The best NYC concerts and music festivals in October
Spend some quality time with Lykke Li, Jessie Ware, Foster the People, First Aid Kit and the Allman Brothers in October
Photograph: Michael J. Chen
New York's favorite house collective is bringing the party to Verboten, Williamsburg's brand-new megaclub. HALA is touring behind new album The Feast of the Broken Heart, which features the group's signature mix of introspective lyrics and floor-pounding beats, both courtesy of producer and frontman Andy Butler. Expect appearances by regular collaborators like singer-songwriter John Grant and DJ Kim Ann Foxman, and, of course, plan on dancing till dawn.
The shadowy Swedish songsmith plays cuts from her soul-baring latest, I Never Learn, which comes off like the modern-day counterpart to an immersive Phil Spector affair. Wallowing has rarely sounded so gorgeous.
Beijing's Modern Sky Festival hosts its first U.S. edition at Central Park's Rumsey Playfield, presenting an eclectic lineup of indie-rock bands while showcasing a handful of intriguing Chinese groups. Headliners for the first night include reunited noise punks the Blood Brothers, art-rock faves Liars and a tribute to Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor starring saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, Sinkane and others. Night two features indie crooner Cat Power, Canadian pop band Stars and songwriter supergroup the Both, comprised of Aimee Mann and Ted Leo.
Delicately melancholic singer-songwriter Perfume Genius (real name Mike Hadreas) plays fractured, dark indie pop, utilizing a piano and minimal instrumentation. The glitzy synth shimmer of “Queen,” the first single off the new album, Too Bright, however, demonstrates an expanding sound palette and slightly sunnier affect.
After canceling performances during the tour for its third LP, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, Cali psych-pop duo Foxygen (which strikes us as a gentler, cuddlier version of MGMT) is back with a fresh single (the jangly "How Can You Really"), a big NYC show and, yes, a jumbo-size new album, …And Star Power.
With his fedora and scruffy antigrooming, Allen Stone may look like a garden-variety Washington Square Park neohippie, but good golly, can this boy sing. Fans of Lewis Taylor, John Mayer and Raphael Saadiq will dig Stone's breathy, smooth voice and mellifluous way with melody; and if you're already a fan, you'll be happy to know that Stone's got a new album out this year—via Capitol, no less—so chances are he'll be airing some fresh tunes. Funkadelic-style soul-rock crew Bad Rabbits and dreamy London singer-songwriter Bruno Major open.
Metal fans across the globe shed a tear three summers ago when it seemed that the juggernaut that is Judas Priest would be embarking on its final tour. But the band recently decided that its 16-album discography was simply too scant, and this fall, it's gallivanting across the nation in support of a much-buzzed new LP, Redeemer of Souls. If you've yet to witness Rob Halford and his legendary hell-bent-for-leather quintet in action, you'd better get moving—and if you think they've lost a move over the years, you've definitely got another thing coming. L.A.’s Steel Panther, which both sends up and revels in its hometown’s illustrious tradition of glam-metal bombast, sets the stage.
Fast-rising Brit quartet Bastille manages to mesh an ’80s postpunk moodiness with perky, dramatic beats—not a million miles from Ed Sheeran singing with the Pet Shop Boys. Its sophomore album has purportedly been delayed due to extensive touring, but we figure that means you can expect a well-oiled show.
Breakout band Iceage turned heads in 2011 with its killer debut, New Brigade, a messy, impassioned and surprisingly hooky art-punk salvo. The Copenhagen quartet plays here in support of its flailing, fuzzed-out 2013 Matador debut, You're Nothing. Also on board is London experimentalist Luke Younger, a.k.a. Helm.
The rumors are true: The Danish heavy-metal kingpin finally returns stateside for a full North American tour. Beyond gratuitous facepaint, this Danish heavy-metal legend's live antics famously include microphones made from femurs, the ritual sacrifice of Satanic dolls, and a real human skull named “Melissa”—so expect some mayhem when he promises the show to be his biggest production yet.
