We here at Immaculate Infatuation have an interesting base of "expertise." By day, we both hold down jobs in the music industry, working in marketing and PR at Atlantic and Warner Bros. Records. But our nights are spent eating out and writing about restaurants for our site. The nature of the music business means we're out all the time seeing shows, and that means a lot of dinners beforehand. After a while, you become the one in your circle who knows where to eat, and suddenly you’re fielding phone calls every time one of your friends wants to impress a date. So now we're the guys who know both music and food. Turns out the only thing you can really do with such a pedigree is start a dinner theater or start a blog, and we're not much for musicals.
So, to mark the kick off of summer, we're bringing you a list of noteworthy summer concerts, and where to grub down and drink up the night of the show. This is the time of year when the best of the best music events happen around the country—from big festivals with 40 bands to intimate one night affairs in the open summer air. But there's nothing worse than seeing the show of your life and ending up with a bag of gas station nachos for dinner. So what's key about the venues we're highlighting here is that there's great food to be had at or around each one. We're confident that taking our advice on any one of these will make this your best summer ever, other than that really awesome one you had at camp when you were 11.
Austin, TX: Stubb's
June 6 and 7, 2011
Weezer isn't dumb. The group that inspired a generation of super-catchy nerdy emo bands knows what their fans want, and they want the classics. So they're playing their two most legendary albums, front to back, across the country. They'll be in Austin on June 6th, playing The Blue Album, and the next night is Pinkerton. Before and after you get your Sweater Song on, take your pick of excellent spots in Austin for eating, including some quality barbeque at the venue itself. We also think you should hit some of the famous food trailers in town, like Odd Duck for Pork Belly Sliders or Franklin's BBQ. A messy plate of tacos from Torchy's will also do just fine.
Las Vegas, NV: Pearl Concert Theatre
Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae
June 16, 2011
Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae proved a perfect pairing at this year's Grammy Awards, when both delivered unique performances that made the buttoned-up crowd get up and dance. Since then, they have taken their show on the road, blowing fans' minds with high-energy sets that are full of singalong hit songs. (Full disclosure: Bruno Mars is on Elektra records, a label owned by Chris's employer Atlantic, but we don't work with him.) They hit Las Vegas in a few weeks, which is a great opportunity for you to do something other than lose all your money at the tables and listen to bad house music by the hotel pool. Vegas obviously has no shortage of big name restaurants, but that's always a high-stakes gamble. If you want guaranteed good eating, Lotus of Siam is just 20 minutes from the venue, and it's one of the country's Meccas for real-deal Thai food. As for the casino restaurants, Blue Ribbon Vegas in the Cosmopolitan Hotel is a great bet, especially for the Oxtail Fried Rice. After the show, skip the clubs and hit the Chandelier Bar in the Cosmopolitan for the ultimate in people watching: The parade of drunks coming and going from Marquee, the 60-million dollar club in the Cosmo, is entertainment at its finest. Or, go to Stoney's with the locals for some hip hop line dancing. Cupid Shuffle anyone? Didn't think so.
Morrison, CO: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
June 17, 2011
Red Rocks is one of the world's greatest outdoor concert venues, situated at 7,000 feet above sea level, and Ray Lamontagne's incredible, raspy voice and blues-country-folk songs will sound even better up in that thin air. The high altitude also means two things that you should keep in mind—you're probably going to get a nose bleed, and two beers will make you wobbly. Put some food in your stomach with a late lunch burger at The Cherry Cricket, and then head up to the hills for some tailgating. Oh, and easy on the boozing. Someone is gonna have to drive you back down a windy mountain road after the show.
Boston, MA: Bank of America Pavilion
My Morning Jacket
June 26th, 2011
There aren't many great rock bands from the last decade, but My Morning Jacket is certainly one. Even if you haven't loved their albums, which can be eclectic to the point of weirdness, their live show is something you need to see at least once. Lead singer Jim James is one of the most dynamic front men to ever strap on a guitar, and there's nothing like being in the crowd for that moment he starts the solo on fan favorite "One Big Holiday." Boston's Bank of America Pavilion is a short cab ride to Neptune Oyster, one of our favorite restaurants on the East Coast: imagine the prettiest brasserie you've ever seen and shrink it so small that you can't help but talk to your neighbors while eating the best seafood in one of the best seafood towns in America.
Chicago, IL: Grant Park
These days the food on site at Lollapalooza, the granddaddy of American music festivals, is pretty damn good, thanks to culinary curator Graham Ellliot. Last year he brought in Blue 13's pork belly sliders, Frank N Dawg's famous Smokin' Brat, and made his own insane lobster corn dogs. Expect even more this year. But eating on site is not your only option, and Chicago is one of the most exciting restaurant cities in the country right now. Do whatever you can to get a table at Schwa, an insane restaurant without a menu, where you can experience things like Jellyfish Pad Thai and Beef Smores to the most intense soundtrack a restaurant's ever seen. If you can't bribe your way into Schwa, be sure to check The Publican for what is absolutely the best pub-inspired food in the country, with the best fries you've ever had and the best beer list in town. Put Longman & Eagle on your list too, for Buffalo style frog legs and amazing whiskeys from around the world, all at $3 a shot.
