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The Summer Concert Guide

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It’s summer, and while there are still serious symphonies and operas on cultural calendars everywhere, we like to spend the hotter months focused on the straight-up fun stuff, like festivals, one-off concerts, and full-on throwback tours.

The Nightowls with The Digital Wild at the Scoot Inn

July 25 | 1308 E. 4th St. | 512.394.5486

The Scoot Inn is one of the oldest operating bars in Austin, and it still feels like a total dive, complete with a deer mount, Skee-Ball machines, and saloon doors. It's also one of the best places to experience Austin's homegrown music scene: We hear the July 25th double feature of The Digital Wild (a cool-kid blend of indie and hip-hop) and The Nightowls (a very fun 10-piece Motown band) shouldn't be missed.

Hip Hop Hooray Showcase at Stay Gold

August 1 | 1910 E. Cesar Chavez

Stay Gold is a relative newcomer to Austin's live music scene, but since owners Will Tanner and Nathan Hill both cut their teeth at the legendary Hole in the Wall bar, locals are expecting great things. The Hip Hop Hooray Showcase, which spotlights local hip-hop groups (you don't want to miss Magna Carda), is a great night to test the waters.

First Aid Kit and Andy Schauf at Stubb’s BBQ

July 16 | 801 Red River Rd. | 512.480.8341

We were listening to "My Silver Lining" on repeat this fall, so we knew that seeing Swedish sister act First Aid Kit in concert was a summer priority. Austin's Stubb's BBQ, which is famous for hosting Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Stevie Ray Vaughn as well as an excellent all-you-can-eat barbecue, is a pretty perfect venue for the occasion. Plus, it will be one of Stubb's few outside shows of the summer.

Willie Nelson & Family 4th of July Picnic at Austin 360 Amphitheatre

July 4 | 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd, Del Valle | 512.301.6600

Willie Nelson has been celebrating the 4th of July with his signature picnic/music festival since the '70s, when he hosted it on a San Antonio ranch. This year, the traveling event is setting up camp in Austin's newly renovated 360 Amphitheater, which is also home to a racetrack. The 20-band lineup makes this feel like a one-day festival, and names like Eric Church, Merle Haggard, and Kacey Musgraves are all performing before Willie's finale. The bottom line: belting out "Whiskey River" at a Formula One track is an awesomely Texas way to spend the 4th.

Sam Smith at Frank Erwin Center

August 15 | 1701 Red River St. | 512.477.6060

Like so many notable English exports before him, Sam Smith can pull at heartstrings (see: "Stay with Me," "Leave Your Lover"), making it kind of crazy that he's just 23 years old. His piano skills seem equally improbable, so cross your fingers for some acoustic stuff. Side note: his Instagram feed makes us love him even more.