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Top 20 concerts of the summer

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Bruce Springsteen AP 2014

Bruce Springsteen looks ready to kick of this year's summer concert season. AP Photo / 2014

Sure, the calendar says June 21, but the summer concert season officially starts today when Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band take the stage at MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa. Continuing through September, our region will welcome some of the greatest pop, rock, country, hip-hop and electronic dance music acts. Check out our picks for the biggest shows of the summer, plus a couple personal favorites thrown in for good measure.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, May 1, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre; livenation.com

Springsteen’s back wowing fans with songs culled from his new record “High Hopes” as well as gems from such iconic albums as “Born to Run” and “Born in the U.S.A.” He’s also playing obscure covers and audience “sign requests.” Tom Morello, the former Rage Against the Machine guitarist who played a prominent role on “High Hopes,” is a special guest for this tour. – Wade Tatangelo

R. Kelly, May 1, Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa; ticketmaster.com

Female fans have thrown so many panties to Tom Jones on stage, he could open a chain of lingerie stores. Does R. Kelly have the same impact? You can find out tonight when he brings his “Black Panties” tour to the Forum. He has loads of hits to heat up the place – “Bump N’ Grind,” “I Believe I Can Fly,” “I’m Your Angel,” “Ignition,” etc. – Gerry Galipault

Big Guava Music Festival, May 2-4, MIDFLORIDA Amp; bigguavafest.com

Outkast AP 2014

OutKast performs at the 2014 Coachella Music and Arts Festival on Friday, April 18, 2014, in Indio, Calif. (Photo by Zach Cordner/Invision/AP)

This is the biggest festival to hit the area in years. A reunited OutKast is the big headliner, along with Vampire Weekend, Foster the People, Tegan and Sara, Cake, Girl Talk, Violent Femmes, and many more. It'll be more than just a music fest; there will be unlimited free thrill rides at Florida State Fairgrounds, plus 40 food trucks, craft beers and more. – Gerry Galipault

Tropical Heatwave, May 9-10, venues in and around the Cuban Club, Ybor City; wmnf.org

The 33rd annual event by Tampa-based community radio station WMNF (88.5) features another exciting, diverse lineup that includes national headliners such as rockers The Hold Steady and alt-country favorite Hayes Carll as well as local and regional acts. Sarasota is being represented by jam band Come Back Alice, folky indie pop duo Good Graeff and psych-rock band Sons of Hippies. Funk-bluegrass outfit The AppleButter Express is based in Tampa but formed in Bradenton. – Wade Tatangelo

Rakim with Slick Rick, May 10, Jannus Live; jannuslive.com

The show is rightfully billed as “Legends of Hip Hop,” with Rakim widely considered one of the most influential MCs of all time largely thanks to his work with beat-maker Eric B. on the classic, late-1980s albums “Paid in Full” and “Follow the Leader.” Slick Rick maintains a reputation as one of rap’s finest storytellers and was an early purveyor of the pimp attitude thanks to his 1988 album “The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.” – Wade Tatangelo

Lady Antebellum, May 17, MIDFLORIDA Amp; livenation.com

One of country music’s top acts since debuting on the scene nearly seven years ago, Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood are best known for glossy yet dramatic songs like “Need You Now” and “Just a Kiss” but have also had success with more cheerful, twangy numbers such as “Compass.” Joe Nichols (“Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”) and Billy Currington (“People Are Crazy”) open. – Wade Tatangelo

97X Backyard BBQ, May 17, at Vinoy Waterfront Park, St. Petersburg; 97xonline.com/s/2014-bbq

Bastille (of "Pompeii" fame) is the main attraction at this all-ages event in picturesque Vinoy Park along St. Pete's bayfront. Also on the bill: The 1975, Sleeper Agent, Kongos, Bad Suns, Skaters, The Orwells, etc. Best of all, it's free ... provided you grab a ticket at one of 97X's ticket drops (see website). Or you can buy a $20 ticket through Ticketmaster. – Gerry Galipault

Lucinda Williams, May 24, Capitol Theatre, Clearwater; atthecap.com

Lucinda Williams AP 2014

Lucinda Williams performs at the 31st Annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards  on April 23, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

The queen of alt-country and one of my favorite singer-songwriters of any genre, Lucinda Williams delivered a stirring performance marked by her sultry vocals, piercing lyrics and potent backing band at Jannus Live in 2004. She wouldn’t return to the region until seven years later, for an equally gripping performance at the same venue. Williams makes her debut at the Capitol Theatre following the 25th anniversary re-release of her masterful self-title album that includes such memorable originals as “Passionate Kisses,” “Crescent City” and “Changed the Locks” – songs which have been covered by the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Emmylou Harris and Tom Petty. – Wade Tatangelo

Sunset Music Festival, May 24-25, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa; smftampa.com

For EDM fans, the Bucs’ home field will be their mecca. Techno, disco, house, trap and trance sounds will fill the Ray Jay, with the likes of Zedd, Benny Benassi, Krewella, Hardwell, The Crystal Method and the just-added Paul van Dyk.– Gerry Galipault

