Although this year’s concert season is coming to a close after one of the most sweltering summers in history, there’s always an encore of big-name shows before the year’s end. Despite most of the festivals passing already, we ask that you hold off on letting your ears and livers recover until you’ve attempted some of the 10 best concerts left of 2012 -- sans a Spice Girls reunion.
10. The Killers – Fonda Theater, Hollywood, Calif. (Sept. 26)
Despite the band’s longest hiatus from the music scene and frontman Brandon Flowers’ solo record, the rock quartet has reunited under a new record, "Battle Born," released in mid-September as the group’s fourth full-length album.
The Killers began supporting their new record around the time of its release with a quick four-month world tour beginning in the U.S. The intimate show at Fonda Theater in Hollywood is coming up quickly and is assured to be a close-knit night of rock extravaganzas, so sell a kidney if you want in on this surely high-in-demand show.
9. Smashing Pumpkins – Allstate Arena, Chicago, Ill. (Oct. 19)
Just when you thought they’d hung up their rocker boots and fancy hats, Smashing Pumpkins comes roaring back as one of the biggest and most unexpected reunions of 2012 with their latest LP, "Oceania."
Billy Corgan and company, after taking a break to write a few lines of poetry and see a few Cubs losses, have set a supporting tour behind their latest racket and will play for Corgan’s hometown crowd of Chicago in mid-October. Get there and rock your weirdest ‘90s outfit as you sing along with one of rock’s most unique sets of vocal cords.
8. Pearl Jam – Adams Center, Missoula, Mont. (Sept. 30)
For those of us awaiting a new Pearl Jam record in 2012, we may have to wait a bit longer while Eddie Vedder goes solo again and the band’s drummer heads out on tour with another ‘90s favorite, Soundgarden. Expect the new record early next year, but in the meantime, see if you can’t check out one of the few tour dates Pearl Jam has set aside this year, namely the show in the beautifully landscaped Montana city of Missoula.
Since there’s not much live Pearl Jam happening in major U.S. cities, you can still catch a glimpse of Eddie Vedder flying solo beginning in October through the end of the year with several two-show stops along the southern part of the U.S.
7. Band of Horses – Railroad Revival Tour, Tempe, Ariz. (Oct. 26)
Upon the recent September release of "Mirage Rock," the ever-graceful Band of Horses has reappeared to dazzle our ears and send us floating away into literally a mirage of rock. The beautifully evocative group carries its fourth studio album on its shoulders across the U.S. into some international dates beginning around the album release into late January.
The show in downtown Tempe, Ariz. marks part of a week-long music festival, including the likes of Willie Nelson, down by the old train tracks in the musically inclined desert city. If it’s still too hot for you, you can always check out the intimate show going on Sept. 27 at the Los Angeles Troubadour. There won’t be any trains going by, but there will be whiskey and singalongs just the same.
6. Bob Dylan – Greek Theatre, Berkeley, Calif. (Oct. 19)
After standing the test of five decades time, 71-year-old Bob Dylan is still soldiering on the stage with an intense two-month tour across the U.S. and Canada. His September release, "Tempest," is the latest in an extensive catalog of records that he will be supporting. Despite his staple raspy vocals becoming almost crackling gibberish, you’d be doing yourself a serious disservice if you never saw the myth of rock history that is Bob Dylan who, according to even Barack Obama, can light up your eyes and warm your heart.
5. Florence + the Machine – Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, Calif. (Oct. 5)
Taking a break from taking a break, Florence + the Machine have set down their pens and paper to deliver a few handfuls of live shows to the masses as they continue to take their time with their third studio record. The band’s commercial success with 2009’s "Lungs" and their 2011 sophomore release has allowed them the creative freedom to move at a snail’s pace, if need be, to take a breather from constant recording and touring over the past four years.
The Shoreline Amphitheatre is a popular California venue, perfect to hear some good vibrations in the autumn air. So step out, because the dog days are not yet over.
4. Jack White – Zilker Park at Austin City Limits, Austin, Texas (Oct. 12-13)
Good luck finding a better orchestrated show, even if you’re at one of rock-and-roll’s most respectable festivals, Austin City Limits. The former White Stripes frontman has stepped out on his own with his first solo offering, "Blunderbuss," and has set foot across America to show people what it’s all about. The ghostly painted guitarist may be lacking a tan, but he makes up for it with his carefully planned live sets, bringing two bands (one male, one female) with him on tour and choosing his set just prior to playing.
The man is unique, energetic and not to be missed if you like to watch a man shred a fiddle, not to mention the other great acts that will show up at Austin City Limits.
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas, Nev. (Dec. 31)
What better way to ring in a new year than getting down with some of music’s friskiest rockers? The Red Hot Chili Peppers, almost 30 years in the record books, are at it again and not letting the aging process take them down a notch one bit with their latest album, "I’m With You."
Their newly acquired 31-year-old guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, standing in for the band’s longtime electric guru, John Frusciante, has breathed new energy into the band’s sound. Despite creeping towards his 50s, lead singer Anthony Kiedis isn’t missing a beat, especially with his burly mustache and Bruce Lee-fit torso. Expect an energetic start to 2013 if you’re in that neck of the woods.
2. The Who – Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y. (Nov. 5)
Since the Stones aren’t likely to return until 2013 to celebrate their 50th anniversary, and the Eagles are playing a couple casinos in America’s armpit, this is the next best thing I can see for miles.
The Who have been talking reunion tours for some time now, especially after giving us a taste a few Super Bowl halftime shows ago. It’s been more than four years since the band has touched American soil, so let us welcome them back with loving arms, hop on the magic bus and sing some summertime blues at New York’s heavyweight establishment, Madison Square Garden.
Next: Wild Lives of Country Music Stars
1. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, Calif. (Oct. 17)
This man needs no introduction. If you’ve ever had any musical taste in the past several decades, you know that this is the show to see. Neil Young, upon releasing yet another patriotic record "America," has teamed up with his former bandmates of Crazy Horse to take the country by the short and curlies.
One of the biggest stops along the way includes the monumental show at the Hollywood Bowl, where you can expect to rock in the free world under another harvest moon. Tickets are still being offered, low for the cheap seats up towards a few hundred dollars for seats close enough to count his old wild nose hairs.
We’ll be frank when we point out that Young is still rocking pretty hard, more so than most Bieber fans even in his 70s, so get out and see him while the getting is good.