Version Reviewed: 1.2
iPhone Integration [rating:5/5]
User Interface [rating:4/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:5/5]
Concerts can be an amazing experience. There's truly nothing like a live performance by an electrifying band. The experience can give new appreciation for the artist and their music. Conversely, a bad concert can turn love into disdain without any hope of recovery. Regardless, seeing artists live is a vital part of our culture.
Finding a concert, on the other hand, can be a pain. Especially if you live in an area of urban sprawl mixed with suburban wastelands peppered with the occasional oasis of college town venues just outside of its perimeter. The combination of limited shows and resources to find them can discourage an avid concert goer to the point of giving up. Then there's the other side of things, what if you live somewhere like New York, London or Nashville, where bands play every night? How do you turn down the noise enough to avoid missing those crucial back-alley gigs? iConcertCal seems like a great answer for hometown concert information gathering and an amazing resource for the roadtrip enthusiast.
iTunes and Your Artists
For a long while iConcertCal was an iTunes Visualizer plug-in that gathered your music library information (through the iTunes xml file). It then contacted a few concert databases (like Jambase) and cd release databases to create a custom concert and CD release calendar. I have used it for about two years but hadn't really done much with the info, because I could never remember to activate the visualizer. Lately, however, a lot's been going on. iConcertCal now integrates with iCal on the Mac (allowing users to keep closer track of things without necessarily having to go to iTunes) and, of course, there's an iPhone app.
iConcertCal for the iPhone features a straight-forward user interface that sorts concert information into shows by your favorite artists, shows at a particular venue that can be sorted by distance/alphabetically, and a list of every show in your area. If you just want to see a show tonight, iConcertCal will show you every gig on today's date and sort those by venues as well. It does all this by searching the artists you have on your iPhone and by a simple syncing process to the desktop plug-in.
For the Music Lover on the Go
So if you were on a daytrip to Philadelphia and walking around downtown, you could easily find the closest gigs for that night. Once you've found them, it's hard to know which artist is worth the cover charge. iConcertCal solves this problem by providing a link to the artist on the iTunes store. So you've found a gig in Philly and want to tell your friends there where to meet you. You can email them all the concert info right from the app. Need tickets? Also not a problem, simply click a button and Ticketmaster (or your ticket retailer) opens in mobile Safari so you can make your purchase. Then you can click a link and it opens Maps to give you directions to the venue.
Other little touches round off this application nicely and most are an extension of the desktop iConcertCal. For example, let's say you're on the go with friends want to check gigs but you'd rather they didn't see the Streisand and Manillow suggestions that will inevitably pop-up. Removing artists from your searches is a simple swipe and delete from the settings page. Little things like this illustrate precisely what you're getting, a brand new iPhone application that appropriates a significant amount of maturity from its desktop brother.
There are certain apps that make you say, "hmmm... I wish they'd add this..." and others that inspire you to say, "Wow... that's amazing. You know what? They should add this." iConcertCal is one of the latter. It does a great job of lining up concerts and giving you all the info you need to find them. It does all this without the spam and questionable practices that some concert calendars employ.
There's very little to fault in this application. My only wish is that it extended the new cd releases feature from the desktop, as I'm always on the go and can't ever remember what's been released or what's about to be released for purchase. I use my movie application, Now Showing, in precisely this way to find showtimes, add things to Netflix and to buy movies on release.
My recommendation is for everyone that uses iTunes to download the Desktop application and look hard at what you get. One road trip justifies the purchase, one missed gig that was instead spent sitting at home justifies the purchase. There's no risk involved. If you like what you get from the desktop app, you'll love having the iPhone version of iConcertCal around. Looking at the iPhone app really drove home to me just how powerful the desktop version has always been. They're both quickly becoming favorites.