Metro Detroit Culture Calendar for June 2024

Columnist Ryan Patrick Hooper’s picks for June concerts, plus memories from live shows from the past.
Khruangbin is playing at the Masonic Temple on June 4. // Photograph by Mary-Kang

Another summer concert season is here. And it’s a stacked one. You’ll notice a vast array of shows in Hour Detroit’s listings this month. On top of that, there are quite a few I want to share with you, and we’ll get to that point.

But aren’t the best summer concerts around here about the memories surrounding them, the people you were with? I don’t hear a lot of people talk about the fidelity of the sound or how the lighting transformed the show entirely. Those things do happen, and play a critical role, but when we talk about shows, we’re talking about how we experienced them. That’s a powerful thing — a perfect memory (or a chaotic one) paired with perfect music (or an insanely bad show that you made the most of).

I’ll never forget my first show, which was also my first time in the mosh pit. It was the Warped Tour in the Phoenix Center parking lot in Pontiac, and I saw a whole range of punk bands with my cousin, who was a little older than me, but not by much. I was maybe 10 years old, and my parents said, “Just get back to the car by sunset.” I don’t want to go all Mitch Albom on you, but do you give your kids the same freedom at a show today? Should you?

Around that age, I also got to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at Pine Knob Music Theatre with my parents and aunt and uncle. And that was through a whole different lens, watching my parents drink maybe a little too much and then puke in the bushes as we walked to the car (my uncle was the designated driver and hated all of us for it).

But the beautiful thing was the memory. I don’t remember the set list, but I’ll never forget how funny that moment was, watching adults become fallible for the first time. And how great to know who Tom Petty was at that age because my parents had me listening to everything under the sun.

Years later, I’d get arrested for smoking a joint on top of the hill at Pine Knob while Heart played. When I went to court, the judge made everyone from the bailiff to my parents laugh when he said, “How the hell do you get busted for smoking weed at Pine Knob?”

Running through this list of shows that are on my radar for this month, I hope you make the same memories — but hopefully more legal ones.

John Carroll Kirby is a jazz musician who has collaborated with Frank Ocean and Harry Styles. // Photograph by Seal Shiloni

I’m infatuated with the idea of seeing Khruangbin with John Carroll Kirby (June 4 at the Masonic Temple in Detroit). Khruangbin has proved that a mostly instrumental three-piece deep-groove band can sell out music venues, and John Carroll Kirby is a jazz keys virtuoso who has become the go-to session performer for Harry Styles, Solange, and others.

Lalah Hathaway (June 5 at the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre in Detroit) is the daughter of Donny Hathaway and has that generational voice. I’ll always say that The Aretha, right on the Detroit riverfront, is an all-timer for shows in the summer (you can see people listening on their boats behind the stage).

Corinne Bailey Rae (June 12 at Sound Board at MotorCity Casino Hotel) is touring her most experimental album yet — it will be a show you don’t want to miss.

If you’re looking for something more international that will absolutely rip your face off (this one is for you, guitar nerds), Mdou Moctar (June 19 at The Magic Bag) is just the ticket. His music is a blend of modern rock and Tuareg guitar, a style of desert blues from North and West Africa.

Danielle Ponder (June 21 at El Club) has one of the best voices in the game right now. She uses it to sing over a blend of blues, R&B, and rock that’s uniquely her own. I truly get flashes of Nina Simone listening to her, and that’s high praise. This will be the smallest venue she ever plays in Detroit, because she is destined for big, big things.

Hiatus Kaiyote will perform at the Royal Oak Music Theatre on June 23. // Photograph by Rocket Weijers

And if you’re into that sort of sound, you’ll really dig the soulful alternative jazz sound of Hiatus Kaiyote (June 23 at Royal Oak Music Theatre).

No matter which shows you go to, remember it’s the memories that come along with the music that you’ll be carrying with you for the rest of the summer and beyond. And be sure to say hi if you see me at these shows, because I’m aiming to be at each and every one of them.

Ryan Patrick Hooper is the host of In the Groove on 101.9 WDET, Detroit’s NPR station (weekdays from noon to 3 p.m.).

This story originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. To read more, pick up a copy of Hour Detroit at a local retail outlet. Our digital edition will be available on June 6.