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From nostalgia acts with synths from the 80s to nostalgia acts with acoustic guitars from the 90s, the Chicago spring concert season is infinitely better than the winter concert season. Everything sounds better when you’re outside. Or at least not freezing on the way to a show.

March 22

La Luz @ Sleeping Village

Vibey Los Angeles-based pop group La Luz escaped the garage rock boom of the late 2000s/early 2010s unscathed, riding a wave of blissed-out surf jams through the decade that followed. 2018’s Floating Features sees the gang in La Luz tightening up, but not necessarily straying from, their sound, bringing muscular production and a more introspective songwriting approach to the table. -Matt Byrne

March 23, 24

Better Oblivion Community Center @ Lincoln Hall

Neither co-founder of the feelings rock dream-team duo Better Oblivion Community Center is a stranger to the supergroup scene. Conor Oberst previously joined forces with folks like My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and M. Ward in the cheekily named Monsters of Folk and Phoebe Bridgers’ work last year with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus resulted in one of the year’s most acclaimed releases, the boygenius EP. Conor and Phoebe trade impassioned vocals and gleefully hop across subgenres on the Better Oblivion record, a surprise release dropped on our heads back in January. -Matt Byrne


March 25

Methyl Ethel @ Schubas

Australian rock weirdos Methyl Ethel are traveling all the way over here to the states to spread the word about their new album, Triage, the completion of a trio of thematically-linked albums released over the last four or five years. These guys are gonna be super popular extremely soon so you’d be smart to catch them now before they’re playing venues five times the size of the ones they’re in now. -Matt Byrne

March 26

Graveyard @ Metro

Swedish heavy psych rockers Graveyard have only gotten heavier and more psychedelic over the years, to the delight of underground hard rock fans/heshers around the world. Blending blues rock tropes with more mind-expanding passages and riff-heavy workouts, Graveyard is the dream band for a certain kind of rock dude, which you very much may be! -Matt Byrne

March 28

Robert Ellis @ Old Town School of Folk Music

With his white suit and cowboy hat, Robert Ellis dresses to impress. But it’s when he sits at the piano that things really get going. Don’t miss the multitalented piano impresario along with Ian O’Neil of Deertick as he tours his newest release, Texas Piano Man. -Johnny Fantastic

March 29

Homeshake @ Metro

On Helium, Montreal-based artist Pete Sagar doubles down on the bedroom synths of earlier records, turning inwards when many other of his peers and contemporaries have begun to stretch out. While that thought generally gives me pause, it works for the artist known as Homeshake: his vision of solitude and isolation is by choice, and it lies at the core of music that is deeply introspective. Sagar has become something of a reluctant indie darling since leaving the spotlight of the Mac DeMarco band, and his soft-spoken nature translates to live shows that are self-effacing, delicate, and gentle. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

Read our 2016 interview with Homeshake

March 30

American Football @ Metro

Accidental emo godfathers American Football returned in 2014 for a series of hotly-anticipated reunion shows, and have just sort of hung around since then, much to the delight of the cult following they’d amassed in the years following the release of their iconic 1999 debut and subsequent breakup. They released a solid followup album in 2016, and are back in 2019 with another new one, which features a series of huge guest vocalists, including Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell and Paramore’s Hayley Williams. -Matt Byrne

March 31

Baroness & Deafheaven @ The Riviera

Nothing better than a good old Weird Metal Doubleheader, you know? Sludgy space cadets Baroness have been holding it down for over 15 years at this point, crafting idiosyncratic, face-melting fuzz epics across acclaimed LPs like Yellow & Green and Purple (sense a theme?). Their co-headliners/tourmates in Deafheaven have found a similar level of acclaim in their career, but at a much more accelerated pace. Their novel combination of black metal vocals with shoegaze aesthetics has produced some of the most punishingly beautiful jams of the decade. -Matt Byrne

