An easy way to discover new music is to check out who’s opening for your favorite band. Besides, you already bought a ticket for the whole show — why not catch all of it? Here are some of this month’s best reasons to get there early. (Added bonus: shorter lines at the bar.)
Sept. 8, High Noon Saloon with Titus Andronicus
One of the breakout rock acts of this year’s SXSW, Philadelphia trio Control Top is both a radical queer punk band and also a straight-up fantastic hardcore group. Covert Contracts, released in April via Get Better Records, is full of rippers and has become one of my favorite debut albums of the year. There’s no easing into this one, so you might as well throw yourself in at full force.
Sept. 11, High Noon Saloon with Russian Circles
From the roster of excellent Chicago-based label Trouble in Mind, FACS is a great post-punk trio who all formerly played with the band Disappears (their formation followed the departure of a fourth Disappears member). Their minimalist approach to rock fits a bit like a fractured take on the genre: It’s loud, melodic and driving, but exploded enough to make use of the small gaps between stabs of drums and processed guitar.
Sept. 12, Majestic Theatre with Pinegrove
Don’t be fooled: Stephen Steinbrink transcends most of the associations you might attribute to “sad guy songwriting.” Yes, the Oaklander and ex-member of AJJ has been through a lot, and his tunes are heavy and beautiful, but he manages to convey a lot of wonder and honesty through it all. Definitely don’t show up late to this one; in my heart, Steinbrink is easily the No. 1 on this bill.
Sept. 14, The Sylvee with Tycho
If their beachy name didn’t give it away, Poolside was a part of the chillwave boom of the early 2010s. I actually had to look this up to verify it: “Poolside… like, that Poolside? Whoa!” They’ve been a sleeper hit for the past decade, and they’ve sustained their appeal with a slow burn of remixes for the hippest of the names you associate with downtempo indie house. I can’t think of much better of a way to open a show than by shuffling from foot to foot and letting the deep house energy wash over the crowd as the night warms up.
Sept. 19, Memorial Union Terrace with Lola Kirke
It can be difficult for an artist to craft an otherworldly persona without just coming off a try-hard weirdo who wishes they were born in a different decade. CSo consider me doubly won over by songwriter Odetta Hartman, as she manages to do this while employing hypermodern electronic tricks and effects. Hartman made a splash at SXSW 2018 with her multi-instrumentalist talents, and at the Terrace she’ll surely be playing from her latest release, Old Rockhounds Never Die.
Sept. 22, High Noon Saloon with Black Mountain
Psych rock is a genre that contains multitudes. Dommengang, a Las Angeles three-piece on Thrill Jockey records, are a rollicking act who embody the spirit of motorcycle-riding, pool-shooting psych rock more than, say, vibe-out in a tent psych rock. And take it from me, someone who’s never sat on a motorcycle: There’s no better kind of rock ‘n’ roll than this.
Sept. 27, Majestic Theatre with The New Pornographers
Known as Lady Lamb and the Beekeeper when her music first appeared on my hard drive, Aly Spaltro’s career has been sorely in need of massive attention for nearly a decade now. Her catalog is littered with great, huge-feeling songs, and it shows in her live sets. And a bonus for the WI diehards: former Appletonian Alex Schaaf (Yellow Ostrich) plays guitar in the Lady Lamb live band.