Words & Deeds

3 free Boise concert series you gotta do this summer — with band schedules

Concerts sound better when they’re free.

While there has been no scientific study commissioned to support this, it’s easy enough to prove when you live in Boise.

During summer, we rock outdoors — gratis — every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Already in full swing, Alive After Five packs The Grove Plaza in Downtown Boise on Wednesdays.

Thursday Thunder kicked off last week and lures festive folks to the Boise Spectrum each week.

And Rock the Village fires up July 7 at The Village at Meridian’s fountain square.

Have you tried out all three? Hey, I have. Each weekly festival has its own distinct vibe, not to mention a specialized approach to the types of bands it showcases.

If you don’t visit each of these at least once to find your partying sweet spot, you’re missing out.

Alive After Five

▪ 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, The Grove Plaza, 827 W. Main St., downtownboise.org

If you’ve lived in Boise for more than a minute, you’ve probably sipped a cold one at Alive After Five. It’s a people-watching mecca. And thanks to fresh renovations at The Grove Plaza, the three-decade-old series is feeling rejuvenated. Kids frolic in a new state-of-the-art fountain while Boiseans socialize and listen to touring headliners and local openers.

This year’s music lineup is diverse enough to be interesting. But, as always, it never strays into extreme territory.

June 28: Jamie McLean Band: The former guitarist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band now leads his own gritty rock group. Local opener: Tylor & The Train Robbers.

July 5: Jeff Crosby and The Refugees. An Americana singer, songwriter and guitarist, Crosby is an Idaho native. Local opener: Thistledown.

July 12: Riffbrokers. This “power-pop twang” band hails from Seattle but has Boise roots. Local opener: Red Light Challenge.

July 19: Magic Giant. An indie-folk act from Los Angeles, Magic Giant is a scheduling highlight. If you’re into bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, you need to check out this act. Local opener: Pure Ivy.

July 26: Dead Winter Carpenters. An alt-country quintet from Lake Tahoe, this band has shared the stage with groups such as Yonder Mountain String Band and The Infamous Stringdusters. Local opener: Jonathan Warren and The Billy Goats.

Aug. 2: Super Doppler. Super Doppler is the new name of Major and the Monbacks, a Virginia band influenced by horn-laced rock from the 1960s and 1970s. Local opener: Haywire Hopefuls.

Aug. 9: Scars on 45. Another highlight of this season, indie-pop band Scars on 45 has cruised over from the United Kingdom and made Boise feel like its home away from home. Local opener: Know Reaction.

Aug. 16: The Juke Daddys. An exception to the out-of-state band rule, The Juke Daddys are a rockabilly trio from Idaho City. The trio has toured the Northwest and represented the Boise Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in 2013. Local opener: Blues Addicts and Brass Tacks.

Aug. 23: Jon Wayne and the Pain. Prepare to dance. Based in the Twin Cities, this group combines electronic beats with roots-reggae and trippy funk. Local opener: Rebecca Scott Band.

Aug. 30: Leeroy Stagger. Alive After Five will end its season with prolific Canadian singer-songwriter Leeroy Stagger. His 11th studio album, “Lover Versus,” was released earlier this year. Local opener: Low-Fi.

Thursday Thunder

▪ 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, Boise Spectrum courtyard, 7609 W. Overland Road, Boise, boisespectrumcenter.com.

Headed to Edwards 21 Cinemas to a movie? Or do you live on the south side of the freeway? Check out Thursday Thunder. You’ll find seating, shade, specials, raffle drawings for movie tickets and giveaways for gift certificates to Legends Pub & Grill. Thursday Thunder favors local cover bands, and most of the acts booked this year are proven hits-cranking machines.

June 29: $oul Purpo$e. Think summer. As in Donna Summer. Or “Disco Inferno.” Boise’s disco cover band brings the heat.

July 13: Big Wow. This cover band is all over the map and wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ll hear modern hits from acts such as Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, songs from country favorites such as Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts, and old-school tunes from legends such as Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin.

July 20: Simple Ruckus. Like Big Wow, Simple Ruckus plows through a variety of genres playing recognizable hits.

July 27: Afrosonics. An exception among the stream of cover bands, this groove-driven Afro-indie act blends hopeful, retro-inspirational lyrics with slick keys and African rhythm influences.

Aug. 3: Pilot Error. A staple of Thursday Thunder, Pilot Error favors melodic classic rock. Think hits such as “Renegade,” “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” and “Hotel California.”

Aug. 10: Big Wow.

Aug. 17: $oul Purpo$e.

Aug. 24: The Fabulous Chancellors. This is a good one for baby boomers who want to hear rock ‘n’ roll classics. The Fabulous Chancellors’ song list includes hits from acts such as the Byrds, Beatles, Beach Boys and Kinks.

Aug. 31: Pilot Error.

Rock the Village

▪ 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays, Fountain Square at The Village at Meridian, 3600 E. Fairview Ave., Meridian, thevillageatmeridian.com.

If you love Queen, the Eagles or Elton John, Rock the Village has you covered. Rock the Village mostly showcases touring, out-of-state cover bands that take things to the next level — tribute-band level. Show up early to get a prime spot in front of the stage, which is more professional-looking than you might expect at a free shopping-center gig. The place can get crowded. Grab a seat and order restaurant food at one of the seven patios surrounding fountain square.

July 7: Queen Nation. This California tribute band claims that its “live 90-minute production of Queen’s greatest hits preserves the image, sound, and stage persona of vintage Queen.” Imagine how fun it will be to down another beer and sing “Another One Bites the Dust”? Local opener: Ned Evett Electric Band.

July 14: The Famous Undercover. This Idaho band delivers Top 40 hits from the past four decades. Opener: Rebecca Scott Band.

July 21: Rhythm Addicts. This Utah party band specializes in dance hits ranging from pop and funk to R&B and Motown — but also offers classic rock tunes from bands such as Foreigner and Boston. Local opener: Dan Costello Trio.

July 28: Stone in Love. Another next-level cover band, this Journey tribute from Portland will unleash favorites such as “Separate Ways,” Wheel in the Sky” and “Any Way You Want It.” Local opener: Four Penny Peep Show.

Aug. 4: All New High Street Party Band. Based in Nampa, this seven-piece group of zoot suit dudes performs hits from the 1940s through today. Expect a party. Opener: Pamela DeMarche Band.

Aug. 11: The Fabulous Chancellors. Opener: Blues Addicts.

Aug. 18: Elton: The Early Years. If you dig Elton John, you’ll get a kick out of seeing musician Steve Metcalf wear the flamboyant costumes and tickle the ivories. This is a tribute to 1970s Elton, meaning fans will hear classics such as “Levon,” “Rocket Man,” “Honky Cat” and “Benny and the Jets.” Local opener: Steve Eaton and The Grateful Dudes.

Aug. 25: The Long Run. When I saw this band last year at Rock the Village, the place was packed. Why? Because everyone loves a top-notch Eagles tribute. All I can say is man, that drummer really does sound like Don Henley. Local opener: New Transit.

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