Summer Sounds: Live Music in the Magic City

June 1, 2024

by Brooke Wagner  |  Photo by Arianna Skoog

Summer days, drifting away, To-ah! Oh, the summer nights!” So goes the line from the popular Grease tune, “Summer Nights,” made famous by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. Fortunately for the bustling town of Billings, the summer days AND nights are just beginning as we look toward what the summer months have to offer in the music scene. Summer music events illuminate parks, neighborhoods, and city streets as the days stretch longer and the sun lingers in the sky. Bringing together locals and travelers visiting Montana for the first time, these events invite concert-goers to kick back, relax, and soak in the sounds of an all-around good-time vibe. From soul-stirring symphonies under a wide open sky to the lingering strains of electric guitars, there are countless opportunities to partake in all that Billings has to offer when it comes to live music.

This summer will usher in the 26th season of St. John’s Summer Concert Series. St. John’s is proud to yet again provide quality entertainment to the Billings community at a very reasonable cost - absolutely FREE! This beloved summer tradition unites music lovers of all ages, spanning generations. It’s not uncommon to watch older adults dancing from their balconies right alongside youngsters who scramble to the front of the crowd to show off their moves. As the event has expanded, it has grown to offer concerts not only at the West End location, but in Laurel and the Heights. The beat goes on this summer on June 20, 27, July 11, 18, and 25th, and August 1st with featured acts including tribute bands paying homage to greats like the Beatles (British Export), The Beach Boys (Surf’s Up), Elton John (MoJo), and Fleetwood Mac (Remembering Fleetwood Mac). Opening acts begin at 6:00 p.m., with featured artists taking the stage at 7:00 p.m. Bring a picnic dinner, or take advantage of several options for food trucks on site.

Summer nights really come “alive” at Alive After 5, Downtown’s premier music destination for the summer. Held on Thursday evenings in June and July, the concert series brings over 10,000 people Downtown each season. Started over 20 years ago by a group of restaurant and property owners, the series has grown from five concerts per summer to upwards of 14 different events. This summer, concerts will be held on June 6, 13, 20, and 27 and on July 11, 18, and 25. Local and regional favorites like Arterial Drive, Counting Coup, El Wencho, and the high-energy party band, The Repeat Offenders will all be featured this summer. Although family-friendly, the nearby bars and restaurants invite adults to let their hair down after a long work week. Admission is always free to the public, but a wristband for adult beverages can be purchased by anyone 21 and older for $3. If you want to really impress your date or just have a cool place to sightsee in the shade, the VIP option includes tables, chairs, ice-cold water, and a great view of the stage for a mere $10 per person.

If a blanket, a bottle of wine (or a snow cone), and the strains of the violin under a starry sky are more your forte, you won’t want to miss this year’s Symphony in the Park. Held on June 23 at 7:00 p.m. at Pioneer Park, this event is Billings Symphony’s gift to the public. The grassy hillside on the park's north end transforms into a concert hall, as music lovers of all ages delight in the sounds of the strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The fun starts late in the afternoon at 4:00 when kids can get their hands on the “Instrument Petting Zoo,” a chance for aspiring musicians to touch and feel the symphony instruments they will hear later in the evening. 6:45 p.m. starts the “Kids Conducting Contest,” where young maestros conduct a march by John Philip Sousa. The contest's winner leads the entire Symphony in a rousing rendition of “Invincible Eagle” by the same composer. The event always features popular songs in addition to a classical repertoire, and this year will be no exception. Guest soloists will present “This Wish” from the movie Wish and “I’m A Believer” from Shrek.

There is no better time to sprawl on a blanket outdoors, surrounded by family and friends, and listen to music under a wide open sky than summertime in Montana. We feel pulled to make the most of the days when the weather cooperates just enough for us to soak in some rays and then be cooled by a soft summer breeze. From the electrifying performances to the shared moments of joy and connection, these gatherings remind us of the power of music to connect and inspire. Lingering like the final chords to a favorite song, the memories made during a summer concert series stay with us long after the summer has gone.

Originally printed in the June 2024 issue of Simply Local Magazine

Read this article in our digital copy of Simply Local here!

related articles: 

Get local updates, events and special offers!

Local Events