Deafheaven Pallbearer Brightest Young Things Farrah Skeiky 19

April 1

Open Mike Eagle @ Schubas

LA by way of Chicago rapper Open Mike Eagle’s extremely funny, but is not like, a comedy rapper. He deserves way better than that brutal designation. Sure, his brilliantly crafted tracks can be laugh out loud hilarious, but also thought provoking, formally complex, and emotionally resonant. An Open Mike Eagle live show all these things an more, and never to be missed, so uh, don’t miss it. -Matt Byrne

April 3

Shy Boys @ Beat Kitchen

Lo-fi jangle pop will never die, and you know what? That’s totally alright with me. Press materials describe them as “The Beach Boys on Robitussin,” which is honestly pretty dead on. There’s a lot of buzz around this gang of Kansas City oddball poppers, and it’s easy to understand why: the lo-fi production belies tight songwriting and a knack for candy-coated harmonies. -Matt Byrne

April 3

Com Truise @ Lincoln Hall

Synthwave, or whatever it is you want to call it, has been having a prolonged moment on and off for the last several years and Com Truise has a lot to do with keeping things going. Dude crafts massive sonic landscapes out of an extremely specific 1980s synth pop vibe, and people love him for it. Ya gotta go see our friend Com when he comes through. -Matt Byrne

April 4

Shwayze @ Beat Kitchen

The world met Schwayze in 2008 via the MTV reality series Buzzin’, following Schwayze’s misadventures in Malibu as he and his producer, Cisco Adler, ascended the pop/rap charts, thanks to charming, if a bit bro-y, tracks like “Buzzin” and “Corona and Lime.” He’s never quite hit that level of ubiquity since then, but Schwayze has kept it going, chasing the never-ending Summer vibes of his early hits. -Matt Byrne

April 5

Swervedriver @ House of Blues

English shoegazers Swervedriver came back from a nearly 20 year hiatus in 2015 with the impressive I Wasn’t Born to Lose You and haven’t looked back since. Their new album, Future Ruins, is a similarly confident and consistent collection of songs, adding a slew of brain-melting cuts to incorporate into their always memorable live shows. -Matt Byrne

April 6

The Wild Reeds @ Sleeping Village

Sure, The Wild Reeds spine-tingling harmonies sound good (great!) on record, but you hear these LA-based troubadours really get into it in real life, up on stage? Oh my lord, transcendent! -Matt Byrne

April 8

Telekinesis @ Schubas

Listening to a Telekinesis album is like witnessing a feat of strength. Songwriter Michael Lerner plays everything himself across these deceptively dense power pop nuggets, full of idiosyncratic hooks and secret earworms that will follow you around for days. Since he’s not actually superhuman, Lerner is joined in a live setting by a killer backing band, bringing these studio gems into the real world. -Matt Byrne

April 10

Broods @ Metro

Moody New Zealand pop siblings Broods have expanded their once-limited palette on their latest album, the eclectic Don’t Feed the Pop Monster, released earlier this year. A record full of the sort of electronically-inclined indie pop that has dominated some of the biggest Spotify playlists out there, Broods are poised to continue their ascent into the pop mainstream here. -Matt Byrne


April 11

Hatebreed @ Concord Music Hall

One of the biggest metalcore bands out there, Hatebreed’s unholy combination of the technical acrobatics of metal and the base brutality of hardocre has influenced countless purveyors of aggressive music over the years. They’ve been touring and releasing music consistently since forming in the early 90’s, and show no sign of slowing down. It’s also worth noting is that their longtime drummer and I have the same name. -Matt Byrne

April 12

Lee Fields & The Expressions @ Thalia Hall

Lee Fields is one of the most engaging live performers out there. Since getting his start in the crowded yet fertile soul scene of the late 1960s, Fields has never been more popular than he is now, performing impassioned, invigorating soul jams backed by the murderer’s row of musicians known as The Expressions. His new album, It Rains Love, is a sort of message from Lee to the world, spreading positive energy and love during a time full of doomy feelings and dread. One way to chase away the bad feels is to get yourself out to a Lee Fields show. -Matt Byrne

