A Summer of Concerts: Touring Through the Decades

Summer 2014: 11 bands. 3 states. 7 venues.

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Broken Bells at Fox Theater, Oakland, CA

1. Broken Bells, The Fox Theater, Oakland, CA
This concert accidentally kicked off the summer of concerts. I had no idea who this band was but when my friend told me she had an extra ticket and that the lead singer was the guy from The Shins, I had to check it out. We all remember that Garden State soundtrack, am I right?
Excellent band with an even better light and video show.
We saw them at The Fox Theater in Oakland which is not only one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen, but the acoustics were unreal. I highly recommend going there at least once. This venue coincidentally started and ended the summer and was the only repeat venue.
Broken Bells is what you would call a super band: consisting of James Mercer (The Shins) and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse). They have a really amazing and unique sound that this venue was able to capture in all of it’s perfection.

2. 3. & 4. Smash Mouth, Weezer, Heart BottleRock, Napa, CA

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Heart at BottleRock 2014

I attended BottleRock this year solely to see Heart: one of my favorite bands of all time. I waited an hour and a half to get in the front row. So worth it. Up until this time, it was the most amazing concert I had ever been to.
Ann and Nancy brought it! No recording could ever do them justice. Ann’s incredibly powerful voice, Nancy’s guitar playing and randomly busting out into Led Zeppelin songs…chills. Heart out-played Outcast who had the same time slot on a different stage…these ladies still know how to rock out! I saw SmashMouth and Weezer earlier that day with my friends but then had to ditch them when they asked, “who’s Heart?” And “isn’t Outkast playing then?” Kids…

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Smash Mouth performing during BottleRock 2014

5. James Taylor Red Rocks Amphitheater, CO


My friend and I won the March Madness bracket at work and decided that a trip to Red Rocks in Colorado to see James Taylor was in order. I grew up with JT (the original) and thought that if I was going to see him, I had to do it right. Hence, Red Rocks: a stunning amphitheater built into the Colorado Rocky mountains.

Red Rocks Amphitheater

There was a big storm up until an hour before he played. So during his entire performance there was a lightning show going on behind him. There was literally fire and rain.

Front row seats at Sarah McLachlan!

6. Sarah McLachlan Hearst Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley, CA

I bought front row tickets the day of to this show from a radio station that was practically giving them away online. I’ve always been a huge fan of hers but getting to see her perform made me love her that much more. Such a sweet person and one of my favorite female voices. She brought in a lot of personal elements and made it more of a “hanging out with Sarah for an evening” than a typical concert. She answered questions from fans, had a couch on stage, and brought social media winners up to join her. The venue is a small, intimate space great for seeing a more “chill” artist.

Sarah McLachlan Hearst Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley, CA

7. & 8. Def Leppard & Kiss Sleep Train Amphitheater, Wheatland, CA, 40th anniversary tour

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Waiting for Def Leppard to come on!

Talk about aging well! Both of these bands not only sounded better than they did 20 years ago, but looked better too. I mean Kiss wearing all that makeup…they don’t really age anyway, but regardless, they looked great.
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Def Leppard with their one-armed drummer…Kiss flying all over the amphitheater putting on probably the same performance they did when they were 20…insane. I wouldn’t be surprised if they toured for another 40 years.


9. & 10. Slash & Aerosmith Harvey’s Outdoor Arena, Lake Tahoe, NV

I was driving up to Lake Tahoe for a girls weekend when my friend discovered that Slash and Aerosmith were performing that night.
So…yeah. We had to go.
Great little venue. Slash killed it, still rocked the hair, and even played a few Guns N’ Roses songs.
Steven Tyler: there aren’t words. His voice…his screaming during “Dream On” while on top of a piano with fire and a wind machine…it was a spiritual experience. photo 3

HEART AGAIN! Wells Fargo Center, Santa Rosa, CA

Picks from Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart

Couldn’t get enough. When they came into town, naturally I was in the front row absorbing the magic of Ann and Nancy again.
However, this was not the right venue for them. It was a tiny, uppity, members-only type of concert hall where everyone just wanted to sit down and go home before 9. We actually got yelled at to sit down…during CRAZY ON YOU…WHAT? I mean…we didn’t…but still…
Oh and we got picks! Yay!

11. Sam Smith Fox Theater, Oakland CA
Saved the best for last. We call him Mandele because he’s the man version of Adele: Man-dele.
Best concert of the summer.
Sam Smith has the voice of an angel. He was so sweet and happy and very humbled by everyone’s reaction to his performance. It was such an emotionally overwhelming show. For being such a new artist, his show was put together incredibly well. Everything was perfect. All of his upcoming shows are sold out but if you get a chance to see him, it will be the best concert you ever go to.

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All in all an unforgettable summer. Great shows. Great artists. Great memories.

Hmmm maybe I’ll do it again next year…