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Fall Arts 2018: Local Concerts

In Music
THIS IS FALL: Childish Gambino, Spanish punk, Thundercat, Shakira, Culture Abuse, and plenty more.

THIS IS FALL: Childish Gambino, Spanish punk, Thundercat, Shakira, Culture Abuse, and plenty more.

The summer festival season is great for catching legacy acts and buzzy bands enjoying their moment of critical acclaim, but festivals are just a small part of the yearly musical cycle. Much of the lifeblood of music takes place outside of festival—in clubs, bars, DIY venues and occasionally even the SAP Center. This fall, a number of this generation’s most exciting musicians come through the South Bay, most of whom are touring behind new albums. From Spanish punk to Barbie Dreams, this is the best live music happening in the South Bay this fall.

Wild Animals
Sept 5
Subrosa, Santa Cruz
This May, Spanish indie punks Wild Animals released their second album on SoCal label Lauren Records. Full of melodic bangers, The Hoax draws from a wellspring of tried-and-true ’90s influences like Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr. and Dillinger Four, as well as more current indie rock acts like Swearin’ and Katie Ellen. On their first-ever American tour, the Madrid band stops by Subrosa in Santa Cruz. On a good day the small anarchist bookstore and community space fits about 50 people, making it the perfect place to catch the kinetic punk band while they’re on top of their game.

Sept 6
SAP Center, San Jose
In an age when Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders have all held positions of authority, it’s comforting to know that at least hips don’t lie. Shakira, she of throaty vocals and diminutive height, brings this eternal truth to the SAP Center this September in all its slinky glory. El Dorado, her 2017 album, may have been under-promoted in the mainstream, but it’s chock-full of classically Shakiran material like the dubby reggaeton of “Clandestino,” and the club-ready “Chatanje,” songs sure to get the crowd going in San Jose.

Sept 8
Pure Nightclub, Sunnyvale
With a voice somewhere between Aaliyah and Rihanna, Tinashe is a pop superstar in the making. She may not be a household name in America yet, but in plenty of places around the globe the former child star is already a major success, placing high on the charts with her trap-pop hit “No Drama” (featuring Offset) and club-ready sizzler “Me So Bad,” both of which are on this May’s Joyride. And with dance moves as good as her voice, club-goers at Pure are in for a great performance by an artist about to break.

Nothing & Culture Abuse
Sept 18
The Ritz
If heavy shoegaze is a thing (and based on the amount of bands making it, it is), Nothing is near the center of the movement. This month’s Dance on the Blacktop is the third album by the bad-dreamy Philadelphia post-hardcore band, one that continues their tradition of mixing swirling reverb with lyrics about the disgusting banality of bodily existence. Meanwhile, the Bay Area’s own Culture Abuse make impassioned pop played with the vitality of the punk bands they love, and are one of the best bands to emerge from the gentrified mess of modern San Francisco.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Tour
Sept 20
Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View
It’s hard to imagine the last 20 years of music without the era-defining The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Winning five Grammy awards the year it was released, the first solo album by the ex-Fugees singer laid the groundwork for pan-African American albums like Kamasi Washington’s The Epic and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, as well as the neo-soul movement of Amy Winehouse and the Dap-Kings. It’s a modern classic, and the reason why Ms. Hill remains one of the most respected and feared musicians on Earth.

Sept 21
Art Boutiki, San Jose
This one is not to miss. Kneebody is one of the best young jazz groups today. Last year’s Antihero is a record packed with incredible performances, weird compositional choices and, most importantly, great songs. All the songs are good. The groove on “Uprising” could kill a man. Kneebody is the kind of group that pays homage to the greats not by copying them, but by stretching the genre’s boundaries like they did. Getting this kind of talent in a room like Art Boutiki makes for one of the best shows of the fall.

Parquet Courts
Sept 28
The Ritz, San Jose
This year Parquet Courts released a song about collective action that’s named after a technique from the 1974 World Cup and ends with the lyric: “Fuck Tom Brady.” It’s good. The album opener for this year’s Wide Awaaaaake!, “Total Football” is pure nervous energy. Lyrically, it plays out like Marxist poetry, drawing a line that connect Hermann Hesse, the Beatles and the Black Panthers in a struggle against apathy. This is the first time New York band will play San Jose, a welcome sign for those anxious to see more relevant up-and-coming touring acts come through the city.

Childish Gambino
Oct 2
SAP Center, San Jose
Childish Gambino’s 2016 album Awaken, My Love! may have spawned the massive hit “Redbone,” but it proved to only be the beginning of a shift for the musician, one that culminated in his massive 2018 banger “This is America.” Like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Gambino’s (a.k.a. Donald Glover’s) recent works have made a conscious effort to fuse all elements of the African-American experience, creating something that is both pop and a cultural document. Not bad for a project that started with a Wu-Tang name generator.

Conor Oberst
Oct 5
Cocoanut Grove Ballroom, Santa Cruz
It wasn’t so long ago that magazines were calling Conor Oberst the next Bob Dylan. Like Dylan, his voice is instantly recognizable, and like Dylan, he takes elements of folk music and weaves emotional journeys into their familiar chord progressions. After more than two decades in music, he’s been a part of indie rock, emo, punk, Americana and just about every diagonal that crosses and bisects them. With him in Santa Cruz is his backing band, the Mystic Valley Band, as well Phoebe Bridgers, a musician whose work is exciting people the way a young Conor Oberst once did.

Mac Miller & Thundercat
Oct 30
City National Civic, San Jose
Somehow, despite having his debut album hit No. 1 on the Billboard top 200s with no major distribution behind it, Mac Miller has remained something of an underdog. This year’s Swimmer is full of poolside pop that came just in time for the end of summer. But more importantly, Thundercat is opening the show. Thundercat, the low-end wizard who dresses like Ash Ketchum on acid, is one of the most unique voices in instrumental music today, playing bass in way that hardly sounds like an instrument at all. Don’t sleep on the chance to see either in a rare San Jose performance.  

Nicki Minaj & Future
Nov 16
SAP Center
It’s only been a couple of weeks since Nicki Minaj released Queen, but it’s already spawned thinkpieces about her witchy laugh, freestyles about fucking Stephen Colbert, and one weird piece from Forbes of all places claiming that the album is “hypocritical” (I guess fawning over billionaires’ yachts isn’t paying the bills). With her at the SAP Center is Future, the man whose “Mask Off” made flute the hottest instrument in hip-hop. Like Minaj, Future is saying he’ll have a new album out in time for the tour. Fingers crossed that the clarinet gets a prominent feature this time.

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