April 13

Show Me The Body @ Subterranean

The noisy shit-kickers in Show Me The Body brought a banjo to the hardcore show and dared somebody to say something about it. Incorporating elements of noise, hip hop, and industrial music into pulsating, provocative hardcore (centered around the distorted twang of the aforementioned banjo), this Queens trio sound like nothing else out there. -Matt Byrne

April 14

Aldous Harding @ The Empty Bottle

I’ve been in love with Aldous Harding’s music for ages, but then again, I am quite the sucker for folk vibes. (And her tunes are chockablock full of ’em.) Party is a personal favorite for soundtracking my mind-wandering walks around the city (“What If Birds Aren’t Singing They’re Screaming” is a real heart buster), and Designer (which was just released) is likely to make a nice companion once it comes out on April 27. While I’ve never seen the New Zealander live, I would imagine the energy in the room is pretty magical and pensive, and you’re likely to head home feeling like you just witnessed something pretty special. -Megan Burns

April 15

Electric Wizard @ The Riviera

Iconic British doom gods Electric Wizard have repeatedly redefined the occasionally stagnant state of heavy metal over the last thirty years, crafting 10+ minute long epics full of morbid and outlandish tales of witchcraft, murder, and the occult. Get zooted all to hell on the devil’s weed and bathe yourself in the doomy embrace of these living legends. -Matt Byrne

April 16

of Montreal @ Lincoln Hall

Since beginning as a lo-fi solo project back in the mid 90s, of Montreal has gone through countless permutations: Byrds-y 60s psych folk, television commercial-friendly electronic pop, Prince-indebted future funk, the list goes on. Their latest album pays tribute to a bygone era of 12” dance singles, drenched in synths and club-ready repetitive rhythms, meaning things are bound to get wild out there during their reliably surprising and energetic live shows. -Matt Byrne

Read our 2018 interview with of Montreal


April 17

Chris Cohen @ The Hideout

Chris Cohen’s new, self-titled album is full of the sort of the downtempo but friendly-sounding tracks that populate his discography, a perennially underrated catalog of deceptively simple, deeply felt psych-tinged folk pop. Find yourself at a live Chris Cohen show, and witness some of the layers peeling back, you’ll begin to notice the odd nooks and crannies of his songs, unveiling a singularly observed world. -Matt Byrne

Read our 2016 interview with Chris Cohen

April 18

Ella Vos @ Chop Shop

I tend to like listening to music on my own more than I do in rooms full of people. (WOW, COOL HERMIT!) But there is something about Ella Vos’ music that I just feel like begs to be a shared experience? Like, I will stand near tall people and loud people and all people so that we can all just have this one moment together in angelic voiced harmony. -Megan Burns

April 19

Steve Gunn @ Lincoln Hall

Guitarman Steve Gunn’s effortless ripping and elliptical, hard-to-pin-down songwriting has placed him at the forefront of a half made up scene of New Cosmic Americana acts, plumbing the depths of classic American psychedelic folk music. However you want to describe it, dude shreds but doesn’t make a whole big thing about it, making it all the more engaging to watch. -Matt Byrne

April 21

Wild Belle @ Metro

Chicago-based indie pop band Wild Belle has been close to breaking through to the mainstream for several years now, and with the upcoming release of their third album, Everybody One Of A Kind, they just may crack it. Infusing a wider, globally sourced range of influences than past releases, this new joint is sure to blow up all your playlists of choice. -Matt Byrne

April 23, 24

Todd Rundgren @ Athenaeum Theatre

Idiosyncratic classic rock icon Todd Rundgren is touring behind the release of his new autobiography, The Individualist, which gives an inside look at the life and career of the serial pioneer. Rundgren spent decades on the cutting edge and continues to chase his vision, which you gotta respect. -Matt Byrne

April 24

Diane Coffee @ Schubas

At this point, Diane Coffee has gone wayyyyyy beyond “side project of one of the folks from Foxygen but not like one of the main Foxygen dudes” and into it’s own individual thing. Diane Coffee’s latest permutation is a based around Shaun Fleming’s gender-bending glam pop rebel, with special focus set on his dynamic vocal range and constantly evolving glitterbomb aesthetic. -Matt Byrne