New York, NY: Central Park Summerstage
Friendly Fires, The Naked & Famous, Cults
August 7th, 2011 (Free Show -3pm)
This is the it show of the summer, where three of the most talked about, buzzworthy bands of the moment will descend on New York. One listen to "Live Those Days Tonight" and you'll be hooked on the Friendly Fires' new album, Pala. Also, if you haven't heard New Zealand's own The Naked & Famous yet, you're sleeping. "Young Blood" is one of the most addictive songs of the year; it's like your favorite dance-pop song on steroids. Central Park is the perfect setting to enjoy a warm, daytime show in Manhattan. But here's the problem: There is nowhere within walking distance from Central Park to eat. Well, there's always Marea or Daniel, but those places aren't letting you in with your skinny jeans and dirty Converse on. So what's a little hipster like you gonna do for eats and drinks after this show? Shuttle everyone down to Brooklyn. Food starts at Fette Sau, an old auto repair shop which now serves the best BBQ in NYC. Drinks continue across the street at Spuyten Duyvil, a beer bar with a huge garden, tailor made for you and all your cool friends. Wrap up the best day of your life with a dozen oysters and a whiskey on the rocks at Marlow & Sons, one of our absolute favorites.
New Orleans, LA: Lakefront Arena
Death Cab For Cutie, Frightened Rabbit
August 12th, 2011
Frightened Rabbit is one our favorite acts that you might not know about yet, a Scottish band singing catchy songs with lyrics that would break your heart if they weren't so funny. And Death Cab for Cutie is one of the best examples of indie-rock-band-gone-big-and-done-good. (Full disclosure: These bands are on Atlantic records, but again, we don't work with them.) But this show is really just an excuse for us to talk about New Orleans. You definitely won't be struggling for food or drink options in this town, but we are completely obsessed with the slightly fancied-up Cajun food at Cochon. Our meal here was the best we had in 2010, and we still fantasize about the wood fired oysters at night. Once you and your girlfriend are done holding each other and weeping at the show, go get loose at the Goldmine, the college bar from which all college bars should be measured. That place is crazy.
San Francisco, CA: Golden Gate Park
Outside Lands (Phish, Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, MGMT)
The people behind Outside Lands are as serious about their eats as they are about their tunes. Every year, this show has a great diversity among acts, making it widely appealing but always well curated. This years lineup of jam-friendly, modern-hippie approved talent includes Arcade Fire, Black Keys, MGMT, The Roots, and of course, two sets from Phish, just so your old college roommate has a reason to break out the Birkenstocks and gravity bong. Taste of the Bay is the food component of the festival, and this year's lineup features porchetta sandwiches from Flour & Water—one of GQ's 10 Best New Restaurants in the country—and you can also find burritos from the legendary Gordo Taqueria. Before the show, stop by Hog Island Oyster Bar in the Ferry Building and enjoy a late breakfast of champions: baked oysters gratin and a beer. You want to get fancy? The tasting menu at Quince is still one of the best in the city, with some of the most amazing pasta on earth -- the lobster pastas are absolutely insane. Afterwards, the Wayfare Tavern is the spot for smashing cocktails.
East Hampton, NY: Runway 4
MTK Festival (Vampire Weekend, Matt & Kim, Chromeo, Fitz & The Tantrums)
In the summer, well-heeled New Yorkers take refuge out east—way east, to the Hamptons at the end of Long Island. But now, Long Island is getting its very own music festival. The debut of Music To Know (MTK) will bring indie rock's finest to East Hampton, so fancy Hamptonites will have to share room on the jitneys with kids half their age. Whatever category you fall in, while you're there, make sure to experience lobster roll bliss at Lunch in Amagansett and drop by South Edison in Montauk for a Six Point Craft Ale and their signature Spicy Tuna BLT. A happy hour cocktail at Surf Lodgeand a nightcap at Ruschmeyers are never bad ideas either.
Los Angeles, CA: Greek Theater
August 26, 2011
You'd be hard pressed to find anyone in hip hop with a better live show than Atmosphere. Slug and Ant are in their element on stage, and the best city in which to see them (besides their hometown of Minneapolis) is Los Angeles. LA loves Atmosphere as much as they love food trucks. And anyone who's been to a hip hop show knows that they're are usually no girls there, which makes the plethora of females at an LA Atmosphere show a welcome anomaly. No, all those lady shrieks are not for Justin Bieber. They're for Slug. Fellas, make sure you've got the lyrics to "Trying To Find A Balance" down before the show, you don't want to embarrass yourself. Before you head to The Greek, hit West Hollywood's Sun of a Gun, the new restaurant from the team behind Animal, for a Fried Chicken Sandwich. Or get some outdoor Mexican eats at Loteria Grill. Post show drinks should happen at Little Dom's, or, if you have a really good night, breakfast there is awesome too.