Across the nation, the word "summer" inspires cheers and excitement. In South Florida, however, the impending seasonal shift is usually met with groans and sighs. Low season in Miami has historically meant a tragic lack of events and parties for local music lovers. But several of music's biggest names, along with lesser-known but no less talented acts, are set to come to town. Don't miss these shows visiting South Florida this summer.
U2: The Joshua Tree Tour 2017
Depending upon whom you ask, U2 is either overrated, criminally underrated, one of the greatest bands of all time, or decades past its prime. If you subscribe to the last opinion, U2's latest tour might be the ideal time to catch the foursome onstage. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the group's career-defining album, The Joshua Tree, and the band will mark the milestone by playing the record in its entirety, front-to-back onstage every night of the tour. Translating the album's organic, rootsy sound into a high-tech stadium production might prove challenging, but a chance at hearing the Edge re-create the glimmering guitar intro to "Where the Streets Have No Name"; the driving, resilient gospel of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"; the aching wail of "With or Without You"; and the stinging rage of "Bullet the Blue Sky" will be well worth the experiment. What, had you forgotten how great those songs were in the haze of recent uninspired duds like "Every Breaking Wave"? Then it might be time to revisit them.
Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper takes his rap name from his birth name, Chancellor, but Chance is an apt moniker for someone whose extraordinary story has played out like a Hollywood retelling of a fairy tale. When he was a teenager, his breakout mixtape was uploaded to a file-sharing platform and downloaded more than a million times. The tape's popularity led to a bidding war between record labels, but a few years into his career, Chance seems less interested in money and much more interested in impact. He's been known to forgo digital releases of his music until demand is high and is already a noted philanthropist at the age of 24. His childlike delivery and optimism are breaths of fresh air in today's hip-hop world, and his voice is singular. He played the Fillmore Miami Beach during his Magnificent Coloring World Tour just seven months ago, but when he plays the AAA this summer, he'll know he got there on his own terms.
It's been seven years since Sir Paul graced a Miami stage with his knightly presence, and this time Beatlemaniacs will have a chance to get a bit closer to the most famous bassist in music history. The last time McCartney played in town, he blew the roof off Hard Rock Stadium (then called Sun Life Stadium). This time he'll play a smaller venue: the American Airlines Arena. It's no theater gig, but arenas are about as intimate as it gets for music royalty. McCartney will be more than a decade older than the retiree age he immortalized in "When I'm 64" when he plays here in July, but rather than mending fuses, knitting sweaters, and wasting away, he'll be onstage, outplaying every band of touring 20-somethings. His shows are relentless, three-hour marathons of hit after hit after classic after standard. Though his stories and tributes to former bandmates will sound familiar to die-hards, McCartney takes each tour as an opportunity to dust off never-performed Beatles classics. On the last tour, it was "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite," and with the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper and a new box set looming, tracks from the era-defining album are all but guaranteed. Unfortunately, production delays pushed the Miami tour opener back a couple of days, but on the bright side, it's now a Friday-night show, so have an extra beer (or five).
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Unless you follow country and Americana music closely, you might have missed Jason Isbell. The singer-songwriter and Drive-By Truckers alum's last album, Something More Than Free, went straight to number one on the country charts with little support from country radio, which mostly serves to promote the pop country act du jour. Before that, his 2013 album, Southeastern, was lauded by critics and included in many of the year's best-of lists. His upcoming album, defiantly titled The Nashville Sound, was recorded with his band the 400 Unit and is sure to cement his status as one of the most achingly brilliant songwriters of his generation and of the Americana genre itself, which is undergoing a kind of renaissance with contributions from Nashville peers such as Sturgill Simpson and Margo Price.
