AUSTERE POP The xx, at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston on June 8.
A multi-day festival that manages to appeal to those normally repelled by the idea is the Wilco-produced and -curated SOLID SOUND FESTIVAL, which takes over the wonderful Berkshires campus of MASS MoCA in North Adams from June 21-23. As you might expect, it's kind of the Park Slope of summer fests: upper-middle-class thirty-something couples toting their toddlers around, organic hot dogs, local beer, acres of innovative art available for your perusal, etc. That said, the event is remarkably pleasant and comfortable, and boasts a particularly excellent roster this year. Neko Case, Yo La Tengo, and Os Mutantes join the hosts in uniting cred and popularity, and other acts like the idiosyncratic folk singer Sam Amidon and the raucous Austin hippie-punk band White Denim are not to be missed.
Museums right in Boston get in on the action as well, with occasional courtyard (Museum of Fine Arts) and Harborside (ICA) events throughout the season. Both offer stellar backdrops for innovative artists: the MFA will be focusing on world music this summer, while the ICA showcases the work of Berklee students from July 12 through August at its free, Thursday evening HARBORWALK series. Also right in the city, the Bank of America Pavilion is stocked with concerts catering to the young, artsy crowd: the austere band the XX join orchestral pop standard-bearers GRIZZLY BEAR on June 8, while BELLE AND SEBASTIAN revisit teenage awkwardness July 9 and BECK attempts to maintain his relevancy on August 2. A grander affair rounds out the summer on August 10, as JAY-Z and JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE bring their winning, nouveau-Rat Pack chic to Fenway Park.
Elsewhere around the state, summer concert series for your to-do lists include a trip to TANGLEWOOD. The Lenox institution is best known as a hub for summering classical musicians and prodigies-in-training, but offers a few great pop and jazz shows as well: bassist Esperanza Spalding performs August 4, Spike Lee scorer Terence Blanchard plays with his group June 28, and Grace Potter and Josh Ritter bring their bands to the festival on August 19. In Lowell, BOARDING HOUSE PARK plays host to a Summer Music Series; choice engagements include dates with Richard Thompson (June 29), Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell (July 18), and the gleefully imitable Michael McDonald (July 13). The "Nashville North" of the country music circuit is Indian Ranch in Webster, and their summer slate includes Dwight Yoakam (June 23), Peter Frampton (June 30), and Pat Benatar (August 24). Among the Bay State's most impressive multi-day events are the GREEN RIVER FESTIVAL in Greenfield, which runs July 20-21 and features Gogol Bordello, Brandi Carlile, Todd Snider, hot air balloons, and a whole lot more; and the NEW BEDFORD FOLK FESTIVAL, a July 6-7 oceanside fest with Antje Duvekot, Anais Mitchell, Ellis Paul, and more.
NEW HAMPSHIRE, VERMONT, CONNECTICUT
If a jaunt to Funspot or a day of Romney-spotting on Lake Winnipesaukee isn't temptation enough, New Hampshire's got a few concert series lined up to lure in the summering crowd. The MEADOWBROOK PAVILION in Gilford hosts festivalish, day-long events throughout the summer, and the 8000-person venue hosts everyone from the Avett Brothers (June 8) to the Black Crowes and the Tedeschi Trucks Brand (July 27 for that interesting double-bill), and from John Mayer (August 18) to Ke$ha (August 31), the two of whom I hope I'm not alone in wishing were a double-bill. Also lakeside, the GREAT WATERS MUSIC FESTIVAL is ongoing throughout the summer, with a few pops and classical nights, and headlining shows with Cheryl Wheeler (June 28), Jason Spooner (July 26), and Lorrie Morgan (August 16). Right in Portsmouth, the PRESCOTT PARK RIVER HOUSE RESTAURANT CONCERT SERIES is a terrific deal, asking a pittance of a donation to catch the likes of Justin Townes Earle (July 10), Trombone Shorty (July 26), the Head and the Heart (July 31), and Dar Williams (August 14), among quite a few others.
In the Northwestern reaches of the region, Ben and Jerry's serves up a few concerts on Shelburne's museum green; expect big fun and great crowds on June 11, as the maximalist indie anthemists EDWARD SHARPE AND THE MAGNETIC ZEROS play, and on June 22, with the unimpeachably cool duo of DAVID BYRNE AND ST. VINCENT.
Safely distant from the sweltering New York summer, a couple events in Connecticut caught our eye as well. The GATHERING OF THE VIBES is one of the more renowned music festivals on the everlasting Deadhead circuit, and will prove its worth from July 25-28 at Seaside Park in Bridgeport. Headliners at the admirably eclectic fest include Phil Lesh and Friends, the Roots, Galactic, and Grace Potter, but be sure to save some energy for late-night DJ sets by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy. Over in New Haven, the INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND IDEAS (June 15-29) is an important summer pit stop for intellectuals and theatrical and dance performance troupes, but it also offers some terrific free concerts over the fortnight.