Concerts in Chicago in September

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.

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Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran Photograph: Dan Curwin

Billie Joe Armstrong sang, "Wake me up when September ends." Well, this year we beg to differ. Keep exploring the city before it gets cold and take some time to listen to some great tunes. Don't say that the summer music festival is over just yet either, as Riot Fest, the Hideout Block Party and Pygmalion return to showcase some great acts. In addition, expect Anglophiles and fangirls to pull out their Union Jacks and scream, as Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith come to the city and croon to the masses. Explore our picks of the top September gigs.


RECOMMENDED: Our complete calendar for concerts in Chicago in 2014


X

  • Price band: 3/4

The origional four members of the L.A punk band X will be coming together at the city Winery for four nights, as they do a rendition of one of their classic albums for each night. John Doe and the group will start with Los Angeles on September 2, Wild Gift on the 3rd, followed by Under the Big Black Sun. Finally, X will play their final album More Fun in the New World on Friday September 5th.

  1. City Winery 1200 W Randolph St, at Racine Ave
  2. Until Fri Sep 5
Buy tickets

How to Dress Well

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

How to Dress Well crafts FX-laden swathes of vocals over grubby digi-beats that range from eerie pieces of sonic texture to R&B that sounds like it's been remixed by Sigur Rós.

  1. Museum of Contemporary Art 220 E Chicago Ave, at Mies van der Rohe Way
  2. Until Thu Sep 4
Buy tickets

Owen Pallett

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

A classically trained violinist since the age of 15, Owen Pallett's music combines classical with indie. Aside from some work with Arcade Fire, Pallett's primary focus has been his solo work, where he went under the moniker Final Fantasy and released critical darlings like, er, He Poos Clouds in 2006. But now having scratched the pen name but kept the bow and fiddle, hot off an Oscar nomination, Pallett is getting the best reviews of his career with the new In Conflict. He should fill the void for those awaiting Sufjan Stevens to do something… well, anything.

  1. Metro Chicago 3730 N Clark St, between Waveland and Racine Aves
  2. Until Thu Sep 4
Buy tickets

Garth Brooks

  • Price band: 3/4

The titan of country settles in at the Allstate Arena for a string of shows. Brooks just launched a digital music service, ghosttunes.com, where you can purchase Wiz Khalifa but not Chris Gaines. Trisha Yearwood steps in for set in the middle of the show to give Garth a breather between belting "The Thunder Rolls" and "Friends in Low Places." You can bet Toby Keith's restaurant down the street is jumping these nights.

  1. Allstate Arena 6920 N Mannheim Rd
  2. Until Sun Sep 14
Buy tickets

The Hideout Block Party & Onion A.V. Fest

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

The annual throwndown on the dead end of Wabansia always brings a solid mix of roots music and '90s indie nostalgia. Neko Case, Mavis Staples and Superchunk topped the bill in 2013. Stay tuned for this year's headliners.

  1. Hideout 1354 W Wabansia Ave, between Willow and Ada Sts
  2. Until Sat Sep 6
Buy tickets

Man or Astroman?

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Man or Astroman? is Auburn's quartet that likes to describe themselves as a space-age surf band. While they were on a temporary hiatus, the band has come back together and made an LP in 2013 titled Defcon 5...4...3...2...1. With some groovy guitar riffs and basslines that really sound like something from space, Man of Astroman? are the science teachers you wish you had.

  1. Empty Bottle 1035 N Western Ave, at Cortez St
  2. Until Sat Sep 6
Buy tickets

Yanni

  • Price band: 3/4

A bona fide New Age superstar, multimillion-selling Greek keyboardist and composer Yanni has become a byword for synthetic world music that's cheesier than a bucket of halloumi.

  1. Sears Centre 5333 Prairie Stone Pkwy
  2. Until Sat Sep 6
Buy tickets

Carrie Underwood

  • Price band: 3/4

Since winning the fourth season of American Idol in 2005, this 29-year-old Oklahoma native has become one of the biggest names in country music, thanks largely to rowdy tough-chick anthems such as “Before He Cheats." Expect to hear plenty from Underwood's recent No. 1 smash, "Blown Away."

