Seven Can't-Miss Bands at Summer Ends Music Festival

J. ColeEXPAND
J. Cole
Courtesy of Summer Ends Music Festival

Summer Ends Music Festival round two is right around the corner, and for its second year of early fall festing Lucky Man Concerts has brought Kanye West into the mix. What is the point of some other useless turn of phrase when the just the use of his name spruces up the paragraph? There certainly are other standouts on the lineup, but bringing Yeezus into the Tempe festival scene is probably the biggest thing to happen to Tempe Beach Park since they dammed the Salt River. There is no reason to compare last year's show to this year's because the Louie Vuitton Don changes everything.

But Kanye isn't the only one on the lineup. Here are seven can’t-miss acts of Summer Ends.

Brand New - Friday, September 25
Kanye is obviously the biggest act playing Summer Ends Music Festival, but Brand New is a decently close second. Yeezy is certainly the only headliner of this year's show that would be headlining any festival he played, but Brand New would be somewhere near the top of the lineup for sure. The New York-based alt-rock four-piece have been kicking around the music industry for nearly two decades, and its penchant for long breaks is a huge part of what keeps them so relevant. During the summer the reclusive rockers released a new track as well as some new merch and gave the old website a makeover. All these little moves are considered a very big deal to Brand Nizzle’s legions of loyal followers, and I wouldn’t even be half surprised if the group announced the release date of its upcoming album while onstage in Tempe. 

Spoon - Friday, September 25
Spoon dropped a new album last year and all the music nerds on my Facebook page started to salivate (editor's note: I am one of said nerds). and now those very same nerds will be able to salivate to Spoon in person. Spoon doesn’t make a ton of appearances in the Valley; hell, they don’t make a ton of appearances at all, so this opportunity to catch them on the festival stage in Tempe is a pretty special one.

J. Cole - Saturday, September 26
J. Cole is one of the most exciting rappers out on the national and international level. His talent is transcendent to the point that the guy basically went straight from releasing his own mixtapes to signing with Roc Nation in no time flat. His first album in 2011 debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and his most recent album, 2014 Forest Drive, became the first rap album to be certified platinum since 1989 to contain no features. Given just a few more he will no doubt be stepping up to headline the Bonnaroos and Coachellas of the world. For now though, as headliner for Summer Ends Music Festival's Saturday lineup, Tempe will get to catch a glimpse of the what the future of major mainstream hip-hop is going to look like.

Cold War Kids - Thursday, September 24
Cold War Kids are another act that adds to the legitimacy of Summer Ends as an actual national level festival. The Cali-based indie rockers have played just about every meaningful festival around the United States and abroad and the fact that they are so low on the poster really shows off the caliber of this year's lineup extremely well. Last time Cold War Kids played an outdoor venue in Phoenix they got caught out in a cold rain in the Crescent Ballroom parking lot; while last year's Summer Ends got demolished by a monsoon storm. So hopefully that's enough weather catastrophes for one band in one city, and their set Thursday night goes off without a hitch. 

Jimmy Eat World - Friday, September 25
Valley legends playing Tempe Beach Park for the first time in four years — what could be bad? This is Jimmy Eat World on their home turf at their most comfortable. The last time they played the shores of Tempe Town Lake they were standing in for My Chemical Romance opening for Blink 182 on the Honda Civic Tour at Fall Frenzy and they were stellar. This time, with a multi-genre lineup and major festival promotion, all that can be expected is more people to lose their minds to the hits like “The Middle.” Not every festival gets to welcome a legendary native son to the stage to entertain his hometown crowd, but Tom LaPenna and Lucky Man wanted to make this one uniquely Phoenix.

Slightly Stoopid - Saturday, September 26
Tempe/Mesa has long been a reggae/punk sort of place, which is why Slightly Stoopid usually rolls through for a show at least once or twice a year. All their later music for the most part is about irie vibes and puffing the reefer. But when they reach back to their roots. the California-based dubstars were just some San Diego punks. That’s what attracted former Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell to sign them to his label when they were still in high school, and that’s what began attracting Slightly’s now massive fan base back when they got started in 1995. The reggae rockers have really played just about every notable venue in town, and following their 2014 appearance at McDowell Mountain Music Festival it’s looking like they have their sights set on the Phoenix festival circuit.

Kanye West - Sunday, September 27
If the opening paragraph didn’t hint  at this enough, Kanye West is probably the best act that is going to grace the stage at Summer Ends Music Festival, that is unless Lucky Man ponied up the dough to bring Jay Z or Beyonce along with him. Yeezy is an absolute musical icon with co-signings from other brilliant musical minds all along the way. Whether you love him or hate him, you have heard of his antics, you know who he is, and I’m fairly certain you have felt in someway challenged by him — whether musically, racially, or intellectually. Agreement with every statement he makes is not what drives my personal admiration for Yeezy. but it’s the gusto with which he makes his statements. The mass media world erupted when Kanye stood on national television and announced to millions of people that George Bush doesn’t care about black people, and whether or not you agree with that statement is irrelevant. It’s how a wealthy black man felt about the American power structure, so imagine what the masses must feel like. Kanye West is the voice of a bastard generation fighting over table scraps from the generation before us. Kanye doesn’t adjust his music for popular trends; he creates the popular musical trends. So if you want to know what’s up next in music, show up to Summer Ends and hope Lord Yeezy blesses us with a new joint. And even if you can't stand the guy, you have to admit — he'd be a better president than Trump, right?

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