As soon as temperatures rise, so does interest in summer concerts. Friends, relatives, even strangers at the grocery check-out can't resist asking: "Are the Rolling Stones coming? Bruce Springsteen? Paul McCartney? The Eagles? Fleetwood Mac? Cher? Metallica?"
Many of the biggest acts simply aren't touring this summer.
But, instead of Metallica, what if I told you that Tool is looking like a real possibility at the Idaho Center Amphitheater? And that "American Idol" star Carrie Underwood has a good shot at performing in Nampa? Or that Bruce Hornsby will do a scenic show in Eagle?
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"Everything's not announced yet," said Katrina Lemmon, marketing manager at the Idaho Center. "... It's just barely started getting to be 90 degrees!"
Yeah, but, but, but ... we're ready to rock now.
Lemmon is right; more concerts will sneak out of the woodwork. But as June approaches, we can get a pretty good idea of what sort of concert season it's going to be.
When the Idaho Center Amphitheater opened in 1998, it attracted 45,000 people for seven shows. Shania Twain alone drew more than 10,000 fans.
Those days are over. Fewer heavyweights are touring. Plus, many shows are going indoors.
Even the scenic Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash., has only announced four tours thus far: Sasquatch!, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam and the Warped Tour.
"Regionally, as a whole, there's a lack of outdoor shows," Lemmon said. "But the upside of it all is that we're doing a lot of indoor stuff this summer."
Ah, air conditioning. The Black Eyed Peas are sold out tonight at the Idaho Center. Plus, there's the massive Tim McGraw/Faith Hill gig Aug. 6. And the Red Hot Chili Peppers will hit Taco Bell Arena Aug. 15.
Still, it's hard not to obsess about gorgeous outdoor Idaho.
Here in the Treasure Valley, Nine Inch Nails will kick off the season at the Idaho Center Amphitheater next weekend. (I'm betting that Goth opener Bauhaus will melt in the sun.) Sammy Hagar/Michael Anthony should do about 4,000 fans there Aug. 8. Def Leppard/Journey is still planned, too — indoors or out — Sept. 2.
Warped, July 14 at Treasure Valley Speedway in Eagle, would have been at the Idaho Amphitheater, but there was a scheduling conflict.
And what about a quick Idaho road trip? Classic rockers The Doobie Brothers and Little River Band will gig Aug. 21 at Sun Valley Outdoor Pavilion and Aug. 22 at Tamarack Pavilion. Acoustic act Nickel Creek will play outdoors Aug. 12 in Sun Valley. So will Rosanne Cash (Aug. 24) and Bonnie Raitt (Aug. 31), both at River Run. Country singer Trace Adkins has been booked Sept. 2 at Brundage Mountain Amphitheater. (Tickets for Widespread Panic at Brundage go on sale today.) You'll also see Toad the Wet Sprocket and Big Head Todd & The Monsters at The Big Easy's alley party Aug. 9.
Indoors, The Big Easy will be slammed for three months.
"There's at least 50 to 75 shows in the club this summer," said Greg Marchant, vice-president and talent buyer for Bravo Entertainment.
Built To Spill will perform at The Big Easy on June 3 ($21 at TicketWeb, beginning at 10 a.m. today.) And veteran roots-punk band Social Distortion will headline there July 12 ($26, TicketWeb, also 10 a.m. today.)
Bravo also has booked Bruce Hornsby for an outdoor show July 17 at The Winery at Eagle Knoll.
I've got my own wish list: Steely Dan is on the road this summer. Roger Waters is doing "The Dark Side of the Moon." A Black Crowes/Drive-By Truckers/Robert Randolph gig would be great. A New Cars/Blondie show would be interesting.
I'm hopeful but not counting on any of them. As Hornsby puts it, that's just the way it is.