  1. Ravinia Pavilion 418 Sheridan Rd, between Lake Cook and Green Bay Rds
  2. Until Sun Sep 7
Buy tickets

Joss Stone

  • Price band: 2/4

Joss Stone is a leggy British youngster who's blessed with a bold soul holler and amazing connections: In the past she's wrangled backup from Miami soul veterans like Betty Wright and Latimore. Here she preps The Soul Sessions Volume 2, an album of covers that will hopefully return to the delicious looseness we heard on her 2003 debut.

  1. Ravinia Pavilion 418 Sheridan Rd, between Lake Cook and Green Bay Rds
  2. Until Wed Sep 10
Buy tickets

White Lung

Coed Vancouver crew White Lung serves up bratty, hard-driving punk with brilliantly warped guitar work on its excellent new record, Deep Fantasy. Grunge is back.

  1. Subterranean 2011 W North Ave, at Damen and Milwaukee Aves
  2. Until Wed Sep 10
More info

Bear in Heaven

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Bear in Heaven has been quiet since its 2012 platter of airy prog-pop, I Love You, It's Cool. The Genesis of Georgia sounds even more gloriously Phil Collins-y (yes, this is a good thing) on "Time Between," the first single from Time Is Over One Day Old.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Until Thu Sep 11
Buy tickets

Rise Against

Chicago-natives delight hometown fans with a gig to commemorate Riot Fest's 10th anniversary, in addition to marking the band's 15th year. The political punk rockers and heirs to Bad Religion will be playing in wake of their latest release, The Black Market, all breakneck drumming, wide-eye lecturing and tight-fist harmonies. Sums-'em-up track: "The Eco-Terrorist In Me."

  1. Aragon 1106 W Lawrence Ave, at Winthrop Ave
  2. Until Thu Sep 11
Buy tickets

World Music Festival 2014: Vieux Farka Touré + Bombino

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Vieux Farka Touré is the son of late Malian bluesman Ali Farka Touré, but in no way does he linger in his famous father's shadow. Also featured on September 11 is Tuareg guitarist Bombino, who was brought over to Nashville by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys to record his first album, Nomad, a funky fusion of traditional Berber sounds with American rock music. 

  1. Millennium Park 55 N Michigan Ave, at Washington St
  2. Until Thu Sep 11
More info

Metronomy

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

It's been a long time since Metronomy was just Joe Mount's bedroom pop project in sleepy Devon, England. Three albums and a Michel Gondry video later, and with a shiny, rounded live line-up—with drummer Anna Prior laying down the beats at the back —Metronomy perform songs from their fantastic new album Love Letters at a big gig. After the proggy British yacht-rock of the last record, the new one sees a new whimsical ELO direction. These peerless wonky-pop exponents should delve headlong into their excellent back catalogue too.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Until Fri Sep 12
Buy tickets

Riot Fest

  • Price band: 2/4

In a sprawling park on the city's West Side, replete with circus attractions, Riot Fest prides itself on being punk. Its bookings are as diverse as "punk" is difficult to define. 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. The bill typically reads like the CDs that were piled on the floor of your used Buick in high school. Does this mean you have to learn how to skate all over again? Couldn't hurt. On second thought, it totally could.

  1. Humboldt Park 1400 N Sacramento Ave, at North Ave
  2. Until Sun Sep 14
More info

World Music Festival 2014: La Bottine Souriante + Pablo Menendez & Mezcla

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Québécois folk band La Bottine Souriante brings fiddles, squeezeboxes and stomping feet to Pritzker Pavilion on September 12 as part of World Music Festival 2014. Opening is Cuba's Pablo Menendez & Mezcla, who fuse Latin jazz with shreddy classic rock, a la a certain Santana.

  1. Millennium Park 55 N Michigan Ave, at Washington St
  2. Until Fri Sep 12
More info

Zac Brown Band

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Georgian country-rock superstar and Duck Dynasty lookalike Zac Brown brings his amiable good ol' boy boogie to the Friendly Confines. He's the rare act that can collaborate with Dave Grohl, String Cheese Incident, Jimmy Buffett, Alan Jackson and Trombone Shorty and appeal to each individual fanbase. That probably explains how, despite you asking, "THEM?", ZBB is headlining a baseball stadium in the Deep North.

