There’s plenty of good music to be had in Wellesley, from the Wellesley Symphony to the Choral Society to local school performances to residents’ bands, like Grounds for Divorce, which returns to Morse Tavern in Natick on Oct. 26. But if you’re looking to bust out of town, here’s a look at upcoming shows I can either vouch for or am intrigued by.
Consider that my range of musical interest spans mainly from old fart punk and indie rock to new fart punk and indie rock, with a bit of hip hop and electronic music tossed in. So if you’re more of a classical, R&B, country or classic rock fan, my recommendations won’t do you much good, unless you’re looking to branch out.
Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne returns to Boston with his pre-Broadway American Utopia tour at Emerson Colonial Theatre from Sept. 11-18. This is an entertaining show that features new and old Byrne songs, propelled by great percussion, and lots of freeform barefoot dancing. Mrs. Swellesley and I caught on of the American Utopia shows last summer at the Seaport pavilion, and were happy with the mix of Talking Head tunes and newer songs, including a dramatic cover of Janelle Monae’s Hell You Talmbout as a finale. The smaller venue this time around should only enhance the show.
Speaking of Emerson, the WERS radio station celebrates its 7oth birthday with a unique twinbill at the Paramount Center in Boston’s Theater District on Nov. 2 featuring the Adia Victoria and Nick Lowe. Rock veteran Lowe, the guy who wrote “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding,” is the headliner. But don’t overlook Victoria. She was the first act I saw this past spring at Boston Calling, and it wasn’t by accident. Her spooky and devilish tunes grabbed me from first listen, so I sought out her set. The singer and guitarist’s music should stand out even more in an indoor venue.
Next up for me will be Jack White and Brendan Benson’s The Raconteurs, which play shows at the House of Blues on Sept. 9-10. The band earlier this year released its first album in more than 10 years. Be warned that if you attend one of these shows you’ll be forced to lock your cellphone in a pouch so that you forced to live in the moment…I’ve been fortunate to see White perform with numerous bands and at interesting venues (the all-female Peacocks at Agganis, the Blunderbuss album at Fenway Park from the Bullpen, headlining at Boston Calling). Alas, never saw the White Stripes live.
While the Red Sox are on the verge of ending their season, the House of Blues across the street from Fenway is heating up. HoB has a slew of great shows coming up, including Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard‘s solo show on Sept. 25 (saw her with the Shakes at HoB before she was a thing, and she’s become an even stronger stage presence since then), Bishop Briggs on Oct. 16 (I hear she moves around like a non-stop boxer on stage), and local rapper Cousin Stizz on Oct. 27. Foundation Room membership will give you a private place to hang before and after shows, plus features other ticketing benefits.
The Sinclair in Cambridge, a fantastic local music venue attached to the fun Kitchen restaurant and bar, also has a strong upcoming line-up. The rowdy Hold Steady, which has a new album, performs on Sept. 12-15 (a couple of the shows are sold out). My next stop there will be on Sept. 20 to see The Feelies, an old-school post-punk band with jangly guitars that my neighbor swears puts on a great rock ‘n roll show. Built to Spill plays 3 shows Sept. 25-27, underrated indie band The Generationals appear Sept. 24 (saw them at the Firefly Festival in Dover, Del., a few years back), Northeastern student Sidney Gish (a new-ish Liz Phair with modern lyrics) performs on Sept. 29. Billy Bragg, a true troubadour, settles in Oct. 3-5 (Saw him at Berkeley a number of years ago, when he battled through a cold to put on a great show. He doesn’t have classic pipes anyway, but is an excellent songwriter.). He’s followed by London’s The Comet is Coming on Oct. 6 (love their sax-fueled “Summon the Fire”). The Fruits Bats on Nov. 6 are chill and feel-good, caught their folk-rock act at Newport Folk Festival a few yeas back.
If you’re into bigger venues, the Boston Garden has a handful of big shows. I was surprised to see Bon Iver headlining a show there on Oct. 15, he seems like a smaller venue guy. Last time I saw Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, his dulcet tones were leading side project Big Red Machine along with The National’s Aaron Dessner at Boston Calling.
Dessner will be in Boston with The National on Oct. 24 at Agganis Arena. I’ve heard The National maligned as Dad Rock, but all the coolest people I know, including me, love them. The band has plenty of low-key songs, especially on its I Am Easy to Find album released earlier this year. But when you hear them play Abel and Mr. November live, you won’t be snoozing. On Sept. 17, rapper Lizzo will light up Agganis. She’s super fun in concert, and her star is on the rise.
Smaller venues more your style? Getting to Brighton Music Hall and Great Scott in Allston (well, finding parking) from Wellesley is a challenge. Shows that could be worth the effort: At Brighton Music Hall, you can see Guerilla Toss on Sept. 20, and the Stiff Little Fingers (a ’70s punk band out of Northern Ireland that still rocks) on Oct. 20. At Great Scott, I recommend Marika Hackman on Oct. 18 (haven’t seen her live, but her new album has lots of good songs), and have been meaning to check out Weakened Friends (Oct. 11) based on some of their catchy songs.
Also coming up:
*A new venue called Big Night Live opens this fall on Causeway Street near the Garden. My personal favorites The Pixies (Dec. 11) will be among the first batch of performers hitting this music hall, which will accommodate more than 1,500 guests. The complementary Guy Fieri Tequila Cocina will serve up Mexican and Latin street food.
*Bummed that Stereolab, not seen in these parts in years, sold out its Sept. 29 show at Royale almost instantly.
*The Paradise Club in Boston has an eclectic line-up this fall, from singer-songwriter Jade Bird (Sept. 25) to masked, blood-spewing GWAR (Oct. 6) to The Office’s Creed Bratton (Nov. 5).
*Big Thief (an acquired taste, unique voice from singer Adrianne Lenker) at the Wilbur downtown.
*TCAN in Natick features the Cowboy Junkies on Oct. 11, plus a slate of other musicians throughout the fall.
*I’d be remiss not mentioning that my namesake, Bobby Brown, plays Lynn Auditorium on Sept. 27. I used to get calls from his fans back in the day, as if his number would have been listed.
*City Winery in Boston. Have somehow not been to this venue near North Station yet, though I hear it’s a nice place (if you’re a regular, you can pay about $100 to get a VinoFile membership that gives you assorted benefits. And I won’t be there when ’80s pop star Tiffany headlines on Nov. 4. But maybe you will be…
The Who are playing at Fenway.