30 Best Concerts in Phoenix in September 2016

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The summertime certainly had its fair share of great concerts, including many of the stunning, spectacular and super-sized variety. With that being said, September is going to be even better. No joke.

As a matter of fact, we can assuredly state that this month will feature some of the most-anticipated concerts of the year. For proof, you can look no further that its lineup of stellar shows. Highly influential electronica band Kraftwerk is bringing its 3-D spectacle to the Orpheum Theatre, arguably the best venue in the Valley. Heavy metal legends Black Sabbath will be performing their final concert ever here in Phoenix. And we’re finally going to get to see what all the hullabaloo regarding Prophets of Rage is all about when they swing through town.

In other words, we hope you’ve got plenty of disposable income saved up.

Here’s a look at every concert we’re looking forward to seeing in September.

Hot Sugar – Friday, September 2 – Valley Bar
Don't let the name fool you. Hot Sugar's work can be considerably icy and bitter — at least nominally so. Track titles like "Addictions," "Trauma," and "Dead Inside" certainly seem to point to a darker section of the human condition, a running theme in his work. But the actual sound of the Grammy-nominated NYC producer (born Nick Koenig) can be beatifically sweet. Carried by delicate melodic arrangements intricately constructed from field recordings and found sounds, it's precisely the type of contemplative, genre-defying electronica championed by the iconic Ninja Tune label, which released his breakout Moon Money EP in 2012. Of course, Koenig has been nothing short of prolific since, dropping his debut long player, God's Hand, last year and even contributing music for the Comedy Central hit show Broad City. SEAN LEVISMAN

Gareth Emery – Friday, September 2 – Maya Day & Nightclub
What does it feel like to release an anthem — a track that becomes unanimous with a genre? Is there any hint of what's to come in the recording studio? Does the sky blacken and the thunder clap closer until, finally, the song is done and a flock of golden hummingbirds flies into the studio to carry the fresh CD — still hot to the touch — to radio stations across the world? Not according to Gareth Emery. "You never really can know a record will be big," he says. "You make it as good as you can possibly make it, and the rest of the world decides from that point." Emery would know. His 2012 song "Concrete Angel" became arguably the most popular trance track of all time, carving his name into the #trancefamily hall of fame. But despite the fact that Emery has made one of the most popular trance songs of all time, he doesn't like to confine himself to one genre. "I don't really like defining what my sound is," he says. "Anyone else is welcome to, but I'd rather not define it myself other than to say it's melodic, electronic dance music. Defining your sound narrowly only leads to disappointment." ELVIS ANDERSON

Fetishball 2016 – Saturday, September 3 – Club Red
Industrial music and the fetish lifestyle have gone hand-in-PVC-gloved-hand for what seems like ages. It isn’t shocking, considering the genre’s twisted aesthetic, intense nature, and dark deviance lends itself quite well to kinky pursuits, especially those of the BDSM variety. Truth be told, a majority of fetish events (both here in the Valley and elsewhere) have frequently featured industrial or one of its many subgenres. But according to Mark Peskin, a local DJ and co-founder of the Arizona Fetish Society, that doesn’t always have to be the case. “Industrial has definitely been the go-to music of choice for many fetish events,” he says. “But I don't necessarily feel that it has to be the status quo.” Hence the reason why the society’s first-ever event, Fetishball 2016, will showcase a variety of electronic dance music styles in addition to different flavors of industrial. As such, the debaucherous and decadent bacchanal will include gigs by industrial metal bands 3Teeth and Amnestic, dubstep producers Sluggo and Nerd Rage (collectively known as Bass Cadets), and darkwave disco duo The Audio Virus. Tristan/Iseult of HÄXAN will also perform and DJ Sharktopus will spin industrial-pop mashups. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

