For music lovers, the best season is concert season.

Late spring and summer, when the region’s open-air venues provide music under the night sky, brings out the best live concert events of the year. Over the next four months, fans can catch legendary performers such as Neil Diamond and Tom Petty, master entertainers such as Future and Bruno Mars and the visual spectacle of the Flaming Lips.

The only problem is figuring out which ones to see.

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As one of the major music markets in the country, Indianapolis is a prime stop for nearly all of the must-see acts hitting the road this year. At the same time, the region’s smaller venues have lined up an impressive slate of up-and-comers to catch in more intimate settings.

To help you create your calendar, and ensure your wallet makes it through the summer intact, here are some of the highlights coming up:

Heavy hitters

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Klipsch Music Center, 12880 E. 146th St., Noblesville

Cost: Mostly sold out; remaining tickets between $149 and $420.

Why: To celebrate their 40th anniversary, Petty and his longtime bandmates are heading out on the road. They’ll be visiting Indianapolis for the first time since 2013, performing classics such as “Free Fallin,” “Refugee” and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” It’ll be a rock legend two-fer, with Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh serving as the opening act.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

When: 8 p.m. May 18

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 125 S. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis

Cost: $49 to $99

Why: The surf-funk-punk rockers from Southern California come back to Indianapolis in support of their most recent album, “The Getaway.” Even after performing for 30-plus years, lead singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea and the rest of the band bring unabashed energy on stage. They’ve been on the road since January and have drawn rave reviews for their enthusiasm and punch.

Neil Diamond

When: 8 p.m. May 26

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Cost: $29.50 and up

Why: Another anniversary tour hits the Circle City, this time featuring Neil Diamond as he celebrates 50 years of music greatness. Scream along to “Sweet Caroline,” “Red Red Wine” and the rest of the seemingly unending catalog of hits, as he shows why Billboard bestowed on him their highest award for touring musicians, the Legend of Live honor.

Future

When: 7 p.m. June 3

Where: Klipsch Music Center

Cost: $30 and up

Why: Future has had quite a year so far. In back-to-back weeks, he released new albums, first the self-titled “FUTURE,” followed by “HNDRXX.” And in back-to-back weeks, the Atlanta rapper claimed the No. 1 album in the land. On the back of this success, Future will be touring with a host of emerging hip-hop artists, including Migos and Tony Lanez.

Wilco

When: 7:30 p.m. June 13

Where: Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park, 801 W. Washington St., Indianapolis

Cost: $29.50 and up

Why: Few bands have had as strange of a career arc as Wilco. Born as an alt-country outfit from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo, it slowly morphed to a more experimental indie rock band. Their most recent release, “Schmilco,” features lead singer Jeff Tweedy and company as more introspective and reserved, yet crisp as ever.

Bruno Mars

When: 8 p.m. Aug. 13

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Cost: Available seats start at $143 and go up.

Why: The king of modern funk, Bruno Mars has specialized in bombastic R&B hits while at the same time transitioning to more easy-crooning ballads. His “24K Magic” album released in late 2016 has spun off two Top 10 Billboard hits, adding to his already supremely danceable catalog.

Green Day

When: 7 p.m. Aug. 16

Where: Klipsch Music Center

Cost: $29 and up

Why: From their youthful punk days in the early ‘90s to the more mature and socially conscious rock of the past decade, Green Day’s evolution has mirrored that of a whole generation of listeners. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers will be supporting their most recent album, 2016’s politically charged “Revolution Radio.”

Zac Brown Band

When: 7 p.m. Aug. 25

Where: Klipsch Music Center

Cost: $28 and up

Why: Under the stars on a hot late-summer night with a cold drink in hand is the right way to see Zac Brown Band, whose blend of country twang and tropical themes takes the baton from Jimmy Buffett for the coming decades. With their “Welcome Home” album coming out Friday, expect a healthy dash of new material to supplement classics such as “Toes” and “Knee Deep.”

The Flaming Lips

When: 7 p.m. Sept. 19

Where: Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn

Cost: $39.50 and up

Why: The Flaming Lips have built a reputation for live shows that are wildly weird and visually stunning. It’s not uncommon for lead singer Wayne Coyne to roll out into the crowd in a massive plastic ball, or to ride a light up robot unicorn. But the spectacle doesn’t overshadow the band’s free-flowing psychedelic rock; it only serves to enhance it.

Don’t-Break-the-Bank alternatives

The Struts

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Where: Deluxe at Old National Centre

Cost: $17.50

Why: This foursome from Derby, England, has no shortage of swagger and ego, as the name suggests. Their glam-inspired hard rock has won the band fans throughout the United Kingdom, and earned them an opening spot on Guns N’ Roses’ 2016 tour.

Wavves

When: 8:30 p.m. May 22

Where: The Hi-Fi, 1043 Virginia Ave. Suite 4, Indianapolis

Cost: $20

Why: Summer was made for surf-punk prodigy Nathan Williams, who brings his band to Indy to perform songs such as “King of the Beach” and “Demon to Lean On.”

Future Islands

When: 8 p.m. June 9

Where: Egyptian Room at Old National Centre

Cost: $22

Why: Known for their whirlwind live shows, see the Baltimore-based band as it tours in support of a new album, “The Far Field,” released on April 7.

