2012 Summer Guide: It's a Scorcher

A summer concert season to melt your face off.

Coldplay, Robyn, Wolf Gang, June 25-26, Toyota Center

Few groups can necessitate not one but two consecutive dates in Houston, and one of them is Coldplay. Anglophiles, sickeningly affectionate couples, and fans of indie bluster have made them one of the most profitable touring acts of the last decade, a sort of U2 lite, without the dirty and decadent electronic period. Opener Robyn is on the cusp of something big, scoring this supporting slot after a successful solo jaunt last year and touring with Katy Perry.

Merle Haggard, Noel Haggard, Folk Family Revival, June 28, Nutty Jerry's


If you are anything like me, you try to collect as many live experiences by legendary artists as you can before they go to the big backstage party in the sky. Enter the 75-year-old Merle Haggard, who's still making country and rock crowds giddy with cuts like "The Fightin' Side of Me" and "Mama Tried" when most men his age can barely open a car door. Young local openers Folk Family Revival aren't too shabby themselves, melding Dylan-style stomp with Red Dirt Country twang.

Mayhem Tour featuring Slipknot, Motörhead, Slayer and Anthrax, July 11, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

Yes, it's in the middle of the week, but with a lineup featuring Slipknot, Motörhead, Slayer and Anthrax plus a host of other evil young acolytes, you can afford to at least miss one day of the life-draining work week. You can let those important reports and projects wait so you can hear "Raining Blood." Come on, man, just come out. You used to be cool...

The Jacksons, July 14, Bayou Music Center

Since their brother Michael passed away in June 2009, there has been persistent talk of a full-scale Jacksons tour, with the surviving Jackson brothers on board performing their collective hits and the hits of brother Jermaine. Now it is finally a reality. Armed with their bedrock Jackson 5 hits, Jacksons work and Jermaine Jackson's hit solo cuts, the group's "Unity Tour" marks their first in nearly three decades. That last tour, in support of 1984's Victory album, was a highly successful outing, with the group playing in front of more than 2.5 million screaming fans.

311, Slightly Stoopid, July 15, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

Even if you haven't been keeping up with 311, you probably still know all the words to their breakthrough self-titled album. If you have been hanging around, then you know that the past decade and a half have been nice to the group's signature sound. These guys have been a regular summer touring act, becoming almost an institution, with their relaxed vibe fitting the sweaty months like a glove. Expect plenty of dreadlocked heads and funky herbal smells, as per the norm.

Dukes of September, featuring Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs, July 17, Cynthia Woods Mitchell PavilionCan you get any more smooth and dashing than this show? We submit you cannot. Featuring Steely Dan's Fagen, the falsetto king McDonald and the suave Scaggs, this one will captivate those of us who long ago had our guilty pleasure chips upgraded to enjoy full-tilt corn. What we mean to say is, we will have as much fun at this show as your mother, if not more.

Last Summer on Earth, featuring Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler, Cracker, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, July 20, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

Why not celebrate the supposed last summer on Earth with some of the best bands, who put out some of the first CDs and cassettes some of you ever bought? There's no word yet if, in the event that the world doesn't in fact end by December, concertgoers will be eligible for refunds due to false advertising. A summer full of ten-minute harmonica solos in the middle of Blues Traveler's "But Anyway" may hasten the end quicker for our precious mudball.

Joe Cocker, Huey Lewis & The News, July 21, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

Between this and the Dukes of September gig this summer, you have no reason to complain that Houston never gets any great shows. Joe Cocker is still slugging away, with latest album Hard Knocks, featuring production from Matt Serletic, just released in January. As for Huey Lewis and his News, they're still as rousing and party-rocking as ever.

Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, July 30, Toyota Center

This show isn't for a few months, so there is still time for the volatile Aerosmith to implode in a hail of fists and mental meltdowns. Hopefully, though, that won't be the case and by late July we will be hearing the sweet sounds of new Aero tunes at Toyota Center. A new album is in the offing, and here's hoping it's not a dud like their last disc of original tunes, 2001's Just Push Play.

Kiss, Mötley Crüe, August 3, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

A match made in heaven for fans, this pairing of two of hard rock's most influential and makeup-friendly acts is sure to be a multi-generational affair. Kids who were born around the time of Kiss's last big reunion in 1996 are rabid for the group, and the Crüe doesn't cease to thrill those of us who like our rock and roll a bit bloody and muddy.

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