Six Labor Day Weekend Concerts to See

One of my favorite things about three-day weekends is that it allows for more time to see live music without having to get up early the next day. (Not that this has ever stopped me before—I’m something of a night owl.) As it turns out, however, a number of notable shows are taking place just when we get that extra day of rest, so why not take advantage of it? Here are six Labor Day weekend concerts to add to your calendar.


Chris Isaak (August 28, Humphreys Concerts by the Bay): If Chris Isaak’s career is remembered for nothing more than "Wicked Game," it’d still be a legacy that stands taller than most. That unexpected, Roy Orbison-influenced hit from 1989 just turned 30 and its dreamy, surfy, melancholy appeal hasn’t waned since. But, of course, Isaak’s career has had numerous highs since then, from the rockabilly-tinged Forever Blue to his starring role in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me as FBI agent Chester Desmond.

ZZ Top (August 28, Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theater): There were a lot of bands from the ‘60s and ‘70s whose names weren’t Fleetwood Mac that had trouble adjusting to the trends of the ’80s. Certainly some of them were commercially successful if stylistically cringeworthy in hindsight (see: Starship’s "We Built This City"), but rare was the artist who could seamlessly enter a new decade while retaining both freshness and artistic identity. Enter ZZ Top. While I can’t necessarily defend a song like "Legs," or for that matter some of their anachronistic video tropes, their 1983 blues-rock hit album Eliminator remains a thrilling listen, especially "Gimme All Your Lovin’."

Throwing Muses (August 30, Soda Bar): I have a confession to make: This weekend I’ll actually be up in Pasadena, crossing off a major bucket-list band when I see The Cure at the Pasadena Daydream Festival. It turns out that one of the bands playing the fest, Throwing Muses, will touch down in San Diego the night beforehand. College radio darlings from the ‘80s and ‘90s, the Kristin Hersh-fronted New England group has built up a catalog of excellent alternative rock records that merit a re-listen.

Massive Attack (September 1, Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theater): Bristol trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack released their legendary album Mezzanine in 1998, and for its 20th anniversary planned a worldwide tour that found them joined by collaborators such as Cocteau Twins’ Elisabeth Fraser. The tour had to be rescheduled earlier this year, but they’re finally making it to San Diego to bless us with an evening of darkly mesmerizing electronic music.

Geezer’s Retirement Party (September 1, The Casbah): I’m not usually one to shine the spotlight on cover bands—or Weezer, for that matter—but San Diego’s beloved geriatric Weezer cover band, Geezer, is having a retirement party at The Casbah with a bunch of their friends, including Shades McCool, Pony Death Ride, and robot-and-professor duo Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra. It’s a bittersweet sendoff, but it’ll be impossible not to have fun at this early-bird show (starts at 3 p.m.!).

Local Natives (September 3, Music Box): I’ve been following the career of Orange County’s Local Natives since they released their debut album, 2009’s Gorilla Manor. They’ve slowly but surely built up a bigger following and landed on a bigger label, and only continue to hone their uniquely subtle and warm style of indie rock.

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