The Flamin’ Groovies – Sunday, September 4 – Rhythm Room
The Flamin’ Groovies are one of the few bands to establish actual classics across several incarnations and generations. Their Teenage Head album is Stones-y rock & roll that should’ve been huge; their variously re-recorded “Slow Death” is an unkillable proto-punk monster; and then in 1976, they regrouped again around founding guitarist Cyril Jordan and singer-guitarist Chris Wilson and put out the ne plus ultra power-pop song, “Shake Some Action,” quite possibly the very definition of the form. In 2011, Jordan and co-founder Roy Loney did their first West Coast shows since 1984, delivering what amounted to a very-best-of set. These days, however, Jordan, Wilson and a highly capable crew will be performing a variety of hits and favorites from the bands ample discography. Don’t think of it as a reunion — it’s more like a revelation. CHRIS ZIEGLER

Drake - Tuesday, September 6 at Talking Stick Resort Arena
You can take Drake two ways, each yielding wildly different receptions of the Toronto superstar’s work. There’s Drake as a rapper who’s become the target of much censure based on the fact that the dude does not write his own bars. Meek Mill most notably (and publicly) led that charge, though there is also some speculation that the legendary Andre 3000 himself threw some shade in Drake’s direction on Frank Ocean’s new album, Blonde, when he raps, “After 20 years in, I’m so naïve. I was under the impression that everyone wrote they own verses.” On the flip side, there’s Drake the pop star, who performs likable earworms with undeniable dance-ability. He’s the stuff meme dreams are made of and seems to have the wherewithal to go right along with it. It’s that Drake that is most easy with which to reconcile fandom, because we all know we all know the words to “Hotline Bling.” It’s fine. Besides, Drake is joined on this tour with trap rapper Future, which should lend a little bit of cred for those concerned with that sort of thing. HEATHER HOCH

The Game – Tuesday, September 6 – The Pressroom
Back in 2009, rapper The Game was insisting that his 2008 album, L.A.X., was his final one. This wasn’t because of creative differences or a new career, as he told journalist Ben Westhoff. “’Cause, see, you guys don’t need me anymore. You got all these other wack rappers that you love so much.” Well, wack rappers haven’t gone anywhere, and neither has The Game, who has continued making music since his faux-retirement. Last year he released The Documentary 2 and its companion, The Documentary 2.5, both major, star-studded affairs featuring a who’s who of everyone hot in hip-hop — guys like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Kanye West, and more, including older-school guys like Diddy, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube. Pitchfork cynically described the strategy as this: “Hitch the Game to the greatest possible number of bandwagons and hope it moves.” Well, it seems to have worked. The album received positive reviews across the board, and kept The Game in the hip-hop conversation more than a decade after his debut album. DAVID ACCOMAZZO

Purple – Tuesday, September 6 – Valley Bar
If you listen to Beaumont, Texas, trio Purple’s debut album, 409, released last year, you’ll find that Purple’s sound hits you like a bolt of lightning shot out of a Jim Beam bottle with a thunderclap punk-rock chaser. The unlikely bedfellows of garage rock, grunge, country, reggae, and hip-hop genres are not just labels used to impress a wide audience of fans and prick up the ears of critics. Hanna Brewer, fellow founding member guitarist/vocalist Taylor Busby, and bass player Joe “Prankster” Cannariato harness a party-rock sound that cannot be conveniently classified. And more specifically for Brewer, it is a sound borne out of vengeance aimed at the religious zealotry, racial bigotry, and small-town mentality that pervaded the Jefferson County seat in which she was raised — Vidor, Texas. The band just released its sophomore album, Bodacious. MARK C. HORN

Juliette Lewis – Wednesday, September 7 – Livewire
The world needs more wild children. You know the type, right? Free spirits who actually do things. Powerful women and men who, when pushed, push back, and tend to keep pushing the boundaries placed in front of them. Juliette Lewis is such a person. A pusher, for sure, of all things good and crazy and feisty and rockin’. Recently, Lewis has taken to wearing stage garb based on the famous jumpsuit of the 1970s’ most notorious stunt man, and her reasoning behind it is typical Lewis: brash and unapologetic. “I strive to be a blend of a superhero, David Lee Roth, wrestler, a dancer … and then, yes, people like Evel Knievel who defy, no, go against the odds. Whatever gets you in the room, no matter what, you will never be bored at one of my shows,” says Lewis with no small amount of bravado in her voice. As a vocalist, Lewis is much more than just Mallory Knox from Natural Born Killers with a mic in her hand. There are shreds of Janis Joplin in her voice, along with some Courtney Love attitude, and hints of Jim Morrison’s poetic lyrics. TOM REARDON

