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Concerts in Chicago in September 2015

Summer may be over, but the start of the fall doesn't pull any punches on live shows. See who's coming to town with our list of upcoming concerts in Chicago.

Photograph: courtesy of the artist
AC/DC

Billie Joe Armstrong sang, "Wake me up when September ends." Thanks, but we'd rather be lucid this month. Soak up the city before it gets cold and take time to listen to some great bands. The summer music festival season is not over yet, as Riot Fest and others return to showcase some great acts. Dinosaur rock act AC/DC hits Wrigley Field, Lenny Kravitz takes his mesh shirt to Ravinia and Madonna goes through (another) reinvention at the United Center. Explore our picks of the top September gigs.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete calendar for concerts in Chicago

Concerts in Chicago in September 2015

Chelsea Wolfe

Of-the-moment California singer Chelsea Wolfe offers an improbable mix of scrappy outsider folk and black-metal atmosphere that works despite long odds. Check out her alluringly creepy Pain is Beauty for proof, and expect to hear from her brand-new album, Abyss, tonight.

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Thalia Hall Tuesday September 1 2015

Modest Mouse

For a group that started out playing tiny clubs, bingo halls and dive bars, Modest Mouse fills larger spaces remarkably well, offering up a slightly frenetic live show anchored by Isaac Brock’s distinctive yelp-and-shout singing. Here, the Pacific Northwest indie-rock heavies gig behind their latest LP (and first in eight years), Strangers to Ourselves.

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Concord Music Hall Thursday September 3 2015

Lenny Kravitz

You know what they say about Lenny Kravitz's career: it ain't over ’til it's over. To the haters, he's a ’90s relic. But there are also plenty of people who look on ol' Len as the living embodiment of freaked-out and loved-up sex 'n' roll, hence this most likely well-populated show more than two decades on from "Are You Gonna Go My Way?"

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Ravinia Pavilion Thursday September 3 2015

Thee Oh Sees

Critics' pick

Bay Area punk artist John Dwyer—infamous for his take-no-prisoners work in Coachwhips and countless other outfits—has channeled his raw aesthetics into something anyone could love in the badass garage-pop outfit Thee Oh Sees. Expect the group to dig in some prog-y jams from Mutilator Defeated At Last during its two-night stand at Empty Bottle. The Blind Shakes support.

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Empty Bottle Thursday September 3 2015 - Friday September 4 2015

Chicago Jazz Festival

In its 37th year, Jazz Fest returns to Millennium Park (and the Cultural Center) with a solid lineup of fusion, traditional bop and cosmic shizz. Confirmed performers include Muhal Richard Abrams, José James, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Henry Butler.

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Millennium Park Thursday September 3 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015 Free

Toby Keith

Rosemont restauranteur and country superstar Toby Keith takes his truck on the road for the Good Times & Pick Up Lines Tour Presented by Ford F-Series. He's promoting songs from his 18th (!) album, 35 MPH Town. Great title. Who says country isn't poetry?

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First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre Friday September 4 2015

North Coast Music Festival

Critics' pick

The other big festival in Union Park (the one that doesn't rhyme with Itchpork) leans heavy on EDM, jam and rap. In 2015, the Chemical Brothers, D'Angelo, the Roots, Porter Robinson, Chromeo, Portugal. The Man, Tycho, Steve Aoki and so many more are booked to play "summer's last stand."

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Union Park Friday September 4 2015 - Sunday September 6 2015

La Luz

Seattle quartet La Luz plays fuzzy, reverb-soaked surf-rock from its forthcoming record Weirdo Shrine, produced by garage rock luminary Ty Segall and recorded in (appropriately) a converted surf shop.

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Empty Bottle Saturday September 5 2015

Todd Snider

Brilliant Nashville troubadour Todd Snider spins heartbreaking and uproarious yarns from his two-decades-in-the-making songbook, 2012's Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables.

