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Fall Arts Preview
Space-age hip-hop, French Canadian fiddle tunes, an aging rapper striving to make amends (through music of course); this is just a sampling of the musical delights Boston has in store for you this fall. So, rather than mourn the waning sunlight, book your tickets for the 10 local concerts that also happen to conform to my personal taste!
Shabazz Palaces | Tuesday, Sep. 5 | The Sinclair, Cambridge
Shabazz Palaces is the latest project from Digable Planets’ Ishmael Butler, one of jazz-rap’s central innovators. On the group’s most recent pair of releases, “Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines” and “Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star,” Butler’s cosmic aspirations are at their most fully realized, Afrofuturistic with a dystopian bent.
Blood Orange | Saturday, Sep. 16 | Paradise Rock Club, Allston
Even if you’ve never listened to Blood Orange, chances are you’re familiar with the work of its originator, Devonté Hynes, who has produced memorable tracks for the likes of Solange and FKA twigs. As the increasingly political Blood Orange, the British-born Hynes offers up a celebration and defense of blackness through celestial, funk-inflected electro-pop.
Boston Fuzzstival | Thursday, Sep. 28 - Saturday, Sept. 30 | Massasoit Elks Lodge, Once Somerville, Somerville ARTfarm
One of the most reliable ways to get acquainted with the local rock scene is to check out Illegally Blind’s annual Fuzzstival, a celebration of all music distorted and odd. Though the lineup always includes some out-of-towners — like Brooklyn’s Ava Luna and Vermont’s MV & EE — its heart lies with the likes of Birthing Hips’ zany, Boston-born experimentations, the outsider punk of Worcester’s The Kominas and the growly propulsions of Boston’s E.
Genticorum | Sunday, Oct. 8 | Club Passim, Cambridge
If you’re not already a fan of the chugging rhythms of traditional Québécois music, then Genticorum will convert you. The Montreal trio shines up old fiddle tunes and sing-alongable choruses with exquisite discernment and a communal spirit.
Johnny Clegg: The Final Journey | Saturday, Oct. 14 | Berklee Performance Center, Boston
Johnny Clegg rose to fame in 1979 as the co-founder of Juluka, apartheid South Africa’s first major multiracial band. His storied career has led him through multiple multicultural journeys, merging Zulu rhythms and new wave synths, Celtic melodies and Afropop hooks, an eye always trained on social progress. In 2015 he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and now embarks on his final tour before a planned retirement. (It's sold out, but there's always a chance someone will be looking to unload tickets they can't use.)
The Sun Parade | Thursday, Oct. 19 | Atwood’s Tavern, Cambridge
Western Massachusetts is chock full of indie bands, each more hip and fuzzed-out than the last. But The Sun Parade stands out, with an exacting musicality and melodies indebted to the Beatles. The band celebrates the release of its sophomore album.
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile | Saturday, Nov. 4 | Orpheum Theatre, Boston
When the Australian indie rocker Courtney Barnett and the American psych-folk singer Kurt Vile first announced their collaboration in June, it made a certain instinctive sense: both are master craftsmen, both uncannily attuned to the profundity of everyday minutiae. Though they have yet to tease any material from their upcoming release, the combination of Barnett’s deadpan, mercilessly clever lyricism and Vile’s more gentle sensibility will no doubt make for a fascinating partnership. (Update: Since this was published Barnett and Vile released "Over Everything," the first single off their upcoming album, "Lotta Sea Lice.")
Pere Ubu at Hasslefest 9 | Saturday, Nov. 11 | Once Somerville
It’s not unusual to detect an experimental whiff in much of today’s garage rock, but Pere Ubu has been putting the “avant-garde” in “underground” since 1975. Today the band is as daring and uncompromising as ever. It tours in support of a recently released box set of vintage tracks and a soon-to-be-released album of new material, “20 Years In A Montana Missile Silo.” The group headlines Day Two of Hasslefest 9, which features a plethora of formidable underground acts, many of them indebted to Pere Ubu’s groundbreaking post-punk.
Jay-Z | Saturday, Nov. 25 | TD Garden, Boston
Beyonce’s magnum opus “Lemonade” revealed, obliquely, a distasteful portrait of her husband Jay-Z, in which the once-preeminent rapper was rendered deceitful and emotionally stunted. With his newest album, “4:44,” Jay-Z offers yet another side of himself: vulnerable, searching, contrite. It should be interesting to see how his most ambitious — yet intimate — project plays out on the stadium stage.
St. Vincent | Thursday, Nov. 30 | House of Blues, Boston
As St. Vincent, musician Annie Clark traces the contours of pop’s future: warped, ambitious and effervescent, with a stage aesthetic that might be best described as “absurdist chic.” Her lean new single, “New York,” was produced with the help of ubiquitous pop architect Jack Antonoff, suggesting she might be gunning for the Top 40. Once she releases her new album and hits the road, we’ll know for sure.
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