Fifth Harmony – Thursday, September 8 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
After the end of many great girl groups like the Spice Girls, TLC and Destiny’s Child, there hasn’t been a group of girls that has stolen hearts and put girl groups back at the forefront of pop music. That was true until 2012, anyways, when contemporary R&B girl group Fifth Harmony was formed by – who else? – Simon Cowell on the second season of Fox’s X-Factor. The girls entered the competition separately, but once they were placed together they were an undeniable force. Although the group didn’t win the competition, they were winners in the long run as they signed to both Epic Records and the U.K.’s Syco Records. They subsequently released two EPs in 2013, which tided their fans over until their debut studio album, Reflections, dropped in 2014. The album debuted at No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, reached gold certification and enabled them to headline their first world tour. Not bad for a first album. This year they’re continuing their girl power reign with another tour for their new sophomore album 7/27, so named for the date the group was created. ARIA BELL

A-Trak – Friday, September 9 – Maya Day & Nightclub
Montreal-born DJ and producer A-Trak is perhaps most recently known as one half of Duck Sauce, the disco-house production crew he has formed with Armand Van Helden. Clubbers will instantly recognize their smash singles "Barbara Streisand" and "Big Bad Wolf." But A-Trak also boasts a serious background as a turntablist. And in 2003, he served as Kanye West's personal tour DJ, and has contributed scratches to West's albums Late Registration and Graduation. A-Trak is also an established house producer and elite remixer — check out his club mix of Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Heads Will Roll" — and owner of the record label Fool's Gold. With a keen interest in both hip-hop and electro house he has developed into a prominent figure within the North American dance music scene. TOM MURPHY

5 Seconds of Summer – Saturday, September 10 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
While not the biggest "boy band" in the world, 5 Seconds of Summer is rapidly becoming one of the biggest groups of boys who actually play their instruments onstage. After having visiting Houston a few times opening up for actual biggest "boy band" One Direction, 5SOS get their own headlining show with all the screaming fans that come along with it. Imagine everything you liked about '90s pop-punk — think your Green Days and Blink 182s, with a dash of The Offspring — but cleaned up, polished and completely defanged, and you get 5 Seconds of Summer. Sure, they look like what Hollywood teen films think punk rock is, but their songs aren't bad and they've got good energy onstage. Every generation deserves a Monkees to call their own. CORY GARCIA

Beth Hart – Saturday, September 10 – Livewire
Beth Hart has been a star among industry insiders and hardcore blues maniacs for nearly two decades, but the reason she’s filling mid-size theaters now can be traced back to the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, when Jeff Beck asked her to sing Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” as part of the evening's Buddy Guy tribute. That was pretty much all it took. Besides the instant bump her lights-out performance on national TV gave her — President Obama led the standing ovation — the broadcast’s producer and musical director wound up co-producing Hart’s next album, this year’s deeply personal (she wrote all the songs herself) mixture of high-powered R&B and more intimate singer-songwriter moments, Better Than Home. CHRIS GRAY

Counting Crows & Rob Thomas – Tuesday, September 13 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la. That’s the rallying cry of all drunk-folk guitar-twang music lovers come September 13 when none other than the Counting Crows hit the stage at Ak-Chin Pavilion. They’re in the midst of their current tour with fellow ‘90s favorite Rob Thomas and its going to be something more than awesome when the band digs into big hits like “Mr. Jones,” “Round Here,” “Hangin’ Around,” “Accidentally in Love,” and, of course, its cover of “Big Yellow Taxi.” If you know the band only from the Shrek soundtrack, stop what you’re doing and listen to “August and Everything After.” If you’re a real product of the ’90s, you already know. When it comes to alt-rock and barstool poetry, this is the pinnacle. KAT BEIN