April 25

Beth Hart @ Park West

Drawing substantial acclaim for her innovative and thoughtful approach to “the blues” as it stood near the end of the 20th century, New Zealand songwriter Beth Hart has, alongside her frequent collaborator, Joe Bonamassa, become something of a global sensation over the last two decades. Hart’s 2019 tour follows a big 2018 for live albums, she put out two different live CD/DVD combos just a handful of months apart, acting as a two-pronged showcase of her refined performance chops. -Matt Byrne

April 27

Son Volt @ Thalia Hall

Masters of Americana Son Volt spent the 1990s, following the dissolution of frontman Jay Farrar’s previous group, Uncle Tupelo, blowing the collective minds of critics and a small fanbase of alt country fans. Farrar has released albums semi-regularly since the band’s mid-90s boom, continuing to refine his craft as a songwriter, utilizing a rotating cast of backing musicians to further his vision. -Matt Byrne

April 29

The Japanese House @ Bottom Lounge

English vocalist and frequent collaborator with massively popular rock group The 1975, The Japanese House is one of the more successful post-Bon Iver indie pop artists going. Songwriter Amber Bain’s downtempo, synth-washed take on the well-worn Sad Pop tropes of the streaming age is enriched by a semi-serious veil of mystery and depth of songwriting. -Matt Byrne

May 1

The Drums @ Metro

We have previously described The Drums as “the perfect band”, and this is still an incredibly accurate statement. Find all the justification you seek re: purchasing tickets right here! -Megan Burns

May 3, 4

Lizzo @ Riviera Theatre

Lizzo is another force who I do not feel needs any introduction. If you are scratching your head at this moment, it means you have somehow been living under a rock. Lizzo is God. Do whatever you have to do (including but certainly not limited to selling your dog and/or stealing from your grandma) to see Lizzo live. -Megan Burns


May 3

Field Medic @ Subterranean

Field Medic makes songs that make me laugh and songs that make me feel an insatiable longing. It’s a good combination. “OTL” will forever make me laugh and “POWERFUL LOVE” will forever be on repeat. -Kaylee Dugan

May 5

Damo Suzuki’s Network @ Constellation

Perhaps best known for his work as vocalist for the pioneering krautrock collective CAN, Damo Suzuki’s taking his first trip stateside in over a decade in celebration of his new autobiography I Am Damo Suzuki. Each stop on this tour finds Suzuki doing what he does best: improvising with a genre-bending cast of musicians culled from that city’s experimental music scene. If I have to explain to you why these Damo shows are gonna rule, it’s already too late for you. -Matt Byrne

May 8

Julia Jacklin @ Schubas

If you’re looking for Angel Olsen vibes by way of Australia, then Julia Jacklin IS YOUR GIRL 100%! I interviewed homegirl a few years ago (she’s just the loveliest, by the way) after she put out Don’t Let The Kids Win, and she’s back now with a whole new batch o’ tracks on Crushing. I am personally v. stoked to hear ’em live, as should you be, so be sure to grab those tickets or REGRET YOUR MISTAKE FOREVER. -Megan Burns

May 9

My Brightest Diamond @ Lincoln Hall

Shara Nova, frequent collaborator with acts like Sufjan Stevens and The Decemberists during the reign of that specific strain of folky, hyperliterate indie rock, has continued to push the boundaries of her sound over the last 15 years. Via a deluge of albums, EPs, and collaborative remix albums and 12”s released over the last fifteen years as My Brightest Diamond, Nova’s powerhouse voice has been backed by various permutations of indie rock, baroque pop, and electronic music, each genre experiment engaging in its own way. Her newfound embrace of dancefloor-friendly beats and omnivorous songwriting approach makes her an especially engaging live performer these days. -Matt Byrne