  1. Wrigley Field 1060 W Addison St, at Clark St
  2. Until Sat Sep 13
Buy tickets

Shabazz Palaces

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Seattle experimental hip hop group Shabazz Palaces is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire and rapper Ishmael Butler, formerly of the ’90s jazz-rap group Digable Planets. In Planets, Butler—then known as Butterfly—kicked relentlessly positive free-associative verses. But under his Palaceer Lazaro guise, he's not afraid to get real mystical, real quick. Shabazz’s debut release, the spacey and ultra-sonic Black Up, was one of 2011’s most engrossing albums; the new sophomore LP Lese Majesty raises the sci-fi stakes.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Until Sat Sep 13
Buy tickets

World Music Festival 2014: Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 + Aurelio Martinez

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Seun Kuti had large shoes to fill, possibly the largest in all of African music, but the son of Fela has deftly upheld his father's legacy, fronting the sprawling grove legend Egypt 80. The funk traditionalist has slightly, tastefully updated Afrobeat by enlisting tape heads like Brian Eno to produce, though his latest, A Long Way to the Beginning, sticks to impeccable polyrhythms. Opening is Honduras' soulful Aurelio Martinez. If you have to see just one World Music Fest gig, this is it.

  1. Millennium Park 55 N Michigan Ave, at Washington St
  2. Until Sat Sep 13
More info

Lee Fields & The Expressions

Veteran crooner Lee Fields, now in his sixties, tours last year's Faithful Man, on which he finally hits his stride as the result of four decades spent playing in countless styles. Paradoxically, contemporary soundmen helped him successfully re-create the sound he was raised on, fulfilling the potential grandeur promised by the previous album. Clearly, Fields has found the high ground between classic soul and modern interpretation.

  1. Empty Bottle 1035 N Western Ave, at Cortez St
  2. Until Tue Sep 16
Buy tickets

Ed Sheeran

  • Price band: 3/4

The Jason Mraz of adolescent England continues his climb up Mt. Fame. After opening for Taylor Swift, he now headlines his own arena tour with his overearnest puppy dog rap-folk. Can a ginger-scented body spray be far behind? The 23-year-old is flying high off Pharrell-produced single "Sing," which explores the godforsaken scorched earth between LFO's "Summer Girls" and the Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Runnin'." Wait, tickets are how much?

  1. Allstate Arena 6920 N Mannheim Rd
  2. Until Tue Sep 16
Buy tickets

Black Prairie

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

A side project of Decemberists Chris Funk and Nate Query, sadly not dubbed Funky Query, Black Prairie has evolved their songwriting and cohesivness and have now transformed into a fully fleshed-out bluegrass act. Their latest album, Fortune, made a soft left turn from bluegrass hoe-down, more like a great folk album. Fans of the main act will want to investigate.

  1. Schubas 3159 N Southport Ave, at Belmont Ave
  2. Until Wed Sep 17
Buy tickets

Black Lips

  • Price band: 1/4

The Black Lips are one of Atlanta's wildest bands that provide punk-rock with a Southern flavor and bluesy undertone. The four Southern rockers are now touring off of their new album, Underneath the Rainbow. Also, this show will feature King Khan & BBQ Show, so you can expect the synergy between these two groups to make this a truly rowdy concert, and we mean that in the best of ways.

  1. Logan Square Auditorium 2539 N Kedzie Blvd, at Albany Ave
  2. Until Fri Sep 19
Buy tickets

Bonobo

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

It has been 14 years since his first album, Animal Magic, came out, and Simon Greene has been going strong ever since, seamlessly blending funk, trip-hop and jazz. With beloved albums such as Black Sands and Dial M for Monkey, Greene, a.k.a Bonobo, dove deeper into the chillaxed spa vibe on his plush latest, The North Borders.

  1. Metro Chicago 3730 N Clark St, between Waveland and Racine Aves
  2. Until Fri Sep 19
Buy tickets

Nellie McKay

  • Critics choice

Fearless singer-songwriter Nellie McKay sets out to flabber your gast with a witty, unwieldy and beguiling blend of musical styles, ranging from Irving Berlin to Jimi Hendrix.

