However, the SF Symphony always finds a way to make their stadium shows count.
In the past, they’ve injected broad appeal into their 4th of July appearances by taking on movie scores and the Star Trek soundtrack (with special guest appearance by unlikely comeback king George Takei). Who knows what they’ve got up their immaculately-tailored sleeves this year, but it’s worth the reasonable price of admission.
9. Bands on the Beach, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Jun 17 – Sept 2 – OK, so the Boardwalk’s “Bands on the Beach” usually isn’t that much of a draw in and of itself. These are bands that, like you on your spur-of-the-moment Friday evening trip to the Boardwalk, don’t really have a busy schedule. The Boardwalk’s summer concerts are organized more out of tradition than popular demand, and who are you to break tradition? Get down to Santa Cruz this year for free performances from Eric Burdon, Berlin, and all kinds of other classic-rock radio favorites.
8. Montalvo Arts Center Summer Series, Montalvo Arts Center, June 9 – Aug 27 – During the summer, Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga lighten things up a little bit with a full lineup of throwback acts. This year’s lineup starts with Brian McKnight and ends with Air Supply.
7. The Mountain Winery Summer Series, The Mountain Winery, June 8 – Oct 8 – Summer in Saratoga can really only mean one thing, and that’s that the Mountain Winery stage will soon be graced by a wide range of appealing performers, from Diana Krall to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and even comedians like Kathy Griffin and Lewis Black.
6. Jason Webley and Corpus Callosum, Anno Domini, June 19th – If you’ve never experienced Jason Webley before, you’re going to want to drop by Anno Domini on June 19th to see what he’s all about before he disappears indefinitely on 11/11/11 (Google it). Appearing with Santa Clara’s Corpus Callosum, expect accordions, sing-alongs, and to be introduced to an “effective and rather economical” method of achieving drunkenness, sans alcohol.
5. Warped Tour, Shoreline Amphitheater, July 2 – It’s almost unbelievable that Warped Tour is now as old as its core audience and is still going strong. It’s even more unbelievable knowing that the fans kept coming after they moved its regular Bay Area stop from the San Francisco piers to the further-afield Shoreline Amphitheater. This year’s lineup is headlined by Against Me!, Paramore, and Gym Class Heroes.
4. NKOTBSB, HP Pavilion, July 11—Facebook began buzzing about this show all the way back in January (or maybe it’s just the kinds of people we surround ourselves with in this office). Grown-up girls get to relive the ‘90s all over again when both New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys join harmonized, falsetto forces on July 11th to woo their now-adult fans one more time.
3. BFD, Shoreline Amphitheater, June 5th – BFD is always, well, a BFD around the Bay Area. Always a distillation of the year’s hottest bands and enduring headliners, this year’s lineup includes The Limousines, The Strokes, and Snoop Dogg. Yes. Snoop Dogg.
2. SubZERO Festival, Downtown San Jose, June 3—Downtown San Jose’s SubZERO festival isn’t strictly music, but the music they do bring in are always the buzzworthiest in the valley. This year’s lineup is packed with tons of local favorites like Benjamin Henderson, Corpus Callosum, and The Emerald Hill.
Plaza de Cesar Chavez, June 2 – Aug 5—OK, yes, we’re very biased. What we like most about Music in the Park is that it’s not really at all about the music. It’s more about the local vendors, the late afternoon sun setting behind the downtown skyline, running into people from your past, and getting to know your city all over again.