The top Toronto concerts for July are full of the radio-friendly and stadium-filling, perhaps to counterbalance June's heavily indie festival onslaught. But don't think for one second that those summer fests are on the wain: Electric Island, Edgefest, Afrofest, Warped Tour, and Beaches Jazz Fest are just some of what's planned for this month.
Even other kinds of festivals are pulling in notable bands for live entertainment - Toronto's Festival of Beer has quite the eclectic lineup going, for example, with Naughty by Nature one night, then 54-40 the next (but only the latter is already sold out, which makes me question your priorities, Toronto).
Also on the fest front: beginning July 10, Panamania will honour the Pan Am Games with an impressively curated 35 days of (mostly free) arts and culture programming. Serena Ryder and Wyclef Jean kick off opening weekend and are followed by The Flaming Lips, Death From Above 1979, Kiesza, Basia Bulat and much more. Plus, just yonder north, the hotly anticipated WayHome sets up shop in Oro-Medonte July 24-26.
Somehow, there are still other interesting gigs scheduled in between all that madness. Here are my top picks for concerts in July.
The Tragically Hip (July 1, Molson Amphitheatre)
Is there a more patriotic way to celebrate Canada Day then attending a Tragically Hip show where they play all of Fully Completely? Not really, unless Celine Dion shows up across town in hockey skates singing the national anthem.
Buck 65 (July 3, Yonge-Dundas Square)
YDS just launched a new summer music series, and rapper/CBC radio host Buck 65 will play the second instalment of the Virgin Mobile-sponsored "Indie Fridays" in the free, open-air venue.
Death Grips (July 3, Danforth Music Hall)
Considering their history of not showing up to gigs, cancelling tours and generally screwing with the world, buying tickets to a Death Grips show is a risky investment at best. However, it's heartening to see reviews of the band's current North American tour uniformly stating that a) they were actually there and b) played a lengthy, killer set. I'd say take the gamble.
Brian Wilson (July 4, Danforth Music Hall)
The legendary Beach Boy's biopic Love and Mercy is currently playing to rave reviews in theatres, but we'll have the chance to see the real deal up close at the Danforth Music Hall as he tours his latest release, Pier Pressure.
U2 (July 6 and 7, Air Canada Centre)
Night one of U2's iNNOCENCE and eXPERIENCE tour is sold out, but there appears to be plenty of room left at night two - perhaps because people still haven't forgiven them for iTunesgate, or maybe just because they just decided to become Tool fans instead. Either way, you can still buy the pricey admission to what some say is still one of the best live acts in the world.
Foo Fighters (July 8 and 9, Molson Amphitheatre)
Speaking of recently injured rockstar royalty, Dave Grohl and co. are also swinging by for a two-night stint - well, hopefully, as long as his leg's healed up by then. The band's massive tour in honour of new release Sonic Highways is currently planned to resume at least a few days before their Toronto visit.
Operators (July 9, Garrison)
Wavelength joined forces with the Red Bull Sound Select series to put on this evening of up-and-coming Toronto indie, headlined by Dan Boeckner's new synth-driven project Operators and joined by Most People and Wish. Best of all, it's a measly $3 for advance tickets.
Skrillex's Full Flex Express (July 11, Echo Beach)
Skrillex's train tour of Canada has been on hiatus the past couple years, but has resumed in 2015 to the delight of EDM fans across the country. This year, catch Jack Ü, Zedd's Dead, A$AP Ferg, Kiesza, Tycho and more.
Interpol (July 14 and 15 Danforth Music Hall)
A freak snowstorm probably won't thwart their attempt to come across the border this time (well, hopefully...climate change, y'all), so fans of the moody NYC indie rockers will finally get the chance to see them over two nights.
Rockstar Mayhem Festival (July 15, Echo Beach)
As much as I'm tempted to poke fun at concerts sponsored by energy drinks, I have to admit that Rockstar's Mayhem Festival really outdid itself this year by booking one of the legendary Big Four, Slayer, as the headliner. They'll be joined by King Diamond, HELLYEAH and The Devil Wears Prada on the main stage.
Generationalpictomusicapolis (July 16, Adelaide Hall)
This hybrid rock show/art exhibit is a bit of a unique find in the concert landscape this month: three bands come together for one night of live performances and collaborate on limited-edition art prints that are put on display and available for purchase. Sub-Pop punk duo No Age will be joined by Sun Foot and Devin, Gary & Ross for this at the newly reopened, balcony-free Adelaide Hall.
Veruca Salt (July 28, Lee's Palace)
Veruca Salt is one of the many female-fronted bands to dredge itself from the 90s alt-rock bog with the OG lineup fully intact, so you'll get to hear Nina Gordon and Louise Post's sweet harmonies once again upon the release of their new album, Ghost Notes.
Nicki Minaj (July 28, Molson Amphitheatre)
Continuing her enormous tour in support of The Pinkprint, Nicki Minaj comes to town near the end of the month, mercifully allowing us plebs to still attend even if we don't have a Tidal subscription yet. Meek Mill, Rae Sremmurd, Tinashe and Dej Loaf round out her support for the show.
What did I miss? Add your suggestions for Toronto's most exciting July concerts in the comments.
Photo of Interpol by Caroline van Oosten de Boer on Flickr
by Shazia Khan via blogTO