GR music scene heats up

Courtesy Photo /
Red Hot Chili Peppers will be performing in Grand Rapids this summer

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Red Hot Chili Peppers will be performing in Grand Rapids this summer

Chris LaFoy

The absolute best time to go to concerts in West Michigan is during the summer and from outdoor festivals to arena shows, Grand Rapids is gearing up for a loud season.

The biggest collection of music fans in West Michigan will be found at the Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury. This three-day festival starts on June 28 and should be attended by about 50,000 fans. Headlining the festival will be jam-band String Cheese Incident and electronic groups Bassnectar, STS9 and Thievery Corporation. This annual festival includes much more than music including art, camping and sports.

Two large festivals will be hosted in downtown Grand Rapids this summer. The Prospecto Music Showcase and the Rock the Rapids festival will both be returning to the streets and venues of West Michigan. Neither of these festivals has announced lineups or dates yet, but both have set a precedent of bringing big names in their short histories.

Founders Brewery will continue their yearly takeover of Downtown Grand Rapids to host the 2012 Founders Fest. On June 23, national and local acts including Four Finger Five, Ultraviolet Hippopotamus and the Crane Wives will play on a stage constructed in the middle of Grandville Avenue. This festival has quickly become a local favorite.

The newest player in the Grand Rapids festival game is the Pyramid Scheme. This venue has easily been on the forefront of bringing national groups to town during their short existence and their plans for their first outdoor show is no different. On June 16, a stage constructed on Oakes Avenue will be populated by groups including Dead Prez, the Men, Pinback, El Ten Eleven and Frontier Ruckus. The Pyramid Scheme is also planning multiple must see shows for the rest of the summer.

The Orbit Room has focused on bringing nation hard rock acts to Grand Rapids throughout the summer. On May 6, Marilyn Manson will bring his always controversial and always popular show to the Orbit Room. On May 17, ex-Guns n’ Roses guitarist Slash will also perform at the Orbit Room.

The Summer Concert Series at the Frederick Meijer Gardens announced its summer schedule last week and it is packed with big names. On June 1, the pop act The B-52’s will open the concert season to a surely packed house. Multiple Grammy winner Melissa Etheridge will perform on June 8. The rest of the schedule includes names such as Foreigner, Rufus Wainwright, Fiona Apple, Huey Lewis and the News, O.A.R., Brandi Carlisle and Gov’t Mule. Ticket prices and dates for all of these shows are available at

Two of the biggest shows of the summer will be at the Van Andel Arena. On May 26, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will put on their high-energy show and on June 6, former Pink Floyd rocker Roger Waters will be bringing back the hugely successful show the “Wall.”

Obviously there are too many shows to preview here for the summer. Grand Rapids is blessed with some great venues and even better music fans. On any night of the week there is a great show on a stage somewhere in town, go out and enjoy this city.

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