Hall & Oates – Wednesday, September 14 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
Hall & Oates haven’t been in the upper reaches of the charts since the late ’80s, but thanks to sound tracks, television appearances like and younger superstars in their debt — Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke — the 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees are probably as popular now as they’ve ever been. (“Hall & Oates cure illness,” said Roots drummer ?uestlove in his induction speech.) Certainly few acts in pop history have profited more handsomely from their hometown Philadelphia’s super­stylish brand of soul music, nor seen their influence reflected in such an eclectic range of contemporary entertainers. Anyone can go for that. CHRIS GRAY

Ray LaMontagne – Wednesday, September 14 – Comerica Theatre
Although his recorded work sometimes falls into muddled, hazy messes, LaMontagne’s live shows have a magical quality to them. Phoenix may just witness something truly special Saturday night – if they’ll let him. In the past, LaMontagne has humbly, politely asked audiences to remain as quiet as possible and allow him to do his thing. Back in 2014, he famously walked off stage in the middle of a performance, not returning until a couple that wouldn’t stop talking was removed. Here’s hoping the event won't repeat itself here. Especially considering how hushed and psychedelic his latest record, Ouroboros, is, the “Supernova” and “Trouble” singer will demand our full attention. If we give it to him, he will paint the room in warm hues with his lovelorn tunes. You can’t ask for anything more from an artist whose body of work only gets richer with each release. And while this world-weary road poet can be cosmically cool — a calm in the eye of the storm — he’s also prone to turbulent swings of emotion; fingers crossed that the Valley doesn’t get the wrath of Hurricane Ray. ANGEL MELENDEZ

Goblin Cock – Wednesday, September 14 – Valley Bar
The video for Goblin Cock's 2006 song "Stumped" features girl softball players, comic books, and bad special-effects robots — three sure signs that, while the band's music wouldn't be out of place on a mix tape with Sabbath's, these guys aren't your ordinary metal band. This is metal for the ironic indie kids, which isn't really all that surprising, considering Goblin Cock is the brainchild of one of indie rock's crown princes, Pinback's Rob Crow. Crow's known in his San Diego hometown as the man of a thousand bands (including such projects as Thingy, Heavy Vegetable, Sleeping People, Prefuse 73, and Aspects of Physics). Goblin Cock pairs his nerdy penchant for sci-fi and Dungeons & Dragons with a weird phallophilia and a desire to perform in black cloaks. Still, despite the doom-and-gloom chicanery, you can expect more horn-rimmed specs than hair-spray whores when Goblin Cock throws down at Valley Bar. MAYA KROTH
Kraftwerk – Thursday, September 15 – Orpheum Theatre
Kraftwerk's influence on dance music cannot be understated. And more than 30 years later, tracks such as "It's More Fun to Compute" and "Trans-Europe Express" are still DJ favorites to cut and sample with bass and breakbeat sounds, which stand as a testament to the influence of the German electro pioneers. Saying they were simply involved is an understatement. As it stands, Kraftwerk is like a live encyclopedia of the evolution of electronic music. Through ten studio albums and one remix compilation, the band has explored sounds and compositions while touching on topics such as technology, alienation, computer privacy, and nuclear weaponry. And Kraftwerk's music is always evolving. Ralf Hütter, the sole remaining original member of Kraftwerk, completed a remastering of all the band's albums in 2009, adding new depth to the robots' sound.

