How To Plan Your Indianapolis Dad-Concert Attendance This Summer
“Looks like a great lineup, just needs more Buffett.” — Your Dad. UPDATE: “You want Buffett? You got it, Sport!”
Last week saw the beginning of the annual rush of Indianapolis summer concert announcements, a sprawling and diverse roster that veers all the way from bands you liked in the ’70s to bands you liked in the ’90s. Happily for music fans, it’s a long list! Unhappily for music fans, if you are of a certain age (pronounced “mine”), concerts remain ever-increasingly expensive, especially when you factor in babysitting, parking fees, Reputation tote bags, and the number of $12 Coors Lights you’ll half-drunkenly purchase from the lawn vendor at the Ruoff Home Mortgage Guaranteed Rate Bail Bonds Stereo Vacuum Bitcoin Company Music Center and Pawn Shop. To that end, if you are Of That Certain Age Of Which I Am, here’s a thoughtfully curated list of pros and cons for the summer concert season, which will be updated as shows are added:
The Eagles (March 12, Bankers Life Fieldhouse)
Pros: Odds of hearing a single note you haven’t internalized for 40 years: -4%
Cons: Lots of bands tour without original members, but it’s not like they’re offering a No Glenn Frey discount.
Priority Index: 5/10. You’re paying for trained professionals, but the Eagles without Frey is like Bon Jovi without Richie Sambora—oh, wait.
Pink (March 17, Bankers Life Fieldhouse)
Pros: As pop-singer role models go, Pink is easily the baddest-ass, and you’ll know a good six or eight songs, which will definitely not be the case at Harry Styles.
Cons: Sold out faster than Michelle Obama, and you are not going to like the resale market.
Priority Index: 8/10. Pull this off, and you’ll earn enough dad points to last you through Taylor Swift.
Pros: It’s “Weird Al” Yankovic—we’re done here.
Cons: Unlike his blowout props-and-parody concerts in 2015 and 2016, this Al’s “Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour” means that he’s playing a lot of originals and rarities, which may cool off “White and Nerdy” fans but is SUPER FANTASTIC NEWS for those of us whose first three cassettes were In 3-D, Dare to Be Stupid, and Polka Party. The Center says it’s close to a sellout, though, so move fast.
Priority Index: 10/10. Comic genius + childhood joy + potential for “Buy Me a Condo” or “Good Old Days” makes this possibly the dad-show of the spring
Ministry (April 12, Egyptian Room)
Pros: First time the industrial titans have performed here in 350 years, and they’ll probably play the bop-oom-bop-bop song.
Cons: Al Jourgensen, though still a black-throated shrieking hell-demon of legendary power, is also 59.
Priority Index: Probably hinges on the number of tattoos on your neck.
Built to Spill / Afghan Whigs (April 13, Vogue)
Guided by Voices (April 14, Hi-Fi)
Pros: Three college-rock music-nerd monoliths in the same 36 hours; that sound you heard is the city’s populace of bearded graphic designers squealing with glee, or doing whatever aging alternative fans do, which is probably nod approvingly, mentally calculate two nights of babysitting rates, and wonder what weed would do to them now.
Cons: Having to stay up until 1:30 a.m. twice in two nights.
Priority Index: 5/10 for most of us; 12/10 if you worked for your college radio station.
Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band (May 24, Ruoff Home Mortgage Center)
Pros: IF YOU’RE COUNTING, that’s Buffett (Thursday, May 24), Carb Day (Friday, May 25), Legends Day (Saturday, May 26), some race (Sunday, May 27) and Memorial Day (Monday, May 28). If you have business to complete in Indianapolis, I warmly suggest wrapping that up by about 1:30 p.m. May 23.
Cons: Sometimes you slip when you’re trying to pee in that river in the lawn.
Priority Index: 9/10. Buffett’s seemingly on an every-other-year schedule with Indy these days, so air out your coconut bras now, gentlemen. Also this is not a bad way to start off the summer.
Kenny Chesney (May 31, Ruoff Home Mortgage Center)
Pros: Just seven days after Buffett brings his version of the Caribbean to Indiana, his most successful acolyte re-ups it.
Cons: Being so back-to-back, you may have to pick one country-Caribbean show in which to get loaded on rum in a parking lot.
Priority Index: 8/10. Usually a resident of the cavernous Lucas Oil Stadium (and stadiums elsewhere in the land), Chesney has relocated to the much cozier Deer Creek the past few years, and the relative size adjustment makes him much more accessible.
Pros: Portland’s defining indie-nerds—OK, well, they’re in at least the top 25—are improbably skilled at merging erudite, literary epics with a gleefully powerful live show. Also there’s a huge whale.
Cons: New album I’ll Be Your Girl, due in March, indicates a more experimental and electronic sound.
Priority Index: 7/10, but +2 if you’re currently wearing black-rimmed glasses.
Dead and Company (June 6, Ruoff Home Mortgage Center)
Pros: It’s proof of the agelessness of the Grateful Dead franchise; also, even if no one is sure what to think of John Mayer as a human being, he’s a fiend on guitar.
Cons: Chance of setting new record for Grayest-Haired Baked Dude You’ve Ever Peed Next To.
Priority Index: If you’re going to this, you already have tickets.