Greensky Bluegrass

When: 6 p.m. June 10

Where: MacAllister Amphitheater at Garfield Park, 2450 Conservatory Dr., Indianapolis

Cost: $25

Why: Jammy bluegrass and improvised riffs with guitar, mandolin and banjo are the perfect complement to sitting under the evening sky at Garfield Park’s historic bandstand.

The Revivalists with Robert Randolph and the Family Band

When: 7 p.m. June 23

Where: Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn

Cost: $27.50 and up

Why: The roots-rock band from New Orleans headlines this year’s WTTS Rock on the River, a benefit for the Indiana Children’s Wish Fund. Don’t miss Randolph, a wizard on the pedal steel guitar.

Turquoise Jeep

When: 9 p.m. June 23

Where: The Hi-Fi

Cost: $15

Why: The hip-hop record label founded by rappers Flynt Flossy and Whatchyamacallit has become a force in the indie music scene, choosing to release new music via YouTube videos that garner millions of hits.

Eagles of Death Metal

When: 9 p.m. June 29

Where: The Vogue, 6259 N. College Ave., Indianapolis

Cost: $25 in advance, $30 at the door

Why: Don’t let the name fool you. Eagles of Death Metal may excel at pounding rhythms and blistering guitar licks, but the “death metal” portion of their moniker is a joke. Still, expect to rock.

Clayton Anderson

When: 7 p.m. Aug. 5

Where: Mallow Run Winery, 6964 W. Whiteland Road, Bargersville

Cost: $15 advance, $20 day of

Why: Anderson, a Bedford native, has been establishing himself as one of country’s most unique voices. His new six-song EP “Only To Borrow” is out now.

The only thing better than seeing live music in the summer is getting into the show for free. Johnson County and the surrounding areas have a wide array of free concerts available; here’s a rundown of what’s been announced so far.

May 27

Cari Ray, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Mallow Run Winery, 6964 W. Whiteland Road, Bargersville

May 28

The Tides, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

May 29

Acoustic Catfish, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

June 1

Rod Tuffcurls and the Bench Press, 6:30 p.m., Greenwood Park Mall outdoor fountain

June 3

Stawberry Festival, with Kelleen Strutz from 1 to 4 p.m. and Mike & Joe from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

The Flying Toasters, 7 p.m., Greenwood Amphitheater, 100 Surina Way

June 4

Strawberry Festival, with the Woomblies from 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

June 8

Blue River Band, 6:30 p.m., Greenwood Park Mall outdoor fountain

June 10

The Blue River Band, 7 p.m., Greenwood Amphitheater

June 11

Exit 99, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

June 15

Simply Elton, 6:30 p.m., Greenwood Park Mall outdoor fountain

June 16

Toy Factory, 7 p.m., Smoke on the Square, downtown Franklin

June 17

Blue River Band, 7 p.m., Smoke on the Square, downtown Franklin

Lemon Wheel, 7 p.m., Greenwood Amphitheater

Royalty, a Prince tribute band, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

June 18

Davis and Devitt, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

June 22

Mike and Joe, 6:30 p.m., Greenwood Park Mall outdoor fountain

June 23

Tribute to Johnny Cash & Patsy Cline, 7 to 10 p.m., downtown Bargersville

June 25

Wilsons, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

June 29

Henry Lee, 6:30 p.m., Greenwood Park Mall outdoor fountain

July 1

Toy Factory, 7 p.m., Greenwood Amphitheater

Red, White & Blueberry Festival, with music by Andra Faye & Scott Ballantine, 1 to 4 p.m.; the Big 80s, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

July 2

Red, White & Blueberry Festival, with music by An Innocent Band, a Billy Joel tribute, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

July 3

Red, White & Blueberry Festival, with music by Christine Nicole, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

July 6

Corey Cox, 6:30 p.m., Greenwood Park Mall outdoor fountain

July 8

My Yellow Rickshaw, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

July 9

The Sax Guy, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

July 13

The Stranger, 6:30 p.m., Greenwood Park Mall outdoor fountain

July 14

Toy Factory, 7 p.m., Daily Journal Street Party, downtown Franklin

July 15

Tastes Like Chicken, 7 p.m., Greenwood Amphitheater

The Doo! Band, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

July 16

Acoustic Flashback, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

July 20

The Blind Side, 6:30 p.m., Greenwood Park Mall outdoor fountain

July 22

Toy Factory, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

Living Proof, 7 p.m., Greenwood Amphitheater

July 23

Half-Step Sisters, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

July 30

Chicken Bone, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

July 29

The Big 80s, 7 p.m., Greenwood Amphitheater

Aug. 5

Indy Nile, 7 p.m., Greenwood Amphitheater

Aug. 6

Wilsons, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

Aug. 12

The Bishops, 7 p.m., Greenwood Amphitheater

Tastes Like Chicken, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

Aug. 13

Steve Michaels, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

Aug. 18

Hazelwood String Band, 7 to 10 p.m., downtown Bargersville

Aug. 19

Blue River Band, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

Aug. 20

Davis & Devitt, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

Aug. 26

Living Proof, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

Aug. 27

Acoustic Catfish, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

Sept. 2

Craig Brenner & the Catfish, 1 to 4 p.m.; Hunter Smith Band, 5: 30 to 8:30 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

Sept. 3

HT3, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

Sept. 4

Joe Hess & the Wandering Cowboys, 2 to 5 p.m., Mallow Run Winery

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.