Read our 2014 interview with My Brightest Diamond

May 10

Running Touch @ Chop Shop

I first came across Running Touch on Hayden James’ infectious pseudo-electronic house single “Better Together.” The mysterious producer from Melbourne is a joy to listen to, creating layered intimate and personal electronica shrouded in an effervescent aura of smoke. Songs like “This is Just to Say” and “When I’m Around You” hit all the right notes of stirring emotion in a way only electronica interlaced with skin-deep lyrics of desire and lust can. This is a refinement of a genre above all else, but it’s one of the better refinements I’ve heard in a while. -Ruben Gzirian

May 11

The Dandy Warhols @ Metro

It’s not always great when your band is best known for a documentary about how you’re a bunch of dang weirdos, but it’s been working for The Dandy Warhols since Dig! came out way back in 2004. Joined by pals/rivals in The Brian Jonestown Massacre, audiences were offered a glimpse behind the scenes at what it was like working towards a breakthrough to the mainstream (or not), and all the self-flagellation and bitter feelings that come along with it. Either way The Dandies are turning 25 this year and I’m happy for them! -Matt Byrne

May 12

Tech N9ne @ Patio Theatre

Hyper technical underground favorite Tech N9ne stands in a class of his own, his knack for spitting intense, extremely complicated rhymes has made him an all-time great to a certain kind of rap fan. He’s built a network of similarly verbose, skilled rappers and producers through his Strange Music label over the last 20 years, a rotating cast of characters that regularly pop up across his massive discography. His live show is a high-octane showcase of his hardcore bonafides, a hyped-up, bare-bones setup that never relents. -Matt Byrne

May 13

L’Imperatrice @ Lincoln Hall

Do you ever feel like you just want to pretend to be hot for a while? If so, L’Imperatrice make the perfect tunes for that! I mean, to be fair, all French music is p. sex dot com, but like…this is next level. Pop on “PARFUM THÉRÉMINE” and some sunglasses, and proceed to stare at yourself seductively in the mirror for a long, long time. (And then obviously catch L’Imperatrice live, because I can only imagine the vibes are amplified in a dimly lit room!) -Megan Burns

May 15, 16

The Mountain Goats @ Thalia Hall

It’s hard to be just a casual fan of The Mountain Goats, they have a way of attracting enthusiastic fandom, if not obsession. If you’re in, you’re all the way in, spending hours pouring through their massive back catalog, getting small but meaningful tattoos featuring all sorts of references and obtuse lyrical snippets. Few indie rock concerts feel more like a group experience than a Mountain Goats gig, a temporary reunion of a massive family united around the work of their shared infatuation. -Matt Byrne

Read our 2015 interview with John Darnielle


May 15, 16

Betty Who @ The Vic

Australian pop musician Betty Who’s newfound independence from the major label that determined the path of her career has her taking more risks, experimenting with bolder sounds, imagery, and collaborators. Her throwback approach to shiny, 1980’s-style synth pop made her a perfect candidate to record the theme song for the Queer Eye reboot that exploded Netflix last year, bringing even more fans into the fold. -Matt Byrne

Read our 2018 interview with Betty Who

All Things Go 2018

May 17

FKJ @ Concord Music Hall

My friends have been going on and on about FKJ for months, and fairly so – the French producer and multi-instrumentalist creates sonic landscapes that feel out of this world. I didn’t fully get it until I came across this live set at the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia – the world’s largest salt flats. Watch/listen to this and tell me you don’t want to see FKJ work his magic live. It’s next level. -Jose Lopez-Sanchez

May 18

Yann Tiersen @ Thalia Hall

Though perhaps best known for his work soundtracking iconic early 2000s indie films like Amelie and Good Bye Lenin!, Yann Tiersen’s collaborative, meditative album deserves just as much attention. Fusing delicate chamber music with more mainstream friendly indie and electronic flourishes, Tiersen’s amassed a huge network of collaborators, populating his albums with a variety of gifted musicians from backgrounds both classical and nontraditional. -Matt Byrne

