Photo: Shutterstock/Melinda Nagy

The 10 Most Important Bands to See This Summer

Music + Nightlife
by Mike Jones Jun 17, 2009
Summer is always the best time to see live music, whether it’s at a dingy little club in the rough part of town or in a farmer’s field somewhere in rural England. Below are ten performers well worth seeing this summer – either on home turf or foreign soil.

After a bit of a meltdown at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona last month, Wavves, aka 22-year-old Nathan Williams, and drummer Ryan Ulsh, have unfortunately canceled their summer European tour.

Wavves have received an intense amount of attention since only recently being thrust into the spotlight. But hype is hype and anyone who cares to separate the music from the superficial will find that Williams plays catchy California pop-punk melodies, often beneath walls of My Bloody Valentines-esque fuzzy drone.

Catch them this August when Nathan’s feeling better.

Tour dates:

Animal Collective

Since their humble beginnings back in 2000, Animal Collective has been a band that finds music in even the most commonplace sounds.

Their sound has changed drastically over 9 years, steadily evolving into a wholly original amalgamation of electronica, live instrumentation and vocal harmonies. The band’s live show involves a continuous flow of tracks melded together, at times made indistinguishable from their original versions.

See them live and experience a highly unique band whose hypnotic, chugging beats will have you wondering why music hasn’t always been like this.

Tour dates:

Sonic Youth

What can be said about Sonic Youth that hasn’t already been said? This summer sees the release of their 16th studio album, The Eternal, and their first for indie label Matador Records.

For nearly 30 years, Sonic Youth has stayed true to the musical forms and styles they’ve perfected: crazy tunings, more effect pedals than you could fit in a large warehouse, the fusing of poetry, painting and performance art into music and of course, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore’s woozy, laid back vocals. A legendary band worth seeing again and again.

Tour dates:

Peter, Bjorn and John

For many, Peter Bjorn and John will always be “that band that sings that Young Folks song”, which is too bad because that’s a gross misunderstanding of what these three Swedish lads are capable of.

Their music surges with experimentation, at times highlighting streaks of dark humor. There really is something for everyone and anyone who cares about good music in this band’s style, and their live show should prove to be one of those pleasant surprises, a decent combination of surprises and freaky pop.

Tour dates:


There’s something entirely laid back and comfortable about Chicago native Common’s music. Comfort music maybe? At any rate, although recent efforts have arguably failed to capture the same level of musical continuity that made 2005’s “Be” so damn satisfying, there’s no denying that Common has the skills to rock a crowd.

His recent decision to rap on a Jonas Brothers track is more than slightly disconcerting, so maybe it’s best to see him now before he gives up his career as a hip-hop artist for life in a boy band.

Tour dates:


Moderat was formed as a side project/merger between the insanely good Modeselektor and the very good Aparat, who both happen to hail from Berlin, Germany, aka the Mecca of electronic music.

While Aparat’s style may slightly crowd out Modeselektor’s, this is still very good stuff. Not only that, but Moderat are the closest thing that anyone is going to get to seeing a Modeselektor performance this summer. This is a live show guaranteed to have its share of some of the heaviest, filling loosening beats that machines have to offer. Brace yourself.

Tour dates:

Damian Marley

Simply put, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley’s brand of reggae isn’t his father’s.

Musically more along the lines of Peter Tosh than Bob, Damian’s verses hover between ghetto nightmare and laid back images of a sun soaked ganja Eden. Despite these differences in subject matter however, the vibe of Marley’s music somehow always manages to stay the same – nice and chill.

Tour dates:

Dan Deacon/No Age/Deerhunter

This is arguably the most interesting tour of the summer: three bands on stage at the same time, each taking their turn to play.

Dan Deacon alone has the proven ability to whip audiences into a seriously participatory experience, but when you bring along California punk two piece No Age – who incidentally pack the auditory punch of a five piece – as well as the psychedelic sway of Deerhunter, then you’re in for something that just might blow your mind to smithereens.

Tour dates: Dan Deacon –,
No Age –,
Deerhunter –


Though Thom will be performing a solo show this summer, Radiohead have five performances booked as a band.

Perhaps it’s a stretch to say that they’re actually “touring” this summer, but the way that I see it is that anytime this band collectively gather and plug in their instruments, it’s time to pay attention. If you can only see one band this summer and it can’t be Animal Collective, make it Radiohead. And if you can only see one solo artist performance this summer, make it Thom Yorke’s. You’ll thank yourself for it later. Repeatedly.

Tour dates:

Bon Iver

Speaking of solo performances, Bon Iver sings sweet and cosy, folky, sitting around a campfire, drinking bourbon in a log cabin, beard and flannel inducing, acoustic guitar songs.

The majority of his dates this summer are festival dates, which could really lend themselves to the performances. This is exactly the kind of music you want to be listening to outside, under a star filled, summer night sky.

Tour dates:

Feature Photo by douglemoine

Discover Matador

Save Bookmark

We use cookies for analytics tracking and advertising from our partners.

For more information read our privacy policy.