Jay Z called himself the new Sinatra first. But rapper Logic loves Old Blue Eyes so much that he named his mixtape Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever, and calls his creative team the Ratt Pack. Now Logic, barely 27 years old and in his career's infancy, is once again following in Jay Z's footsteps by announcing early retirement. After dropping his latest studio album, Everybody, this past May 5, Logic announced his next album will be his last. "I just want to end everything with a really big bang and get the fuck out of here," he told Genius. "Better to go out on top like Jerry Seinfeld, nine seasons, number one fucking show in the world, over a billion dollars." Something tells us his plans might change, but in case they don't, catch this rising star live before he retires.
8 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, at Bayfront Park Amphitheater, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-358-7550; livenation.com/venues/15031/bayfront-park-amphitheater. Tickets cost $35 to $365 via ticketmaster.com.
Khalid: The American Teen Tour
You might need to hit up StubHub for this one. After initially announcing a South Florida tour stop at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale, R&B singer Khalid relocated his concert to the Fillmore Miami Beach due to high demand. The singer-songwriter's career is heating up at a feverish pace, and his prospects have only escalated after the release of his single "Location," which generated a considerable amount of online buzz, making him eligible for overnight-success status. The 19-year-old Khalid recently began making late-night TV promotional appearances for his debut album, American Teen, but at this meteoric pace, he might be upgrading to arenas soon enough.
Blondie & Garbage: The Rage and Rapture Tour
They say the master has succeeded when the student surpasses his or her level of skill. Shirley Manson and Garbage haven't necessarily usurped Debbie Harry and Blondie's level of success or influence, but they owe their existence as a female-fronted rock act to CBGB's New Wave pioneers. Both bands have extended their careers on the road well past their pop-cultural saturation peaks in the '70s, '80s, and '90s, and though their most dedicated devotees have supported both bands on tour after tour throughout the years, a chance to see the masters sharing a bill with their disciples is too good to pass up even for the most casual of fans.
J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only Tour
Much like Jason Isbell and Chance the Rapper have done in their respective genres, J. Cole has defied conventional wisdom about marketing, and profiting from, music in the digital era. It's become a meme at this point: J. Cole goes platinum with no features. 4 Your Eyez Only, his followup to the acclaimed 2014 Forest Hills Drive, did not receive the same level of crazed praise as its predecessor, but nevertheless it also rocketed straight to number one on the Billboard charts with almost no promotion. He has the spirit and drive of an indie artist, but songs like "Crooked Smile" were made to be played in arenas.
Behold the freedom an artist can enjoy once her public spotlight has faded. Gray is best known for 1999's Grammy-winning song "I Try," but she's been out of the pop game for the past couple of years while she experiments with a genre her husky voice was meant to deliver: jazz. Her intimate set at the luxurious Faena Theater, a cabaret-style, 150-seat space, will be a throwback to the golden era of jazz performances in small clubs and speakeasies, when performers had the chance to interact more closely with the audience and tailor the experience night to night. You'll still hear a reworked version of "I Try," along with jazz reinterpretations of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" and Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," plus cuts from her 2016 live-recorded jazz album Stripped.
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Kendrick Lamar: The Damn Tour, With YG & D.R.A.M.
It's safe to say King Kendrick's concert at the AAA is the most hotly anticipated show of the summer, if only because for most South Florida fans, his visit is long overdue. Sure, Lamar blessed the stages of the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival last year and Rolling Loud in early May, but fans who were unable to shell out hundreds of dollars for tickets to either festival have been waiting with bated breath for a solo tour stop since 2015's jazz-infused masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly. Unfortunately, much like his late mentor Prince didn't think the world was ready to hear the music in his vault, Lamar thought the masses weren't yet ready to hear To Pimp a Butterfly live, so save for a handful of theater shows and festival appearances, most of the world is still waiting. In the meantime, Lamar released Untitled Unmastered, a compilation of B-sides from the To Pimp a Butterfly sessions, and Damn, his return to a harder, more traditional hip-hop sound. Here's hoping he touches on all of them, along with songs from his first masterpiece — Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City — when he wraps up the summer concert season in early September.