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Thalia Hall Thursday September 10 2015

Ultimate Painting

After a few casual jam sessions, this London duo made up of Jack Cooper and James Hoare founded Ultimate Painting, with a minimal, airy sound and syrupy guitar that echoes 70s post-punk and The Velvet Underground. The band will be playing behind its latest album, Green Lanes, the follow-up to its self-titled LP.

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Empty Bottle Thursday September 10 2015

Of Montreal

Critics' pick

Of Montreal, the inside-out glam id of Kevin Barnes, has been cranking out albums steadily for ages. His latest psychosexual couch session with guitars is Aureate Gloom, Of Montreal's 13th studio album whose prog psych vibe weaves through Barnes's often wry, personal lyrics.

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Lincoln Hall Thursday September 10 2015

Man or Astro-Man?

Critics' pick

It was back in 1992 that the Alabama sci-fi geeks Man or Astro Man? came into being, and they have come out of a hiatus to travel through the fourth dimension with style. With their most recent album from 2013, Defcon 5...4...3...2...1, produced a decade after their last, the surf-punks showcase a new wave of space jams. These guys are the science professors you wish you had.

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Empty Bottle Friday September 11 2015

Mikal Cronin

Cronin hits to road to tour his second album of lo-fi power-pop for Merge Records, MCIII. While he's not great at thinking up album titles, the neo–Matthew Sweet dishes out fuzzy hooks.

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Thalia Hall Sunday September 13 2015

AC/DC

Critics' pick

Their new one, Rock or Bust, sounds like all the rest, with stiff blues riffs and blue balls. AC/DC albums are as good as their juvenile puns, and "Emission Control" is one of the more clever ones.

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Wrigley Field Tuesday September 15 2015

Riot Fest

Critics' pick

There's mall-punk, hardcore, emo, goth, metal, thrash, new-wave, rap, gray-haired indie and sometimes Blondie. The Replacements and Elvis Costello have headlined in the past.

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Humboldt Park Friday September 11 2015 - Sunday September 13 2015

Ed Sheeran

The Jason Mraz of adolescent England continues his climb up Mt. Fame.

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First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre Wednesday September 16 2015

Best Coast

Critics' pick

LA-based surf-pop trio Best Coast deliver a live set full of groovy, preloved licks and lo-fi, sweetly melodic fuzz. Fiery frontwoman Bethany Cosentino’s best songs are full of yearning and heartache that her sweet-with-an-edge voice pulls off perfectly, and sounds just as great live as recorded. The band's latest, California Nights, was released this year, showcasing a more grown up sound from Cosentino, still playful, yet perhaps more consicously moody.

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Metro Chicago Friday September 18 2015

Low

Critics' pick

The iconic indie band from Minnesota will release its newest album Ones and Sixes in September. Low continues to find a melancholy but beautiful tone, incorporating vocals from both Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker about love, war, loss and pain.

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Thalia Hall Saturday September 19 2015

Stromae

Critics' pick

If you've never heard of Stromae, that's likely going to change very soon. The electro-songsmith—real name: Paul Van Haver—specializes in soulful bangers that sound at once sophisticated and bombastic, and he's a huge star in his native Belgium. The mania seems to be spreading for the hip-hop Jacques Brel (to use a crude but apt description), judging by the high demand for this big gig in Chicago.

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Riviera Theatre Monday September 21 2015

Years and Years + Tei Shi

Led by actor-singer Olly Alexander, trendy electronica trio Years and Years are kind of like the new Alt-J. A month ago, the BBC announced them as the winners of its "Sound of 2015" award (a distinction previously earned by Sam Smith and Haim). Tei Shi opens the show with her dreamy R&B.

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Park West Tuesday September 22 2015

Heartless Bastards

Cincinnati's Heartless Bastards paints in broad strokes, with sludgy guitars that seem to forever egg on vocalist Erika Wennerstrom—a woman with an enormous roar. Hear from the group's latest, Restless Ones.