Since 2012’s excellent Until the Quiet Comes, Flying Lotus, reigning emperor of the forward-thinking L.A. electronica scene, has indeed been quiet—under that moniker, at least. In the meantime, the producer born Steven Ellison has issued an entire LP under the alias Captain Murphy, but he has resumed his FlyLo mission with his fifth LP, You’re Dead! Fast-fingered fusion bassist Thundercat—Ellison's labelmate and collaborator—opens with his singular brand of fuzzed-out electronic jazz.
Synth-tickling beatscapist Seth “Com Truise” Haley, prolific creator of chilled-out odes to the ’80s, performs behind his Wave 1 EP.
The unhinged output of Fat White Family suggests twangy garage-rock filtered through the ickiness of Birthday Party–style postpunk. Much like the album cover—which depicts an emaciated pig man flaunting an erection and holding a bloody hammer and sickle—the U.K. band's buzzy 2013 LP, Champagne Holocaust, is the kind of oddity you can't turn away from despite all sensible instincts.
The brand of synth-pop that Nika Danilova makes as Zola Jesus is as monumental as it is ethereal. She’s stated before that she wants to be No. 1 on the Billboard chart, and anyone who catches her cosmic set live might agree that the goal might not be far off.
Alkaline Trio is like a trusted brand at the supermarket, but instead of bold flavor or supercharged cleansing power, the Illinois trio delivers hooky, sad-sack pop-punk, year after year after year. It's stirring stuff, assuming you're susceptible to the wiles of emo—and we definitely are, to a point. Hear for yourself here, as the Illinois crowd-pleasers perform every single one of their eight albums in its entirety over a four-night residency.
We thought it’d never end, but yes, folks, these gigs (some rescheduled from earlier this year) mark the final time the roots-rockin’ jam institution will take the Beacon stage—or any stage, for that matter. Come revel in the glorious twang one last time.
First Aid Kit, the effortlessly affecting folk-pop duo of sweet-voiced Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, hits town in support of its latest LP, Stay Gold (the follow-up to 2012’s lovely The Lion’s Roar).
Foster the People—the catchy L.A. indie-pop crew who brought us 2011’s favorite summer earworm, “Pumped Up Kicks”— returns behind its sophomore effort, Supermodel.
Pop princess Demi Lovato has done it all, from making the hard calls on The X Factor to starring in an unforgettable role on Barney & Friends. Here, the 22-year-old belts out her bombastic hits in the big rooms.
Pallbearer, an epic and eerily uplifting Arkansas doom crew hits town in the wake of its hotly anticipated second LP, Foundations of Burden. Also on board are local black-metal-infused riffsmiths Tombs and New Hampshire's punishing yet plaintive Vattnet Viskar.
Jessie Ware first piqued the interest of tastemakers back in 2011 after contributing her velvety vocals to tracks by post-dubstep bass master SBTRKT and '90s garage throwbacks Disclosure. The London soul-pop diva's beguiling debut, Devotion, retooled the silken soul stylings of Sade with a modern polish, and cemented Ware's star status. While early singles like "Wildest Moments" soared majestically, though, what we've heard of the new Tough Love comes off as surprisingly reserved. We think the stylistic pullback offers some very welcome subtlety.
Dum Dum Girls' songs are built on the bare-bones structures of ’60s girl groups and fleshed out with 21st-century malaise. The four-piece performs behind a recent Sub Pop LP, Too True, a dreamy, poppy gem, albeit one that feels ever so slightly darker and less retro-fied than its predecessors.
The Meat Puppets' Kirkwood brothers released two classic, squally albums in the mid-’80s, including Meat Puppets II, songs from which were later revisited on Nirvana's Unplugged session. Having endured their share of ups and downs, the brothers have been on a roll since reuniting in 2006; they opened for Dave Grohl's Sound City Players in 2013's SXSW and released their 14th album, Rat Farm, last year. Rounding out a perfectly matched bill is cult fave Cass McCombs, a mesmerizing singer-songwriter who excels at both wistful psych-pop and scrappy lo-fi indie rock.
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