Zac Brown Band, May 29-30, MIDFLORIDA Amp; livenation.com

How big is Georgia country star Zac Brown? He’s playing not one but two dates at Tampa’s 20,000-capacity amphitheatre. Expect massive sing-alongs of the back-porch anthem “Chicken Fried,” the superb beach song “Toes” and others such as Brown’s most recent single, the romantic ballad “Sweet Annie.” Not to be missed, opener Kacey Musgraves is the singer-songwriter whose poignant “Merry Go Round,” which won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song in February. – Wade Tatangelo

Weezer, Rays Summer Concert Series, June 7 (4:10 p.m. vs. Mariners), Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg; raysbaseball.com

The alt-rock legends launch the Tampa Bay Rays’ seventh annual Summer Concert Series with a post-game concert in the outfield (free with game admission). If you’ve never seen Weezer live, you’re in for a treat; Rivers Cuomo is a madman entertainer. Among the other Rays shows this summer: The O'Jays (June 21) and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts (July 12). – Gerry Galipault

Katy Perry, June 30, Tampa Bay Times Forum; ticketmaster.com

Katy Perry AP 2013

Katy Perry performs for a morning TV news program in Sydney,  Oct. 29, 2013.  (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

To date, she has accumulated nine No. 1 singles on Billboard's Hot 100 and has sold more than 81 million singles worldwide. So, yeah, her Prismatic World Tour stop here will be like a greatest hits show. Capital Cities ("Safe and Sound") will open. – Gerry Galipault

Ray LaMontagne, July 10, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater; rutheckerdhall.com

Maybe you know who he is, maybe you don’t. Regardless, there's no denying that this soulful New Englander has the magic touch. With each of his first four albums, sales have skyrocketed, and his 2010 album "God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise " garnered two Grammy nominations. Now he's touring behind his fifth album, "Supernova," which comes out Tuesday. – Gerry Galipault

Lionel Richie with CeeLo Green, July 14, MIDFLORIDA Amp; livenation.com

Come for "The Voice," stay for the hitmaker. Green was a judge on NBC's "The Voice" for four seasons, and Richie is ... well, he's Lionel Richie! Between them, they have 10 Grammy Awards, and in Richie's case, 13 straight Top 10 pop hits in the 1980s. Expect hits galore. – Gerry Galipault

“American Idol Live!” July 17, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota; vanwezel.org

Following a dozen years of shows in Tampa and Orlando, the “American Idol Live!” tour makes its Sarasota debut thanks, in large part, to the success of Bradenton singer-songwriter Sam Woolf, who finds out today if he reaches the Top 4. (The results show airs at 9 p.m. on Fox; for complete coverage go to our Sam Woolf page.) In addition to being a special homecoming concert for the senior at Braden River High School, “American Idol Live!” features performances by the other members of this season’s Top 10. – Wade Tatangelo

KISS and Def Leppard, July 23, MIDFLORIDA Amp; livenation.com

Kiss AP 2012

Gene Simmons, singer and bassist of Kiss performs at the Kentish Town Forum, north London, July 4 , 2012, in aid of the charity Help For Heroes. (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)

After 15 years of eligibility, the Kings of Makeup Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss finally got inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month. The original members couldn’t set aside their differences for one night to play together. Likewise, on tour, it’ll be Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer in Frehley and Criss’ places. Surely, they will rock and roll over and then some. – Gerry Galipault

Vans Warped Tour, July 25, Vinoy Waterfront Park; vanswarpedtour.com

For $48.50, you can get an earful during this 20th annual roadshow. The long list includes Yellowcard, Saves the Day, The Ready Set, Anberlin, Breathe Carolina, Falling in Reverse, Of Mice & Men, Bayside, Echosmith. Bring comfortable Vans for a long day. – Gerry Galipault

Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden, Aug. 11, MIDFLORIDA Amp; livenation.com

Two of the biggest bands of the 1990s are joining forces this summer with Nine Inch Nails ostensibly touring in support of its 2013 album “Hesitation Marks.” Soundgarden’s “Superunknown” recently turned 20 and to celebrate the band is releasing a deluxe 20th anniversary edition June 3. Fun fact: “Superunknown” and NIN’s “The Downward Spiral”  both came out March 8, 1994. – Wade Tatangelo

Mötley Crüe, Aug. 17, MIDFLORIDA Amp; livenation.com

Mötley Crüe’s members reportedly signed a "cessation of touring agreement" that will go into effect at the end of 2015, which means this really might be your last chance to witness the greatest band left from the hair metal era deliver its awesome rock show. Age-defying shock rock pioneer Alice Cooper opens. – Wade Tatangelo

Kings of Leon, Sept. 5, MIDFLORIDA Amp; livenation.com

In an era when young men have mostly stopped rocking out in favor of rural strumming, it’s wonderfully refreshing to hear a band like Kings of Leon pack sheds and arenas with gutsy, guitar-driven songs like “Sex on Fire,” “Use Somebody,” “Radioactive” and “Supersoaker,” from the band’s new album “Mechanical Bull.”  – Wade Tatangelo

What concerts are you most excited about this summer? Let us know in the comments section.

What concerts are you most excited about this summer? Let us know in the comments section.
Last modified: May 14, 2014
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