In 2012, Kraftwerk pushed the presentation of its art further and invited fans to a series of shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for the exhibition "Kraftwerk — Retrospective 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8." Over the course of eight nights, the band played every album, from Autobahn to Tour de France, to sold-out crowds. After the museum stint, Kraftwerk held onto the 3-D concept it introduced at MoMA and went on tour. Thanks to extensive touring the last couple of years, the sight of Hütter and band members Fritz Hilpert, Henning Schmitz, and Falk Grieffenhagen standing stoically behind their computers as a stream of 3-D images are projected behind them as they perform has become as iconic as Daft Punk's pyramid or Deadmau5's headgear. "We are complete 3-D. This is a 3-D concert where the audience will have those paper 3-D glasses. All our visuals, the complete show is in 3-D projections, films, and graphic images and our visual music that we produced at [Kraftwerk’s] Kling Klang Studio." JOSE D. DURAN

The Monkees – Thursday, September 15 – Mesa Arts Center
Hey, hey they’re the Monkees, and it seems as though they’ve been monkeying around. This American rock band has seen numerous reunion tours and albums since splitting (for the first time) in 1971. Trying to follow in the footsteps of the Beatles, the Monkees formed in Los Angeles in 1965, before their American-aired TV show in began running in 1966 — a year later than their British cohorts. In fact, The Monkees TV show only aired for two years, while the Beatles beat them out with an additional year of programming (and plenty of other measurable achievements, we might add). The Monkees revived in 1986 for the recording of "That Was Then, This is Now,” a track that was refused vocal contributions from Davy Jones. They got back together in the '90s to record new music and did a U.S. tour in '97 that preceded another hiatus, this one until 2001. They got back together, again, in 2011 for a world tour but not before cancelling 10 last-minute additional shows due to internal band issues. Jones passed away in 2012 and was soon replaced by Michael Nesmith. The (new) Monkees did a 24-date tour in 2013 and are now coming through Phoenix on their newest tour that began in 2015 in celebration of their 50th Anniversary. SARA BUTTON

Mad Decent Block Party 2016 – Friday, September 16, and Saturday, September 17 – Rawhide
There are many reasons to look forward to this time of year: the weather’s nicer, the days are shorter, and both the nightlife and music scenes tend to get livelier as big-name concert and festival tours roll into the Valley. That includes the annual Mad Decent Block Party, one of more popular and high profile electronic dance music events in the world. This touring spectacle – which showcases tastemaking DJs, artists, and producers associated with the iconic Mad Decent label – lights up more than a dozen cities across the country. And when it’s landed in the Valley the last two years, its brought thousands of EDM fans to Rawhide in Chandler, for one of the biggest and most colorful ragers of the year with a blockbuster lineup curated by Mad Decent founder Diplo. Such is likely to be the case when the Block Party returns to Rawhide this weekend, albeit with a few changes. Namely, the fact that this year’s event will take place over two nights with twice as many artists in the lineup. The weekend-long experience kicks of on Friday, September 16, with performances by Diplo himself, as well as Brillz, Diplo, FKI IST, Jackal, RL Grime, Snakehips, Tchami and What So Not. The following evening on Saturday, September 17, will be just as action-packed and will include gigs by Baauer, Dada Life, Flosstradamus, Grandtheft, Justin Martin, Le Youth and Lil Dicky. Gates open at 5 p.m. both nights. BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN

Prophets of Rage – Saturday, September 17 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
Apparently, former Rage Against the Machine trio Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford love working together. The Prophets of Rage is the third project that has seen the three men combining their considerable musical talents, with just the frontmen switching in and out. While Audioslave threw a curveball by working with Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, the Prophets of Rage, as the name suggests, are far closer to that RATM sound — all intense riffs, dynamic rhythms and razor-sharp, intelligent lyrics courtesy of Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Cypress Hill’s B-Real. While so much about this band is familiar, these two MCs working with Morello, Wilk and Commerford (plus DJ Lord) has resulted in something that, while not groundbreaking, is at least fascinating and should be a thrill at Red Rocks. Electronic-rock band Awolnation will open. BRETT CALLWOOD

