You can’t remember the last time that it rained, and if AccuWeather has anything to say about it, that’s not changing anytime soon. The end of the world, and time to start spray painting your car a Max Rockatansky flat-black? Possibly. Until then, get celebrating with any—or all—of the following four shows.
At the Commodore Ballroom on October 14
One of the most fascinating things about British music is the way that a band that’s on the path to being huge in the land of fish and chips and warm beer still has to put in the work in North America. That explains why established U.K. stars like Clash, the Police, and Blur did some of their first North American shows at the Commodore. When not popping up at Reading or Glastonbury (billed just below Jack White and above Olivia Rodrego and Yungblud) Wolf Alice headlines 10,000 seaters at home, the band hitting a winning sweet spot between enchantingly ethereal pop and fuzz-swept shoegaze. Need more of an endorsement? This year Wolf Alice took home the Brit Award for Best British Group, that having a lot to do with 2021’s Mercury Prize-nominated Blue Weekend. A sweeping manifesto that explores the challenges of staying grounded and human in an often-inhuman world, the album has resonated on both sides of the Atlantic for good reason. Admit it–more than once on a bad day, you’ve cued up “Smile”, stood in front of the mirror, and sang along with Ellie Roswell when she clocks in with “I am what I am and I’m good at it/And you don’t like me, well that isn’t fucking relevant.”
Pet Shop Boys/New Order
At Rogers Arena on October 16
Stick around long enough and sometimes you get to come back from what This is Spinal Tap once dubbed the “‘Where are they now?’ file.” At the height of the neon-dipped, mousse-abuse early ’80s Pet Shop Boys and New Order were two of the biggest and most forward-thinking synth bands on the planet. The brilliance of the former’s “West End Girls” was that it sounded like a fog-shrouded night in Bristol (even though bandmates Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe called London home). As for New Order, the band’s greatest trick was that it didn’t sound anything like Joy Division–-and that, even if you were hopelessly rhythmically challenged, you could dance to “Blue Monday”. While neither band never really went away, the world was no place for ’80s synth-pop during hair metal, grunge, electronica, rap-rock, garage rawk, new folk, and the endless juggernaut known as hip-hop. Now, because some retro acts get luckier than others, Pet Shop Boys and New Order are both headlining hockey rinks again while most of their peers are stuck doing state fairs and nostalgia cruises. As a bonus, no less than Paul Oakenfold opens, after which he’ll be fanboying from the side of the stage the rest of the night.
At Fortune Sound Club on October 17
Ever fall instantly in love with an artist you’ve never heard of, for no other reason than their song titles? (No need to answer this if you’re a retro-emo die-hard; instead get ready to mist up as you flash back to the days of "Reese's Pieces, I Don't Know Who John Cheese Is?", "I Liked You Better Before You Were Naked On the Internet", and "I Slept With Someone And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me".) Hailing from the city of the Meat Puppets and outlaw country queen Jessi Colter, 23-year-old mixmaster Taylor Cameron Upsahl doesn’t lack for attitude. That’s made crystal-frontier clear by genre-mashing anti-pop confections like “Douchebag”, “Lunatic”, and “People I Don’t Like” (the latter having racked up over 8 million views on YouTube, its brilliance being that it sounds like Billie Eilish drowning in a swimming pool of industrial-strength purple drank.) Anyone can come up with a clever name for a song–the artist known to her guidance counselor as Upsahl backs things up with lyrics like “Hello it’s so good to see you/We met before but nice to meet you.” Not caring is an art form. Upsahl is already on her way to being a master.
At the Wise Hall on October 15
Because an acoustic guitar seems to be her favourite music weapon, Kate Bollinger tends to find herself filed under folk, which doesn’t totally describe things. Instead of Townes Van Zandt, Julien Baker, or the criminally underappreciated Iris DeMent, the Charlotteville-based singer-songwriter writes songs made for sun-faded, lazy Sunday mornings. Think the best of the giants of ’60s French-pop (hello Françoise Hardy and Jane Birkin), modern chanteuses like Keran Ann and Cat Power, and, of course, the Velvet Underground’s essential “Sunday Morning”. While she’s been making records since 2017, it was only after graduating from university during the hell that was COVID that Bollinger decided to go all-in on a music career. Good news for us as she’s currently on the road supporting the new EP Look at it in the Light, a record whose songs will not only enchant this Saturday at East Van’s fabulous WISE Hall, but will sound just as great on Sunday morning when–you guessed it–the forecast is sun-faded and lazy.