Summer concerts Toronto

The top 20 concerts in Toronto for summer 2014

The top concerts in Toronto for summer 2014 remind me of a dream I had one night during the long, cold winter. In it, a bunch of awesome bands came and played shows all summer, and it never snowed in Toronto again.

This July, pop lovers will have to decide between Lady Gaga at the ACC and Jay-Z with Beyonce at the Rogers Centre (both on July 9). Not into it? Spend an August evening watching a bunch of old dudes play punk music at Echo Beach, or hit the Toronto Urban Roots Festival at Fort York and see indie stars like Beirut, Jeff Tweedy, Gogol Bordello, Local Natives and Born Ruffians. Rap fans also have Rick Ross on June 15.

Here are my picks for 20 hot ticket concerts in Toronto this summer.

Arctic Monkeys - June 21 - Molson Amphitheatre
The English four-piece will come to Toronto to kick off the summer, and they get a pretty big venue to do it. Their latest album was quite solid, but they're bound to play a bunch of the old classics. Arguably on the down slope of their fame, they still know how to rock and will definitely light up the Amphitheatre.

Lauryn Hill - June 21 - Sound Academy
The R&B star is making a stop in Toronto during a long tour of North America. She will then take her beautiful croon across the Atlantic to Europe. We're a long way from "That Thing," but apparently she's still got it. You be the judge when she comes to the Sound Academy.

Beck - June 27 - Sony Centre
I feel like Beck releases a new album every two months. In reality he's only put out twelve albums since 1993, but the prolific artist always has something going. This summer it's a large tour to support "Morning Phase," with a stop at the Sony Centre.

Cashmere Cat - June 27 - Hoxton
I always thought Cashmere Cat was female, but it turns out he's just doing the Hanson thing. Gaining fame through the inclusion of "Mirror Maru" on the GTA V soundtrack, the Norwegian is likely to draw a crowd to the Hoxton when he shows up this summer.

Oddisee - July 3 - Garrison
Mixtape king Oddisee is bringing his table game to The Garrison the night before Independence Day, and you know a Washington-hardened spinner is going to get loud on a night like that. His latest few releases have been solid and he's bound to put on a good show.

Rakim - July 4 - Phoenix
The legendary MC flies solo these days after his split with Eric B in the early 90s. A massive solo career has followed though, and he'll be testing the waters in Toronto this summer. Check him out over on Sherbourne when he lights up The Phoenix.

Deltron 3030 - July 5 - Tattoo
This supergroup puts it together well, though not quite with the same brilliance as Del's old Hiero days. Kid Koala and Dan the Automator are nothing to cry about though, and this trio will be stopping by Toronto in the wake of their return from a 13-year album hiatus.

Great Lake Swimmers and The Rural Alberta Advantage - July 8 - Massey Hall
I said once that Hometowns was the best LP to ever come out of Toronto and I still believe that. Catch The Rural Alberta Advantage when they play a double header with indie-beloved Great Lake Swimmers at Massey Hall.

Hudson Mohawke - July 25 - Hoxton
Hudmo has been busy slamming remixes the past few years. The 28 year-old Scot is primed to blast the roof off The Hoxton with some serious bass this summer. He's signed to Kanye West's label, if that means something to you. Won't it be so nice to not have to stand in the cold in your t-shirt while waiting in line for this increasingly hot nightclub?

Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden - July 27 - Molson Amphitheatre
A pretty specific demographic will be present at this show (and I'm sure that demographic will enjoy it immensely, though their stony faces may not show it). Two huge alternative names from the 90s get together for a double header at the Amphitheatre.

Gesaffelstein - August 1 - Hoxton
Without question, this will be the best show of the entire summer. French techno mogul Mike Levy, aka Gesaffelstein, has just been demolishing clubs all over Europe for years. This will be a night to remember for any clubgoer. House music doesn't get any better than this.

Kings of Leon - August 5 - Molson Amphitheatre
I remember seeing Kings of Leon with The Helio Sequence and Shout Out Louds in an absolute explosion of indie back in 2005. The four pretty boys from the South have made their way into the limelight since then, and are now rocking stadiums around the world. Don't miss the Toronto stop on their Mechanical Bull tour, when they blast the Molson Amphitheatre.

Tiny Ruins - August 4 - Garrison
I stumbled upon the Tiny Ruins album, Some Were Meant For Sea, a while back and have not stopped playing it since. The breathtakingly beautiful acoustic folk trio from New Zealand will be at The Garrison on August 4.

Strand of Oaks - August 11 - Drake
Tim Showalter, the mind behind Strand of Oaks, was opening for Tallest Man on Earth the last time I saw him. Now he's leading his own shows in the wake of HEAL, his latest album. Check out his slow, bluesy rock act at The Drake this August.

Mad Decent Block Party - August 15 - Fort York
A line-up to dream of for booty-shakers has a layover in Toronto this summer. Electronic label Mad Decent, led by the beat-genius Diplo, is bringing bass to the block all summer. Diplo himself will be there, alongside Flosstradamus, Zeds Dead and Toronto's own Grandtheft. They will crush Fort York in a can't-miss summer event.

Robyn and Royksopp - August 25 - Echo Beach
A strange but beautiful Scandinavian double header, Swedish Robyn and Norwegian Royksopp will share the stage at Echo Beach to close out the summer. It's bound to be a night of happy pop music, lights, and several stops at the beer tent.

Chris Isaak - August 27 - Massey Hall
Do I even need to say the name of the song? Everyone knows what they want to hear when they go to a Chris Isaak show. This is like when I saw Corey Hart as a kid and he played "Sunglasses at Night" twice. I mean, what else are you going to do? But man... "Wicked Game" is suuuuuch a good song. [Editor's note: I'm embedding the haphazard Youtube playlist of Isaak's Forever Blue album here to be contrary.]

Arcade Fire - August 29 - Molson Amphitheatre
This band has just gotten weirder and weirder over their career, but their late-August show at the Molson Amphitheatre is bound to be a spectacle. They put on a high-energy live act, and for any indieTM lover Arcade Fire is a bucket list band.

Sun Kil Moon - September 12 - Opera House
I remember when I found out Mark Kozelek played the drummer in Almost Famous. My mind exploded. Anyways, Sun Kil Moon is just a fantastic band (regardless of Derek Flack's opinion), and they will undoubtedly show it during their time onstage at The Opera House.

The Black Keys - September 16 - Air Canada Centre
It's very strange to me that this band was the band out of a million raw blues bands that got picked for stardom, but popularity moves in mysterious ways. Now the duo is rocking the Air Canada Centre, hot off an appearance on Saturday Night Live.

See also

What shows are you excited for this summer? Let us know in the comments!

pure leafThanks to Pure Leaf for sponsoring our summer adventures. For more things to do this summer, check out our Best of Summer page.

Photo: Robyn @ Sound Academy by Randall Vasquez. Follow Adam on Instagram and Twitter

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