Summer Guide 2014: A guide to live music events

Hot fun in the summer time

Come on, come on, and dance all night
Despite the heat, it’ll be alright
And babe, don’t you know it’s a pity
The days can’t be like the nights
In the summer, in the city
—“Summer in the City” by John Sebastian


School’s out for summer, and the world is yours. Or is it? Louisville’s ever fertile live music scene overflows with options throughout the next three-and-a-half months, so here’s a handy guide to help you choose your own adventure. Check out each venue’s site for more details and updates, and wear sunscreen. 

For festival fun on the 6th and 7th, the KFC Yum! Center hosts the R&B-flavored Midwest Music Festival with Chaka Khan, Toni Braxton, Ginuwine and more ( The all-star bluegrass collaboration that is Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell plays Horseshoe Casino on the 6th (, while the all-star lineup of Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss & Union Station and the Wild Feathers fire up Waterfront Park ( For a more intimate time, New Albany’s Bicentennial Park continues their summer series with The Barefoot Movement (

The 7th also features a one-time-only appearance by a trio of modern experimental jazz innovators when Peter Brotzmann, Hamid Drake and William Parker play at Dreamland in NuLu ( That night also offers new Louisvillians Murder by Death, recently arrived from Bloomington after almost 15 years, at Headliners (

Headliners offers numerous shows in June, including Dopapod, Band of Skulls, Phosphorescent, The Front Bottoms, Jake Bugg and Cut Copy. At the new Mercury Ballroom, Kaiser Chiefs, Sleigh Bells, Treetop Flyers, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Turnpike Troubadours are among the top names ( Their older, larger sibling, the Louisville Palace, has booked Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and a solo Elvis Costello back-to-back ( Paul McCartney finally plays Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center, as does the cross-generation pairing of Lionel Richie and CeeLo Green (

South End outdoors gem Iroquois Amphitheater presents Arctic Monkeys (already sold out) and Broken Bells ( Waterfront Park boasts WFPK’s “Waterfront Wednesday” at the end of the month with the Old 97s, The Whigs and Dawn Landes ( Downtown’s Brown Theatre brings in Jeff Tweedy and the Dave Rawlings Machine for two nights of modern American music (

Smaller spot Zanzabar’s packed calendar includes Kraak & Smaak, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Mother Falcon, The Revivalists, Jeff the Brotherhood, Vintage Trouble, The Detroit Cobras, Merchandise, The Foreign Exchange, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, The Paul Collins Beat, Hamilton Leithauser, The David Mayfield Parade and Yarn ( Neighbor the New Vintage hosts Christopher Denny, Lydia Lunch, Hoots & Hellmouth and special events promoting the Louisville Is for Lovers series and this fall’s Louisville Outskirts Festival (

Bicentennial Park’s series continues with James Wallace and the Naked Light and Machines Are People Too; Rye offers Rueben and the Dark on their patio (; and Fourth Street Live has an evening with Neon Trees (

Dreamland goes their own way with Speedy Oritz, Wrest, Flanger Magazine, Wooden Cities, Bad History Month, a record fair, an art show, a discussion of 78s and the annual three-night Louisville Experimental Festival.


The big event this month, as always, is the Forecastle Festival at Waterfront Park (July 18-20), this time starring OutKast, Jack White, Beck, The Replacements, Nickel Creek and Slint ( Lebowski Fest takes the weekend before (July 11-12) with Those Darlins, The Features and Bobby Bare Jr. (

The Palace has Rick Springfield, Maxwell and Yes (but not all at once, sadly). Iroquois Amphitheater got ZZ Top.

Headliners has The Neighbourhood, Bombadil, Greg Ginn’s resurrection of the Black Flag name and a late-night post-Forecastle show with St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Mercury Ballroom fills up with Xavier Rudd, Bob Schneider, Matt Nathanson and more.

Zanzabar’s headliners include the Felice Brothers, Tony Lucca, Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, Lemuria, Hundred Waters and Wye Oak. The New Vintage has a coup with a Swans and Xiu Xiu double bill, plus Freekbass, Will Kimbrough, Ponyshow, the Devon Allman Band and the Brian Olive Band.

“Waterfront Wednesday” ends the month with a lineup not announced at press time.


The end of summer fun — for the kids, at least — is a good month to see a pair of popular ladies, as Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry both set up their carnivals in the KFC Yum! Center.

Based on the information we’ve received by now, the rest of the month already looks good for Iroquois Amphitheater, with Rodrigo y Gabriela and Umphrey’s McGee in a week, and the Mercury Ballroom, who bring Sick Puppies, Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang and a Daft Punk tribute act. Zanzabar offers the Baseball Project and Nancy Whang. The “Waterfront Wednesday” lineup will be anchored by Shovels and Rope.


It’s still summer as long as “Waterfront Wednesday” is still on the Waterfront, right? Their season ends with Lake Street Dive on the 17th. The KFC Yum! Center still has the Black Keys to open you up with, while the Mercury Ballroom’s star power includes the new duo of vets Nick Carter and Jordan Knight. That’s right. The possibilities are truly endless this summer.