Alibi V.25 No.18 • May 5-11, 2016 

Summer Guide 2016

Ever Been to Concert Heaven?

Be a good neighbor and go see some shows

ZZ Top
ZZ Top
Craig O’Neal
Summertime is concert time, thought August March as he sat down to write what might have been his most comprehensive look yet at how the thing called music had successfully infiltrated human culture. It was clearly evident, he further reasoned, that there was a seasonal upsurge in participation at outdoor, quasi-ritualistic performances and demonstrations where all sorts of tuneage—from folk to hip-hop, from the vanguard through the nostalgic—briefly came into being, filling listeners with wonder and exhilaration, before being dispersed across the thirsty desert like a soaking rain.

Of course dancing would ensue. And the abandonment of sturdy shoes and constricting clothing might likely follow. These sorts of activities should be unbelievably fun, August rightly assumed. They would be the sorts of experiences that happen in dreams, he concluded.

By using his familiarity with the species and their habits, as well as his ability to use their interweb computer technology to confirm his heady postulations, March was able to come up with a fine list of events that advanced his main idea.

Basing his investigation within practical geographic and temporal boundaries—the Levitation Festival in Austin had been cancelled due to weather and Glastonbury was an ocean away—March was sure to get to the truth of the matter while also having a damn good time.

Two large, outdoor concert venues on either end of the human settlement known as Albuquerque were good places to begin, he reasoned.

Sandia Casino and Resort (30 Rainbow NE) has a plethora of concerts lined up for the season, he noted as he collapsed into a large armchair in the middle of his living room to read the local alternative newsweekly. Heck, they even have a full-page color ad attesting to the fact. In June, soulful R&B featuring the quiet storm stylings of Maxwell will be the focus late in the month, while earlier, the pueblo party palace offers a show intent on exhibiting the roots of rap.

The “I Love the ‘90s Tour”, landing on June 19 includes performances by Salt-N- Pepper, Tone Loc and Coolio. That’s just the beginning of a set of seasonal offerings that embodies an OG vibe with shows by The Goo Goo Dolls, Steve Miller Band, Boz Skaggs, and Huey Lewis & The News. Oh, and fucking ZZ Top in late September.

Tone Loc: “Funky Cold Medina”

On the other side of the expansive city, the Isleta Amphitheater (5601 University SE) also has a summery schedule of musical diversions planned, albeit with a more rocking aura of aural expanses available for consumption by citizens of all sorts. “Check this out,” said March to his gathered cohort of aging dogs as his mouse scrolled and scrolled.

Though the Janet Jackson concert has been postponed until 2017, Slipknot invades the joint on June 19, just before the solstice sends them fleeing back to the darkness that spawned them. In July, Rob Zombie hits it with some unknown group of former rock stars known as Korn. And on Sept. 9, Black Sabbath will appear, even as summer grows fecund and Ozzy’s vocal range continues to ripen. A legendary hair band whose drummer has but one arm will end the season on Sept. 19 at Isleta resoundingly, rockingly three days before the autumnal equinox. They are called Def Leppard and master piano tuners REO Speedwagon open.

Black Sabbath: “Paranoid”

As March continued to research the phenomenon of seeming summer concert madness, it occurred to him that he had the choice of staying close to home or venturing out to the forbidden zone east of here to solve his festival feels. “What the hell,” he mused, It’s gotta be worth the trip, what with all the sunshine, food trucks, ancillary hot rod displays and sanitary, uni-sex porta potties that await.”

The City of Albuquerque’s Summerfest certainly fit the description of the former. With events planned at numerous in-town locations, Summerfest begins on Saturday, June 11, at 5pm at North Domingo Baca Park (7521 Carmel NE) with a performance by cross-genre musical magicians Rusted Root.

The festival continues on Saturday, July 16, in conjunction with the New Mexico Jazz Festival. This second iteration of city-sponsored, solstice-centered good times lasts throughout the day, from 2-10:30pm, in the midst of the Nob Hill District (on Central between Girard and Washington). Legendary keyboard player Booker T. Jones and New Orleans hipster chanteuse Nikki Hill headline.

Nikki Hill: “If You Want Blood”, “Rocker” (AC/DC)

In August (ironically, the month for which our saturnine author is named) Summerfest moves across town, touching down briefly at Civic Plaza (1 Civic Plaza NW) for the evening of Saturday, August 6, from 5-10pm. The Wailers, a historically notable and contemporarily cool reggae outfit, take the stage for this iteration of the traditional gathering before it moves on.

Two weeks later, Summerfest will hover like a monsoon on the Westside, concluding thunderously with a concert by bluesy pop-rockers Big Head Todd & the Monsters on Saturday August 20. This final version of this year’s sultry fiesta takes place from 5-10:30pm on Ellison between Alameda and Cottonwood.

Big Head Todd & the Monsters: “Bittersweet”

At this point in his research, March remembered that he had considered—in a previous paragraph whose existence provided evidence of his swiss-cheese-like short term memory—going out beyond the shadows of the mountains and the volcanos in search of outdoors-based melodic encounters. Clearly the best case scenario here would have to be the Fourth Annual Rockabilly on the Route Festival, happening in Tucumcari, N.M. from June 2-5.

Sure, it is a long, hot drive out toward the evil state of Tejas—on a confusingly fast motor carriage-way—that would enable communion with a group of humans who favor a particularly wanton flavor of rocanrol. But as mentioned before, March thought it to be well worth the privations of automobile travel just to witness first hand the mysterious rockabilly culture at its finest.

With bands that had names like Galactic Polecats, Tex Railer’s Doomtown, The Shadowmen and Rockin’ Ryan & the Real Goners, how could anything possibly go wrong, thought March. Adding to the aural allure of such ensembles, pool tournaments, pin-up contests and a Tiki Pool Party made Rockabilly on the Route seem like the best opportunity available to witness New Mexican summer music festival lifestyles up close and personal.

Galactic Polecats: “Two Bits (For The Reaper)”

Tickets for the festival are just $45 in advance and $60 on the day Rockabilly on the Route begins, August told his wife as she walked by his home office. She wanted to inform him that the library had mailed him an overdue notice regarding a copy of Blue Velvet, the movie upon which he based much of his theories of American culture.

Tex Railer’s Doomtown: “That’s Alright”, “Folsom Prison Blues”

“Sit down,” he said, “let me tell you about all the ginchy summer concerts coming our way.” When she appeared impatient with his customary obsessions, March added, “See that clock on the wall? In five minutes you are not going to believe what I've told you.”