May 19

Pedro the Lion @ Thalia Hall

David Bazan and Pedro the Lion, what’s the difference? Bazan was the sole consistent member of Pedro during their influential decade-long run as indie/emo icons in the late 1990s/early 2000s, and he never really stopped putting records out after the band broke up in 2006. But it still felt special when Pedro the Lion announced a reunion tour and subsequent new album, following the lead of bands like American Football, who got back together and stayed that way, to the delight of fans everywhere. Keep it up, gang! -Matt Byrne

May 20

The Hives & Refused @ The Vic

I really don’t know what The Hives and Refused have in common other than that they’re from Sweden and both bands have guitars in them. Either way, they’re touring together this year and I’m not sure what the crowd that shows up for this super weird pairing will be like, equally stoked to hear nostalgic cuts from both Veni Vidi Vicious and The Shape of Punk to Come. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ -Matt Byrne


May 21

The Who @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheater

So it’s not like people show up to see a band like The Who to hear like, new songs. But you’ve gotta respect a band being able to maintain this profile 55 years in, still making records and hitting the road. Their 2019 tour is in support of their new album Moving On!, and will see the band playing backed by full orchestral accompaniment, fleshing out their already massive sounding hits. -Matt Byrne

May 22

Weyes Blood @ Lincoln Hall

I listen to Newtown Radio on a daily basis, and every single time I hear an unfamiliar track and am like, “Holy shit, who is this?! I NEED TO LISTEN TO HER FOREVER!” (ex: “Andromeda”), it’s almost always Weyes Blood. Her voice is too good for this world! Her songs make me feel like I ate the whole sun! Go feel like you ate the whole sun! Buy tickets to see her live before they all sell out! -Megan Burns

Read our 2016 interview with Weyes Blood

May 23

Florence + The Machine, Blood Orange @ Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island

I feel like if you saw that Florence + The Machine were performing on the same ticket as Blood Orange and didn’t already have your mind made up about attending, no preview would convince you otherwise. Blood Orange delivered one of the best works of music in recent times with 2018’s Negro Swan and has rightfully elevated himself onto a pantheon of modern day music reserved only for artists so true to themselves that you fear it could all be revealed to be a farce in the future. Florence + The Machine continue to chug along, making music driven to the heavens through Florence Welch’s thunderous voice. 2018’s High as Hope delivered acerbic melodies and lyrics to match, and recent singles “Moderation” and “Haunted House” suggest the group’s ability to go from lightning to mist is as effortless as ever. -Ruben Gzirian


May 23, 24

Local Natives @ Thalia Hall

Indie rock mainstays Local Natives are hardly reinventing the wheel or whatever, but what’s wrong with a wheel? People love wheels. Their massive 2019 tour announce came with a promise of new music, by way of their fourth album, Violet Street, coming out care of indie rock crossover house Loma Vista Recordings. -Matt Byrne

Read our 2016 interview with Local Natives

Local Natives

May 26

Mudhoney & Metz @ Lincoln Hall

Heavy rock music transcends age like few other subgenres. A spring tour featuring a double bill of Mudhoney and Metz, two masters of aggressive, noisy rock bound by a shared record label (the good boys and girls of Seattle at Sub Pop), makes sense more than pretty much any other other cross generational tour package one could imagine. There would be no Metz without Mudhoney, and I wouldn’t want to live in a world without either band’s punishingly great discographies. -Matt Byrne

May 27

Bear’s Den @ Thalia Hall

English folk dudes Bear’s Den are frequent associates of the Mumford & Sons gang, working with the Communion bar/venue/label/community that grew out of a scene that blossomed in London over the last ten years or so. They’re a legit hit across the pond, with their debut LP going Silver and picking up a slew of UK/EU type awards and nominations, and it won’t be long before they start amassing similar buzz stateside. -Matt Byrne

May 28

Kali Uchis and Jorja Smith @ Aragon Ballroom

From R&B promises to bonafide stars, Kali Uchis and Jorja Smith each had a 2018 to remember. From sold out shows at historic venues to releasing their debut albums to critical acclaim, these singers’ careers moved forward in oddly symmetrical fashion last year. I’m not sure if there was previously a friendship at the core, but I love that the Kali and Jorja tour is a thing that we are being blessed with. And while we can stretch the similarities – they’re both women of color in their early 20s, they’ve each dabbled in the hip-hop world – these are two incredibly versatile musicians who span genres and styles without compromising their unique identities.-Jose Lopez-Sanchez