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Metro Chicago Wednesday September 23 2015

The Pygmalion Festival

Critics' pick

Now, normally we are not big on listing events in Champaign. After all, this is Time Out Chicago, and Champaign feels like the deep south. However, this little music (and literature) festival annually puts together a stellar lineup that is like a budget-size Pitchfork. Ride (see below) headlines.

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The Highdive Wednesday September 23 2015 - Sunday September 27 2015

Nick Diamonds

Canadian musician and producer Nick Diamonds is best known for fronting indie rock outfit the Unicorns and, most recently, providing the soundtrack for This American Life spinoff podcast Serial. Featuring collaborations with artists like El-P and Honus Honus of Man Man, Diamonds' latest album, City of Quartz, mixes synth-pop and introspective musings.

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Empty Bottle Thursday September 24 2015

Pure Bathing Culture

Bringing their sparkling dream-pop sounds, Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille of Portlandian duo Pure Bathing Culture used to play with Vetiver. They've kept their old band's folk framework, but sharpened it with chiming guitar and synths to the point where their last album, Moon Tides, started inviting Fleetwood Mac comparisons.

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Schubas Friday September 25 2015

Wavves

Critics' pick

Nathan Williams, the leader of Los Angeles surf-punk trio Wavves, has never strayed far from the Internet’s caustic gaze, though his powerfully punchy, melodic yet grungy surf rock is seldom the cause of controversy. Expect a party.

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Vic Theatre Friday September 25 2015

Ride

Critics' pick

Though rightfully lumped in with the shoegazer movement of the 1990s, Ride are a much different beast than Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. The quartet more overtly mined the psychedelic pop of the '60s, supercharging the distorted guitars.

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Riviera Theatre Saturday September 26 2015

Destroyer

Critics' pick

Destroyer's Kaputt made soft rock saxophone solos an indie rock staple, but Dan Bejar mines a different vein of nostalgic sounds on his latest record, Poison Season. Lead single "Dream Lover" comes out of the gate like a lover letter to the Boss, featuring an E Street Band-worth of wailing horns and stomping refrains. If Bejar slips on a leather jacket, he might pass for Springsteen's long lost brother.

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Thalia Hall Sunday September 27 2015

Madonna

Critics' pick

Rebel Heart, the unlucky 13th album from Madonna, is being heralded as her best in a decade, which isn't saying too much, as that means it merely trumps Hard Candy and MDNA. But "Living for Love" alone is great enough to fall back into Madonna's muscular arms.

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United Center Monday September 28 2015

Patrick Watson

Critics' pick

Canadian folk band Patrick Watson (led by singer Patrick Watson—must get confusing in the studio) headlines in support of its latest release, Love Songs for Robots, a moody, low-key affair.

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Lincoln Hall Monday September 28 2015

Autechre

Formed in 1987, electronic music duo Autechre has consistently released glitchy electronic music via the venerable Warp Records label. The pair's latest, Exai, doesn't deviate from the formula, presenting a collection of stark, rhythmic tracks adorned with haunting synth lines. It's the kind of music that was tailor-made for doing "the robot" to.

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Metro Chicago Tuesday September 29 2015

The Growlers

Critics' pick

The Growlers are one of the growing number of California bands that play modern psychedelic music informed by their locale, but without a whiff of L.A. cheese, favoring instead the West Coast’s hippie-dippy looseness. At its best, the group invokes a smoking late-’60s beach party. Just like summer never ended!

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Metro Chicago Wednesday September 30 2015

Lætitia Sadier + Deradoorian

Critics' pick

Stereolab went on indefinite hiatus in 2009, but lead vocalist Lætitia Sadier has maintained a prolific solo career in the ensuing years. Her latest, Something Shines, is a shimmering collection of understated pop songs, overseen by the French musician's unmistakable voice. Former Dirty Projectors collaborator Angel Deeradoorian opens the show, sharing tunes from her debut solo LP The Expanding Flower Planet.

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Schubas Wednesday September 30 2015

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