Washington Area Summer Rock Concerts

Friday, May 29, 2009

June 6

David Byrne

Wolf Trap, $25-$45

David Byrne has spent the past 30 years constantly moving forward. Also sideways, diagonally -- basically every direction but backward. The twitchy, nervous energy of Talking Heads helped define New York's punk scene in the '70s before the band became one of the '80s great pop acts. He founded world music label Luaka Bop. He dabbled in ballet, opera and visual art. His solo career has been the right mix of mind-bending and accessible. His current release, "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today," is his second collaboration with aural alchemist, Brian Eno. (Okay, just a hint of looking back.) It's a beautiful combination of folk, gospel and electronic music, but even if that's not your thing, don't fret: You'll hear some Talking Heads classics, too.

June 21

Camera Obscura

9:30 club, $18

Like many U.K. bands, Camera Obscura shines brightest on its singles. The Scottish sextet's albums are remarkably consistent, but there are always about three gems from each batch that particularly stand out and lodge themselves snugly in your brain. So simple math dictates that catching the band as it tours with its newest album, "My Maudlin Career," would be an ideal time to see the indie-pop classicists. If early singles "Eighties Fan" and "Suspended From Class" were like subtle black-and-white movies, new standouts "French Navy" and "The Sweetest Thing" burst in vibrant technicolor, all sweeping strings and bouncy backing vocals but never losing their bittersweet touch.

July 5

Jay Reatard

Black Cat, $12

Obscured by the juvenile name, song-a-minute pace, mess of flying hair and Flying V guitars is the fact that 29-year-old Reatard (ne Jay Lindsay) is a punk-rock tunesmith without peer. The Memphis native has been bashing out hyperspeed, Ramones-influenced songs since he was a teenager but last year's "Matador Singles '08" found him hitting the perfect sweet spot of pure adrenaline rush and pop perfection. When he plays live with his band, though, it's all about the former half of the equation: yelping, thrashing and barely enough time between songs to catch your breath.

July 24

Bob Dylan

Ripken Stadium, $67.50

A Bob Dylan show in 2009 is as much a living history lesson as a concert. So skip that trip to Williamsburg and take the kids to Aberdeen, Md., to see the single greatest artist of the 20th century. (Seriously, take them: Kids 14 and younger get in free.) Dylan's decade-long comeback continues with this year's "Together Through Life," another gently rollicking trip down America's musical memory lane, with nods to the pre-rock-and-roll sounds of Chess and Sun Records. His voice may be more shot than Bonnie and Clyde's death car, but it's still hard not to get goose bumps during classics such as "Like a Rolling Stone" or "Blowin' in the Wind." Fellow American icon Willie Nelson opens.

July 28

Depeche Mode

Nissan Pavilion, $29.50-$89.50

There are countless '80s DJ nights clogging up clubs around town. There is only one Depeche Mode. And if it weren't for the synth-pop pioneers, well, maybe it would be easier for a band to get a show booked on a weekend. The sheer volume of dance floor anthems the band has written is staggering; "Personal Jesus," "Enjoy the Silence," "People Are People" and "Policy of Truth" only scratch the surface. The best tracks from new album "Sounds of the Universe" are more than just bathroom break fare, with singer Dave Gahan and songwriter Martin Gore teaming up for more delightfully dramatic songs about love, lust, betrayal and fear.

July 29

Green Day

Verizon Center, $49.50

If you were to take a poll in the mid-'90s on which then-current band would go on to become the respected elder statesmen of alternative rock a decade and a half later, Green Day probably would have ranked somewhere between the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Butthole Surfers. But lo and behold, Billie Joe Armstrong is now Gen X's rock-and-roll conscience while still appealing to kids who weren't born when the band flung mud at Woodstock '94. "21st Century Breakdown" and "American Idiot" are big albums with big songs about even bigger ideas. And Armstrong is savvy enough to make sure the hooks are still the biggest element of all.

-- David Malitz

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company