May 29

FRENSHIP @ Thalia Hall

The two main guys from FRENSHIP met while working at Lululemon, so good on them for getting out of retail hell and into the indie folk/crossover pop radio scene, you know? They’ve got a whole nice group vocals/harmony vibe going for them and I totally get why everyone is super into em. -Matt Byrne

May 31

Chromatics @ Park West

Chromatics have been promising Dear Tommy, the follow-up to their masterpiece Kill for Love, for so long that it feels like indie’s version of Chinese Democracy. They also haven’t had a tour since 2012 (the photos below are from that tour), and while the band can notoriously shy, they create a sense of atmosphere that’s about as immersive and cinematic as anything you’ll see all year. -Alan Zilberman

Chromatics @ RNR July 19, 2012 Chromatics @ RNR July 19, 2012

June 3

Teen Daze @ Empty Bottle

Teen Daze is the pseudonymous alter ego of Jamison Isaak, who’s been at it for nearly 10 years now, releasing intimate collections of bedroom pop nuggets, blasting off from the Chillwave boom of the late 2000s and soldiering on, releasing a string of well-liked albums along the way. Their slow-but-steady embrace of a more polished, studio-oriented sound hasn’t cut down on the intimacy of their live show, which often finds Isaak alone with just a keyboard, some electronic accessories, and a microphone. -Matt Byrne

June 4

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever @ Thalia Hall

Australia seems to be an endless resource of propulsive, engaging rock music. The latest and greatest export from the jolly old island of the southern hemisphere is Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, whose grungy yet accessible take on the very specifically Australian guitar-driven power pop has roots in their more abrasive garage rock scene, which really comes through in a live setting. Rolling Blackouts C.F.’s hooky jams pick up a more manic energy in concert, pushing them past “cool band that I like to listen to” into “one of my fav rock bands” territory. -Matt Byrne

June 5

Art Alexakis, Chris Collingwood, Max Collins, John Wozniak @ City Winery

The 1990s: will we ever leave them behind, fully? No! And thank god for it. If it wasn’t for sweet nostalgia, there’d be no chance we’d see a tour featuring the main guys from Everclear, Fountains of Wayne, Eve 6, and Marcy Playground all playing solo acoustic sets. How can you say no to a novelty like this?? -Matt Byrne

June 6, 7

Craig Finn & The Uptown Controllers @ Space (June 6), Old Town School of Folk Music (June 7)

More than just the frontdude from The Hold Steady, Craig Finn has built out a nice little solo career for himself, backed by a stable of musicians who have come to be known as The Uptown Controllers, who appear on all three of the solo works he’s released over the last five years or so. Less manic and boozy than his main band, Finn’s solo work gives our guy the chance to get (even more) introspective, full of personal details and observations filtered through the parade of character studies that populate any collection of tracks Finn touches. -Matt Byrne

Read our piece “How Long Does It Take The Hold Steady To Sing About The City?”


June 7

Kevin Morby @ Thalia Hall

Kevin Morby seems incapable of releasing a bad album. Dude is just massively talented, channeling the cosmic, soul-searching vibes of mid-1970s Dylan but unafraid to launch into an amphetamine-fueled Ramones tribute at the drop of a hat. I make a point to see our friend Kevin live every time he comes through town, the shows are always different, always engaging, and always an affirmation of just how freaking good this dude is at writing songs. -Matt Byrne

Read our 2016 interview with Kevin Morby

June 8

The Specials @ The Vic

Groundbreaking ska act The Specials have broken up and reunited several times since they got their start incorporating rude boy vibes into the burgeoning late 1970s English punk scene. Their most recent incarnation features three of the band’s founding members, backed by a roster of mostly pretty newer ringers. Three out of eight or nine is good enough for me, I suppose! As far as live ska shows go, this is one of the less embarrassing ones you could probably end up at! -Matt Byrne

