Summer 2024 Concert Wish List

These are the hot tip concerts for San Diego lovers of live music.

Another summer is upon us and we have a bounty of great concerts scattered on the calendar. If you hit any of these shows, you will come home quite happy.

Rady Shell

Khruangbin – Apr 16: If there is a cooler trio on tour this summer, I need to know. This enigmatic band has an addictive admixture of smooth Afropop, rock steady and astral Hendrix guitar stylings. You can see them in the desert setting of Coachella or closer to home, surrounded on three sides by San Diego Bay. Having just dropped their latest single “Pon Pón” the band will undoubtedly be assaying tracks from the album they will have released 11 days before this gig. What a great setting.

Roger Daltrey + KT Tunstall – May 6: What a superb double bill, the first of several in this list. Tunstall goes from strength to strength. Her latest album “Face To Face” is a delightful but seemingly improbable pairing with Suzi Quatro. Meanwhile, one of the last great British lead singers promises an evening of presenting “a mostly acoustic set of Who gems, rarities, solo nuggets and other surprises with an intimate rock-based band and setting as well as answering questions from the audience.” Carrying out the latter aspect will be intriguiging. Pete’s brother Simon Townshend will be on guitars, along with a crack band steeped in the lore of of the fabled Daltrey.

Humphreys By The Bay

Brittany Howard – Apr 20: With her Grammy winning band Alabama Shakes on indeterminate hiatus, Howard has leveraged a brilliant solo career. He music definitely reflects her stated influences: Led Zeppelin, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Prince, Curtis Mayfield, David Bowie, Mavis Staples, Tom Waits, Björk, Gil Scott-Heron, Freddie Mercury, and Tina Turner. As a professed lover of sauna, it is uncertain if Howard’s contract rider will include a portable sauna at this venue for a post-gig session; we can expect a scorching set regardless.

Chris Isaak – Sep 4: One of the most consistent concert attractions is this native son of Stockton. His between-song patter is only occasionally eclipsed by that other master of the stage, Lyle Lovett. Both revel in a self-deprecating attitude, indeed Isaak turned that into an acclaimed TV series (Chris, it’s time to make it available again!). Isaak’s band is the perfect foil for his clever stagecraft, they are superb musicians first and excellent in front of a crowd.

Bonnie Raitt + James Hunter – Sept 10, 11: Another great double bill. Hunter has a string of successful releases, and no less a curmudgeon than the peerless Van Morrison asserts that Hunter is “the best voice and best-kept secret in British R&B and soul.” Many of Hunter’s most popular songs have a ska-inflected flavor. His smooth delivery is a perfect opener for the heroic song book that Raitt has built over the decades. A tremendous interpreter of previously undiscovered songwriters (can you say Paul Brady?), Raitt has written a wealth of her own material as well. Expect an eclectic blend of both on this stop of her “Just Like That…Tour of 2024.”

Belly Up

Old 97’s – Apr 7: With a dozen albums under their belt, this Dallas band has straddled the alt-country and rock genres with aplomb. The main brain of the operation is lead singer and songwriter Rhett Miller, who weaves his Austin roots through the band’s Texas themes.

Jim Messina – Apr 14: Messina was in the last round-up of the acclaimed but ultimately ill-fated Buffalo Springfield. Messina reached mainstream success when he moved from behind the mixing board and found himself sitting in with Kenny Loggins. A series of wonderful albums resulted. Messina’s skill at crafting songs remains undiminished.

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors – May 12: One of the great surprises of fatherhood is the sublime way our daughters have turned on their parents to new music. Drew Holcomb thereby entered my radar screen years ago, and each subsequent tour and new song has been a delight. With a new album just released, Holcomb and his band (they all live in the same zip code, hence the name) will hopefully weave new songs among his brilliant selections such as “Find Your People” and “American Beauty.”

Cowboy Junkies – Jun 16: This seated show will be a satisfying stroll the band’s 39 years and 26 albums without a lineup change. For those needing bombast and theatrics, best look elsewhere. Margot Timmins’ crystalline vocals glide effortlessly over the supremely tasteful guitars and drums of her brothers Michael and Peter, all held down by Alan Anton’s bass. The lovely new album Such Ferocious Beauty will undoubtedly feature in the setlist. For a sense of the Timmins approach to making music, Michael has stated: “I want to make somebody feel the way I did when I heard Ziggy Stardust or Transformer for the first time. Just tickle something in their heart or brain, right? That’s the point.”

Hot Tuna – Oct 1: The 1969 spinoff from Jefferson Airplane has been humming along consistently for years. Comprised of Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, Hot Tuna has mostly provided a respite for performer and listener from the big, loud and flashy exercises that can be enjoyable in another space and time. Although the band experimented with an electric power trio format, the current incarnation has evolved full circle to the acoustic folk blues format most loved by their fans. This seated show in an intimate space will be a treat.


Balboa Theatre

John Cleese – Apr 9,8: As the tall uptight member of Monty Python, Cleese always reveled in his apparent authority being less than his character expected. He riffed on that motif in Fawlty Towers, which despite its long shadow (persistently voted best British TV sitcom of all time) was only twelve (12!) episodes long. He will leverage all that (plus his roles in films, professor-at-large at Cornell and business training videos) in the tour he is calling “JOHN CLEESE: LAST CHANCE TO SEE ME BEFORE I DIE.”


Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheatre at SDSU

Neil Young + Crazy Horse – Apr 24+25: As my wife is wont to point out, there is the acoustic Neil (whom she loves) and there is the wiry Neil (of whom she is more circumspect). On these dates we will get more of the foot stomping latter. Neil has slowly let his music come back to Spotify, but most in attendance will be familiar with the setlist regardless. Neil has forged his own path, despite occasional protests (and a lawsuit) from his labels, but his fanbase remains steadfast and undeterred. Bring your earplugs.

Tedeschi Trucks – June 8: These two musicians first toured together in separate bands, but eventually merged not only their musical lives but their personal lives. The married couple earned a Grammy Award with their first album, and have grown a stalwart army of fans with their fluid guitar work and sterling vocals.

Daryl Hall + Elvis Costello & The Imposters with Charlie Sexton – June 16: The last of our fabulous double bills is actually a triple bill. Hall and Costello have written enough songs to last about a week of shows (in fact Costello did just about that recently, check out my buddy’s exclusive report here). Hall and Costello are no strangers, they recorded together on the latter’s “Only Flame in Town” (from an album Costello has since dismissed). Sexton, the unexpected bonus in this lineup, forever impressed me when I saw how kicked Bob Dylan’s ass into gear on stage for several years. This will be a fantastic night.


La Jolla Music Society: The Baker-Baum Concert Hall

California Dreamin’ – August 17: a lineup of noted musicians led by pianist Conrad Tao assays Sergei Rachmaninoff’s years in California, supplemented by selections from several of my favorite more contemporary composers: Terry Reilly and John Adams. Did you know the former was one of the two inspirations for Pete Townshend when he composed “Baba O’Reilly,” the lead track on Who’s Next? The evening’s show notes are certainly compelling: “This journey through California’s rich artistic legacy showcases the diverse influences and inspirations found within its vibrant landscape, from its pioneering composers to myriad stories that have been woven under its expansive skies.”


Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.