  1. SPACE 3433–37 W Peterson Ave, at Bernard St
  2. Until Fri Sep 19
Buy tickets

Nick Waterhouse

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

R&B disciple Nick Waterhouse makes a studied but lively revival of the kind of music the Velvet Fog specialized in during his younger days, jazzy but rockin'. Back then, it was considered pretty cool, and to Waterhouse, it still is. You could easily be mistaken into thinking the name of his sophomore effort, Holly is for Buddy. He leads a jumping live band that smokes, sharpened by dozens and dozens of regular club gigs in L.A. and Vegas. They do, in fact, still make 'em like they used to.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Until Fri Sep 19
Buy tickets

Marc Anthony

  • Price band: 3/4

Marc Anthony may have just lost a Grammy to the much, much, much-lesser-known Pacific Mambo Orchestra, but he knows just how powerful his vibrato-intense, knees-to-the-floor croon is, and he's bringing it out for an arena appearance behind last year's 3.0—his first salsa album in nearly a decade.

  1. Allstate Arena 6920 N Mannheim Rd
  2. Until Sat Sep 20
Buy tickets

Com Truise

  • Price band: 1/4

Seth Haley, despite adopting the dubious musical moniker Com Truise, makes smart, vaguely '80s-tinged electronic music that he describes as "mid-fi synth-wave, slow-motion funk." His 2013 album Wave 1 continues this synth-wave theme, which is great if you want to dance your ass off or simply chill out. It plays like VHS tapes melting in the heat of the sun.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Until Sat Sep 20
Buy tickets

Aahh! Fest

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Lupe Fiasco, Del La Soul, Jay Electronica, Rhymefest, Dave Chappelle and more hit the Near West Side for Common's impressive hip-hop fest.

  1. Union Park 1501 W Randolph St, between Ogden Ave and Justine St
  2. Sun Sep 21
Buy tickets

Bryan Ferry

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

The former Roxy Music main man turned king of MOR pop balladry (and professional tux wearer) brings his distinctive croon to bear on a clutch of his classics. In his current set list, Roxy tracks including 'Do the Strand' and 'Editions of You' rub shoulders with covers of standards by Bob Dylan, and Jimmy Reed, as well as instrumental retro-jazz material from his his new album The Jazz Age. Most recently, he was heard covering Robert Palmer on the new Todd Terje album, which hit all our sweet spots.

  1. Chicago Theatre 175 N State St, between Randolph and Lake Sts
  2. Until Sun Sep 21
Buy tickets

Sam Smith

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

When Disclosure and Sam Smith collaborated to make the single "Latch," the London singer grabbed the attention of the music community. Since then Smith has released various singles and a brand new LP on Capitol Records In the Lonely Hour. Various singles off that album such as "Lay Me Down" and "Money on My Mind" have made it on the U.K charts, but we're hoping he can make a name for himself here in America. With a voice like his, however, we don't think he'll need much luck doing that.

  1. Riviera Theatre 4746 N Racine Ave, at Broadway
  2. Mon Sep 22
Buy tickets

Ty Segall

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Holy cow, Ty Segall went, like, months without making a new record. The new king of garage rock is making up for the slack with a double album, Manipulator.

  1. Thalia Hall 1807 S Allport St, at 18th St
  2. Tue Sep 23
Buy tickets

Simian Mobile Disco

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Colourful techno duo Simian Mobile Disco are always a safe bet for a storming live show. As well as rolling out their immense and widely loved back catalogue, broadly covering glitchy electro and pumping dancefloor attacks that never get old, SMD are known for unleashing acid techno warfare in a live setting, which always goes down a treat. They serve up a stripped down new project, Whorl, where the two utilize a single instrument each, an analog synthesizer and a sequencer.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Tue Sep 23
Buy tickets

Stromae

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

If you've never heard of Stromae, that's likely going to change really 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 his first big gig in Chicago.

  1. Metro Chicago 3730 N Clark St, between Waveland and Racine Aves
  2. Wed Sep 24
Buy tickets

King Crimson

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

Are you ready for more guitar Frippery? The reunion is a bit surprising, considering a couple years ago Robert Fripp said in an interview, "My life as a professional musician is a joyless exercise in futility." So, enjoy.

  1. Vic Theatre 3145 N Sheffield Ave, at Belmont Ave
  2. Thu Sep 25 - Sat Sep 27
Buy tickets

The Pygmalion Festival

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

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, in its tenth year, this little music (and literature) festival has put together a stellar lineup that is like a medium-size Pitchfork. Chvrches, Panda Bear, Real Estate, Tycho, Sun Kil Moon, Ex Hex, Wooden Shjips and more hit the Illini hub. The first two days are on campus at the Krannert Center, while Saturday and Sunday shows go down downtown at the Highdive. Check the website for more details.

