MusicMusic Features

15 Touring Bands and Five Local Festivals to See This Fall

British indie-rock icons! Japanese psych warriors! Metal iconoclasts! And much, much more: After the sultry summer lull, fall brings not only football to Athens, but also a rejuvenating jolt of live music, with touring bands once again cruising through our sleepy lil’ burg. The next few months promise to deliver the sonic goods, from charged punk to gritty Southern rock to indie favorites and beyond. Here are 15 concerts we’ve got marked on our calendar.

Chicano Batman
Monday, Sept. 17, 40 Watt Club

Given its melting-pot sound and camera-ready vibe, Chicano Batman’s unofficial designation as “L.A.’s house band” makes more than a little bit of sense. It also reflects the group’s Latinx background, which serves more as a deep well of inspiration than a strict point of focus on last year’s funky Freedom Is Free.

Craig Brown Band
Wednesday, Sept. 19, Nowhere Bar

Craig Brown has scene bona fides for days, having done time in Detroit’s DIY trenches and toured with indie-household names like King Tuff. Recently, Brown assembled a rowdy band of ringers and recorded The Lucky Ones Forget, a boozy country-rock LP that caught the ear of Jack White, who released it last year on his Third Man Records.

War on Women
Thursday, Sept. 20, Caledonia Lounge

A co-ed, multiracial punk band based in the sociopolitical battle ground of Baltimore, War on Women is uniquely positioned to be a musical agent for the anti-Trump left. As leader Shawna Potter prepares to release a book on house-show culture, Making Spaces Safer, her band tours in support of its Capture the Flag LP, a 2018 hardcore standout.

Brandi Carlile
Saturday, Sept. 22, The Classic Center

After canceling her last scheduled local appearance due to health issues, Americana mainstay Brandi Carlile returns to Athens for a gig in the Classic Center’s main theater. The current tour should be heavy on material from her triumphant new full-length, By the Way, I Forgive You, released earlier this year.

Tuesday, Sept. 25, Georgia Theatre

The little ’90s misfit band that could, Primus had an outsized influence on a generation of bar-rockers who thought nothing of throwing a little funk on top of their metal and finishing it off with a dash of prog. As anyone who’s been to a music festival in the past decade can attest, few groups can pull off that sort of genre evisceration like Les Claypool and crew. Catch the OGs at GATH this month.

Drivin’ N Cryin’
Friday, Sept. 28, The Foundry

The hardest-working band in rock and roll continues to ply its trade, with recent reissues of its 1989 breakthrough Mystery Road and self-titled 1997 LP (rebranded as Too Late to Turn Back Now) providing a boost in visibility for the legendary Atlanta group, which is reportedly working on a new album. After 33 years, DNC’s live show is a well-oiled machine.

A Hawk and a Hacksaw
Wednesday, Oct. 3, Orange Twin Conservation Community

Neutral Milk Hotel member Jeremy Barnes’ exploratory Euro-folk would be worth seeing in any venue, but this show is especially enticing given the setting. The pastoral home of Orange Twin Records has hosted only a handful of concerts over the past several years, so bring a blanket and join your buds under the autumn stars.


Photo Credit: Niall Lea

Johnny Marr

Iris DeMent
Thursday, Oct. 4, The Foundry

Eschewing more commercially viable alt-country for gospel-inflected folk, Arkansas-raised, Iowa-based singer-songwriter Iris DeMent has released six albums of traditional music that nonetheless flirts with esoterica. Her 2015 album, The Trackless Woods, featured lyrics by the persecuted Russian poet Anna Akhmatova and was DeMent’s most enigmatic offering yet.

Johnny Marr
Saturday, Oct. 13, 40 Watt Club

Best known for the pioneering playing style he developed with Britpop icons The Smiths, guitarist Johnny Marr has spent the bulk of his career as a solo artist and session guru, fronting his group The Healers and backing up everyone from Modest Mouse to Talking Heads. His latest album, Call the Comet, is a slick, synth-y gem.