Poison/Cheap Trick (June 7, Ruoff Home Mortgage Center)
Pros: It’s billed as the “Nothin’ But a Good Time” tour, so we’re taking that to mean nobody will remotely consider playing anything released after June 1990.
Cons: Look, we love “Surrender” and “Fallen Angel,” but we’re not parking in Noblesville for two opening acts.
Priority Index: 3/10. Look, Bret Michaels plays the Indiana State Fair a lot, and that’s way cheaper and you can bring a funnel cake
David Byrne (June 9, The Lawn at White River)
Pros: A rare opportunity to see the alternative icon, one who’s still pleasingly weird, as his shock white hair will attest.
Cons: His clothes will fit.
Priority Index: 7.5/10. Which is the same as it ever was.
Steely Dan / The Doobie Brothers (June 24, Ruoff Home Mortgage Center)
Pros: Decent chance of hearing that Michael McDonald song they made “Regulate” out of; also, you can say hi to my dad.
Cons: Steely Dan is performing.
Priority Index: 3/10. This one might be your StubHub Last-Minute $10 Score of the Summer.
James Taylor/Bonnie Raitt (June 26, Bankers Life Fieldhouse)
Pros: Two thoughtful and iconic singer-songwriters in a concert you can attend without foot-sweating through your Vans.
Cons: Having to explain to your kids who these people are.
Priority Index: 6/10, +2 for being home at a reasonable hour.
Def Leppard / Journey (July 3, Ruoff Home Mortgage Center)
Pros: They will play a collective three-plus hours of music, and you will be intimately, primally familiar with EVERY LAST SYLLABLE OF IT. Seriously, Def Leppard plays “Love Bites” fourth. FOURTH. THAT’S HOW MANY HITS DEF LEPPARD HAS.
Cons: Honestly, only that this version of Def Leppard’s annual stop doesn’t include Tesla.
Priority Index: 13. STAND UP, AND KICK TICKET PURCHASING INTO MOTION
Pros: Dave makes up for taking last summer off by dropping a new album and scheduling a Friday/Saturday two-fer right after the July 4 holiday. What a nice fella!
Cons: He’ll probably play some of that new album.
Priority Index: 9/10. If you’re a fan, tickets shouldn’t be too tricky to come by. And it’s not like anyone’s working much after July 4 anyway.
Weezer / Pixies (July 8, Ruoff Home Mortgage Center)
Pros: A smart, artful double-shot of the dorky band with that one album from college, and the dorky band with that one album from high school.
Cons: Look, we love us some Pixies, but this seems like an awfully big space for Wave of Mutilation.
Priority Index:7/10. But you can catch up with any new friends you met at Built to Spill and GBV.
Foo Fighters (July 26, Ruoff Home Mortgage Center)
Pros: Their 2015 concert was hands-down, Katie bar the door, one of the best rock shows at the venue in recent memory; they opened — opened — with Everlong, Monkey Wrench and Learn to Fly before thoughtfully pausing so fans could hydrate. Dave Grohl even made a joke about owning a Honda Odyssey, although I choose to believe it’s true
Cons: Going to work on Friday morning
Priority Level: 10/10. If the mighty pull of Disney and/or summer camp leaves only one show in the summertime budget, make it this one
Zac Brown Band (Aug. 3, Ruoff Home Mortgage Center)
Pros: Their annual stop is becoming a solid tradition, as well as the only place to hear a quote-fingers country band do Sinatra songs, Prince covers, and Head Like a Hole
Cons: Always a good time, but it’s also a grab bag—their M.O. is to be all over the place, which works, mostly. If you’re looking for straight country, wait for Hootie and Lady Antebellum.
Priority Level: 7/10. If you can’t make this year, they’ve likely already held dates for 2019–2032.
Lynyrd Skynyrd (Aug. 4, Ruoff Home Mortgage Center)
Pros: It’s billed as their Last Tour Ever, and unlike 99.7% of the time bands announce such retirements (members of the Grateful Dead performed their “last shows,” waited 16 minutes and tweeted about the tour with Mayer), Skynyrd seem serious, I mean, look at these guys.
Cons: I suppose we can start with the insane preponderance of rebel flags.
Priority Index: Dependent entirely on how much you need to hear “Sweet Home Alabama” one last time, and by “one last time” we mean “until you enter another bar.”
Chicago/REO Speedwagon (Aug. 11, Ruoff Home Mortgage Center)
Pros: OK so last year, it was Chicago and the Doobie Brothers, while REO Speedwagon opened for Def Leppard, and this year it’s Chicago/REO Speedwagon, while the Doobie Brothers are with Steely Dan and Journey is with Def Leppard, and I think these guys just get into a closet over Christmas break and play Spin the Bottle.
Cons: I would literally show up expecting Def Leppard.
Priority Index: 2/10
Pros: Everybody else is going.
Cons: If you’re still smarting from the U2 bill, grab something solid: The real bad seats start at $100, and anything lower than cruising altitude is at least $175 a pop, before taxes, fees, T-shirts and Taylor Swift Official Verified Fan Hot Pretzels or what-the-hell-ever.
Priority Level: 6/10. Taylor’s globe-crushing popularity is running smack into her bats**t insane approach to ticket prices, and the surprising ticket availability for this show seems to bear that out. But what do I know, I have two boys, and they’re easily the most excited about “Weird Al” Yankovic.