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The best NYC concerts in October 2019

We’ve narrowed down our list of the most exciting NYC concerts in October, from Robert Glasper to Kacey Musgraves

By Ro S |
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screaming females
Photograph: Christopher Patrick Ernst

You can't fool yourself anymore: with September out of the picture, summer concerts in NYC are totally over. But even though summer music festival season might be up, the upcoming slew of stellar fall concerts in NYC means there's no reason for any concert-goer to fret. So bundle up in your sweater weather finest and head out to hear everything from big-name pop-stars to local indie-rock bands.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best concerts in NYC

NYC concerts in October

Built to Spill
Photograph: Stephen Gere
Music, Rock and indie

Built to Spill

Built to Spill fans who miss the instant gratification of, say, the blissful call-and-response breakdown of “Carry the Zero” from 1999’s Keep It Like a Secret will rejoice at the band's plans for this New York show: to play all the songs from Keep It Like a Secret. Where the band's 2009 full-length There Is No Enemy lurched through meandering, stoner jamming, 2015's Untethered Moon turned out direct hooky melodies and revived energy. However, none of it quite reaches the peaks of the epic-yet-intimate plaintive indie rock that marked its excellent beginnings. In short, we're excited for this one.

Robert Glasper
Photograph: Janette Beckman
Music, Jazz

Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper has reinvented himself as an R&B auteur in recent years, but here the keyboard ace demonstrates all his many sides during a month-long residency at the Blue Note. Perhaps most notably among the different configurations in which he'll play: a trio with legendary rapper Yasiin Bey (f.k.a. Mos Def) special guesting.

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Ava Luna performs at The Gutter for CMJ Music Marathon
Photograph: Marielle Solan
Music, Rock and indie

Ava Luna + RaFia

If you like your indie soul arty, hectic and really, really fun, try Ava Luna, which matches prismatic harmonies with big, earthy beats. The group plays behind its beguiling latest, Moon 2, which suggests smooth ’70s funk as refracted through Deerhoof and the Magic Band. Opening is multimedia artist Rafia Santana, who distills her playfully askew rap-pop productions through an arresting yellow-and-magenta visual aesthetic—you might have caught a glimpse when the artist's multi-billboard animated piece "Dizzillusions" was on display in Times Square last winter.

Music

Explosions in the Sky

Perhaps the most joyous of the post-rock instrumentalists, Explosions in the Sky write silvery guitar symphonies that steadily tiptoe through a series of elaborate crescendos toward shivering climax. Here the band touches down for its 20th anniversary celebration tour. Expect some songs from EITS’s 2016 release, The Wilderness, (their first since 2011), which features nine tracks that morph from jittery love sonnets to furious dirges and back.

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Brooklyn Bowl
Photograph: Courtesy Adam Kane Macchia
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Blackalicious

The Sacramento hip-hop hip-hop duo has always had a knack for combining inventiveness and originality with a classic sound (see the timeless charms of songs like 1999’s “Alphabet Aerobics”). Two decades later, MC Gift of Gab and producer Chief Xcel touch down for a 20th anniversary tour celebration to demonstrate their acrobatic lyricism, unhurried beats and a positive message never really get old.

Kacey Musgraves
Photograph: Kelly Christine Musgraves
Music, Folk, country and blues

Kacey Musgraves

Young country star Kacey Musgraves mixes a classic, honeyed sound with a subversive lyrical take on the traditionally straitlaced genre. Last year's album, Golden Hour, a cover-to-cover collection of heartrending hits, remains one of the most masterful country releases in recent memory.

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Charli XCX
Photograph: Dan Curwin
Music, Pop

Charli XCX

This bubblegummy singer has come far since the viral popularity of 2012's "I Love It"—seven mixtapes and full-lengths, as well as several collabs with the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen, PC Music and Troye Sivan, to be exact. Refining her signature raucous, aggressive dance-club edge, new anthems "1999" and "Gone" demonstrate a wholly different songwriting maturity. Hence, a new album title to represent the full actualization: Charli. Catch the songs off the brand new eponymous third studio release here at this T5 gig.

Kevin Gates
Photographer: Jimmy Fontaine
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Kevin Gates

Drawly, deep-voiced Louisiana MC Kevin Gates gained fame off his imperturbable flow, authentic Southern swagger, a 2014 XXL Freshmen nod and his vocal advocacy for a**-eating. After a 30-month prison sentence halted his skyward trajectory, he's returned to revive his career with a sophomore collection of braggadacio-filled boasts, I'm Him.

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Sleater-Kinney
Photograph: Brigitte Sire
Music, Rock and indie

Sleater-Kinney

A mysteriously unmarked 7" (containing a heretofore unknown song) in Sleater-Kinney's 2014 career-spanning box set was all it took to get the blogosphere buzzing with reunion rumors, and days later, it was official: The band was back, soon after releasing their first LP in a decade, No Cities to Love. This year the riot grrrl torchbearers and indie-rock luminaries touch down in support of another admirably toothsome, no-fuss comeback release, The Center Cannot Hold.

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