Kikagaku Moyo
Friday, Oct. 19, 40 Watt Club

Tokyo five-piece Kikagaku Moyo (“geometric patterns”) follows the psychedelic blueprint put forth by countrymen Acid Mothers Temple but boasts a global pop consciousness, incorporating elements of funk, rock and world beat. The band’s fourth studio album, Masana Temples, comes out Oct. 5, and lead single “Dripping Sun” suggests it will be a mind-expanding ride.

Father John Misty
Monday, Oct. 1 & Tuesday, Oct. 2, Georgia Theatre

Love him or hate him, the guy knows how to commit to a bit. Over the course of three albums, Josh Tillman has come to fully inhabit the fatalistic lounge-act persona he created with 2012’s still outstanding Fear Fun. Misty’s latest missive, God’s Favorite Customer, finds the songman dialing back the snark in favor of a more naked approach.

William Elliott Whitmore
Tuesday, Oct. 23, Caledonia Lounge

Americana poseurs, step aside: William Elliott Whitmore is the truth. A whiskey-voiced guitarist who lives on the Iowa farm established by his great-great-great-grandfather, Whitmore delivers timeworn tales from the heartland with authority. Kilonova, his new album for Bloodshot, is an unexpected collection of covers, including work by Bill Withers, Captain Beefheart and Magnetic Fields.

Friday, Oct. 26, 40 Watt Club

Is it black metal? Shoegaze? Post-hardcore? All, or none, of the above? Aside from horrifying genre purists with a knowingly noncommittal sound, Cali crew Deafheaven specializes in stratospheric sonics. Violent, dazzling tunes like the 11-minute “Honeycomb,” from this year’s Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, prove the group’s compositional moxie.

Mac DeMarco
Saturday, Nov. 24, Georgia Theatre

Anyone else remember Mac DeMarco’s madcap 2012 set at the former Farm 255? The oddball upstart has since become an indie golden boy, and he hits Athens for a solo gig just post-Turkey Day. Minus his band’s desultory noodling and pseudo-dudebro antics, DeMarco’s surprisingly endearing pop songs will get a chance to shine on their own.


Photo Credit: Alex Morgan

Cannibal Corpse

Cannibal Corpse
Tuesday, Dec. 4, Georgia Theatre

A frequent target in the 1990s of hand-wringing pols who decried the group’s violent lyrics and transgressive iconography as an assault on American ideals, Cannibal Corpse remains a death-metal titan, though much of its horror-inspired schtick now feels positively quaint. A 14th full-length, Red Before Black, appeared in 2017, the band’s 30th year.

Five Local Fall Fests

J&J Music Festival
Saturday, Sept. 15, J&J Flea Market

Already a weekend destination for many a bargain-hunting townie, the J&J Flea Market on Commerce Road hosts its first-ever all-day music festival next weekend, featuring a half-dozen jam and rock bands on an outdoor stage. Admission is free.

Athens Jazz Festival
Saturday, Sept. 22, Bishop Park

For its fourth installment following a comeback in 2015, the Athens Jazz Festival relocates from campus to Normaltown. Free and family-friendly, the all-day affair is co-presented by WUGA 91.7/94.5 FM and local nonprofit JazzAthensGA.

North Georgia Folk Festival
Saturday, Sept. 29, Sandy Creek Park

Featuring a murderer’s row of roots-music specialists, the 34th annual North Georgia Folk Fest presents Athenians and alums Jim White, Kyshona Armstrong, The Darnell Boys, Claire Campbell, The Moonshine and more.

Classic City Fringe Festival
Thursday, Oct. 18–Sunday, Oct. 21, multiple locations

Dreamers, daredevils and freaks are given top billing at this now-annual event, which features a full weekend of music, experimental theater, vaudeville, comedy, puppetry, cabaret performances and more.

Wild Rumpus Parade and Spectacle
Friday, Oct. 26 & Saturday, Oct. 27, multiple locations

Organizer Timi Conley’s Halloween rave-up continues to expand, with this year’s activities including a kid-friendly costume party, a 5K run and music from Unknown Hinson, Partials, Monsoon, Linqua Franqa and the Ladies of LCD Soundsystem.


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