June 9

Billie Eilish @ Aragon Ballroom

Billie Eilish seems like a parody of the LA teen life. Her middle name is Pirate, she’s worn a designer ziplock bag on her head as fashion, oh, and at just 17-years-old Billie Eilish’s debut EP has amassed over 750 million Spotify streams. Now she’s back with her first studio album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? The full album is expected to be released on March 29, but the four songs she’s released so far have already blown up (for better or for worse). Eilish’s songs might seem to juvenile for some: After all, she’s a 17-year-old writing songs about the monster under her bed and problematically wishing boys were gay. But she has a lovely voice, and there’s a sheer absurdity in Eilish’s overly edgy, eerie aesthetic that makes her music particularly enjoyable and indulgent if you just let yourself lean into it. -Afriti Bankwalla

Billie Eilish

June 11

Little Simz @ Schubas

Man not enough people are into Little Simz. The UK rapper is unafraid to aim high, with an eye towards experimentation. She’s gone and released Grey Area, a collection of intensely personal reflections on aging and life as an artist as a followup to a conceptually-driven song cycles riffing on Alice in Wonderland, the slept on 2016 album Stillness in Wonderland. Pull up her excellent Tiny Desk Concert and you’ll be hooked. -Matt Byrne

June 12

Crys Matthews & Heather Mae @ Space

Few double bills feel more natural than the linkup between Heather Mae and Crys Matthews, two outspoken activist musicians whose lyrics share themes of social justice, observed from underrepresented identities within the music industry at large. Mae’s piano-driven balladry packs a huge emotional wallop, while Matthews’ more laid-back folk-influenced sound channels politically-charged artists like Ani DiFranco or Lucinda Williams before her. -Matt Byrne

June 13

Dido @ The Vic

Guys, Dido’s back. And she’s here to prove she’s got way more to offer than the downtempo coffeeshop jams like “Thank You” and “White Flag” that first launched her to prominence back in at the beginning of the century. Her new album, Still On My Mind, has a massive synth pop influence, and has gotten pretty good reviews! Sure she put a record out a few years back but is about to embark on her first tour in 15 years, holy hell. Let’s all go welcome Dido back and show her a good time, you know? -Matt Byrne

June 15

Charly Bliss @ Lincoln Hall

Brooklyn four piece Charly Bliss charmed indie-rock fans with their 2017 album Guppy, and now two years later the band are back with their sophomore album Young Enough. No longer working day jobs, Charly Bliss had more time to compose their record the way they wanted. The final product is awash in glossy synths, more focused and pop forward with the same amount of bite and wit that are a hallmark of Eva Hendrick’s lyrics. Lead singles “Capacity” and “Chatroom” represent the record’s poppier material, but the Charly Bliss of Guppy is still present in tracks like “Under You” and “Hard to Believe”. -Rohan Mahadevan

June 16

Vampire Weekend @ Huntington Bank Pavilion on Northerly Island

I’m glad Vampire Weekend is back. I like them a lot and think people are too hard on them. Their last album, Modern Vampires of the City is one of my favorite albums ever and I have extremely high hopes for their new one, which apparently has a not-so-subtle jam band influence? We’ll see about that one!!!! They’re hitting the road on a massive tour in support of this bad boy, titled Father of the Bride, hitting plenty of festivals and outdoor venues along the way, further leaning into the ~*~jam vibes~**. I’m all for it, I guess! -Matt Byrne

June 20

Howard Jones @ House of Blues

Howard Jones helped shape the aesthetic of what we think of when we think about 1980s synth pop. Dude is just endlessly influential, his big feathered hair, dramatic vocal performances, shimmering synthesizers, it’s everything you want from perfectly cheeseball “80s music.” His 2019 tour is, of course, in support of his new album, but doubles as a 35th anniversary celebration of his acclaimed debut LP, Human’s Lib. Little old, little new, all synths all the time! -Matt Byrne