  1. The Highdive 51 East Main Street, 61820
  2. Thu Sep 25 - Sun Sep 28
Buy tickets

Slow Club

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor formed the duo of Slow Club in 2006 and have made two EPs and three studio albums since. While many of their songs have a continuous feel-good theme, the two have been pushing morphed their sound between pop, rock and folk. The Brits will be coming to Chicago with their latest album Complete Surrender, which shifts from piano melancholy to indie dance glee.

  1. Schubas 3159 N Southport Ave, at Belmont Ave
  2. Thu Sep 25
Buy tickets

Cold Waves Festival

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

Get your black leather ready and stay out of the sun. Front 242 and Fear Factory headline the third edition of this celebration of synthpunk, aggrotech and all things industrial. Don't worry, there are Germans here, of course—Die Krupps. Wax Trax and Ministry fans should slurp up this bill, featuring the rusted metal sounds of Chris Connelly’s Cocksure, Youth Code, Acumen Nation, Author & Punisher, Caustic, ∆Aimon, Cyanotic and more.

  1. Metro Chicago 3730 N Clark St, between Waveland and Racine Aves
  2. Fri Sep 26 - Sat Sep 27
Buy tickets

The Raveonettes

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The Danish indie duo consisting of Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner have been performing and recording their unique style of harmonic noise rock for more than 12 years. The two continue to plug the delightful and dark 2012 album Observator, and have a new one on the way.

  1. Double Door 1572 N Milwaukee Ave, at Damen Ave
  2. Fri Sep 26
Buy tickets

The Black Keys + Cage the Elephant

  • Price band: 3/4
  • Critics choice

After the sleek, commercial sound of El Camino, the Black Keys return to a more soulful groove on the new Turn Blue. Produced again by Danger Mouse of Broken Bells, the former Ohioans float through some nifty psych on the record. Two word review: Brothers Bells. It's mellower, for certain, but lest you think that won't fare well inside a stadium, there is a fresh spritz of Pink Floyd to the affair, and they did just fine in arenas. Kentucky's Cage the Elephant opens with its modern garage-rock melange of Strokes, Pixies and Black Lips influences.

  1. United Center 1901 W Madison St, between Wood St and Damen Ave
  2. Sat Sep 27 - Sun Sep 28
Buy tickets

Benjamin Booker

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

A 22-year-old with an opening slot on Jack White's tour under his belt, Booker melds blues-rock formalism with joyous garage rock rambunctiousness. He is the rare act that can dazzle fans of both Clapton and Ty Segall.

  1. Schubas 3159 N Southport Ave, at Belmont Ave
  2. Sat Sep 27
Buy tickets

Why?

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Why? stands out like a sore thumb on its label Anticon, as one of the only indie-rock bands surrounded by hip-hop label-mates. Frontman Yoni Wolf spits his lyrics in a fashion very similiar to rap, though, so perhaps their partnership with Anticon is one that is more well-fitting than we imagine. Nevertheless, the composition of the trio's music and lyrics are dark and personal, which sets the Oakland trio apart from the normal hipster indie-folk band.

  1. Lincoln Hall 2424 N Lincoln Ave, between Fullerton Ave and Montana St
  2. Sat Sep 27
Buy tickets

Yacht + White Fang

  • Price band: 1/4

Three years after the release of Shangri-La, their excellent avant-pop album (and their second for the fine folks at DFA), Yacht's Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans hit the Chicago's stage for a live set. Mainstays of Portland's (or as they call it, 'Potland') DIY punk scene, White Fang sticks to its roots with its latest album, Steady Truckin' for Summer. Never ones to take themselves too seriously—they name Marijuana as their manager and claim that they're stupider than they look—this gig guarantees a boisterously fun time.

  1. Concord Music Hall 2047 N Milwaukee Ave
  2. Sat Sep 27
Buy tickets

Lily Allen

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The headline-grabbing pop provocateuse tours her new album Sheezus (wince), her first record in half a decade. After starting her career with breezy ska-pop and then moving on to more electronic territory on her last record, this time Allen apparently recorded by "throwing shit on the wall and seeing if anything sticks." Tonight's your chance to find out exactly what that wall's looking like.

  1. Riviera Theatre 4746 N Racine Ave, at Broadway
  2. Tue Sep 30
Buy tickets


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