Dinosaur Jr. – Monday, September 19 – Crescent Ballroom
Listen, man, guys don't like talking with other hombres about emotions and feelings and self-doubt and all that. I read about it in a men's magazine, in an article written by a male human solely for dude perusal, all right? J Mascis and Lou Barlow, the two songwriters behind legendary indie rock band Dinosaur Jr., broke up in 1989 after years of passive aggressive headbutting, with Mascis forging ahead in Dino for three more records while Barlow performed as Sebadoh and trashed his former bandmate onstage. Thankfully, there was a happy third act. Apparently, all it took to get Dino back together was Mascis' showing up to Sebadoh gigs, where Barlow eventually realized things were cool between them. No big. Since then, the band's stellar post-reunion output, most recently this year's Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, has been a consistent return to blissfully distorted form. Even the slower, more introspective numbers that dot these releases bring the fuzz down only to an even simmer, easily fitting Mascis' yearning croon into a pained whisper-wailing. It goes to show: Just say what's on your mind, bro. CHASE KAMP

Def Leppard – Tuesday, September 20 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
It's time to pull out any ripped or torn attire — and perhaps contemplate either a mullet or some serious man-permed hair — because not only is the quintessential '80s hair-metal bands paying Houston a visit, they're bringing REO Speedwagon and Tesla along. Considering that Def Lep brought us time-tested hits such as "Foolin',” “Love Bites" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me," they could have just made this little concert jaunt solo, but they went and threw on the bands responsible for “Modern Day Cowboy,” “Keep on Loving You,” and “Time for Me to Fly,” making it almost too much ‘80s nostalgia to handle. And for that, we're thankful. ANGELICA LEICHT

Leon Bridges – Tuesday, September 20 – Mesa Arts Center
If Texas soul singer Leon Bridges was a character in a piece of fiction, you’d be forgiven for thinking the author ought to tone it down a bit. Born in Fort Worth, Bridges worked hard to support his mother by washing dishes while he steadily honed his musical craft at open mic nights around the city. He's an impossibly humble guy with an uncanny sense — both music-wise and fashion-wise — for the golden ages of the 1940s, '50s and '60s, which he developed by haunting thrift shops. He hustled for years before it all paid off in the space of about a year, when he was catapulted to fame on the wings of a couple songs before finally making good on his promise by putting out an excellent debut album in the form of Coming Home. Heck, he’s already even made it big in Japan as he performed in the mountains of Yuzawa, Niigata earlier this year. Fortunately, he’s back in the states on his current tour, which swings through the Mesa Arts Center this month. It seems unbelievable, but it’s true. Bridges is the real deal: A humble artist who has earned his fame. ELLIOT WRIGHT

Black Sabbath – Wednesday, September 21 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
Black Sabbath is coming to Phoenix this month for one of its finals shows ever. They’re calling this tour “Black Sabbath: The End” — as in, “This is it, guys.” So if you’ve ever wanted to see the Birmingham, U.K., heavy-metal pioneers, this is your last chance, as in ever — although you never know with Ozzy. Sure, original drummer Bill Ward isn’t involved because of a protracted contract dispute, but after this tour, the chances are slim of seeing Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler and Toni Iommi on stage playing classic tunes like “War Pigs,” “Iron Man,” “Sweet Leaf” and “Paranoid” ever again. Metal music as we know it wouldn’t exist without Sabbath, so get out there and pay your respects. BRETT CALLWOOD

Delta Rae – Thursday, September 22 – Musical Instrument Museum
Warner Bros. vice president Seymour Stein is something of a legend for having been farsighted enough to sign The Ramones, Madonna and Talking Heads. His latest discovery, the North Carolina band Delta Rae, are no less full of commercial potential, even as they sound nothing like his previous protégés. Instead, the coed folk-country-roots band has a pleasingly rustic, easygoing vibe that has won them comparisons to Fleetwood Mac. Unusually, Delta Rae features four different, charismatic singers, and each can raise a chill with eerie, gospel-infused laments such as Brittany Hölljes' fiery "Bottom of the River." Even better is the fact that they have enough confidence in their own songwriting that they can defy the frequent Mac analogies by inviting Lindsey Buckingham himself to guest on their 2014 EP, Chasing Twisters. FALLING JAMES

Blink-182 – Saturday, September 24 – Ak-Chin Pavilion
The only thing weirder than Blink-182 being able to produce a No. 1 album in the country 20 years into their storied career is that Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker pulled it off without co-founder Tom DeLonge. The only thing weirder than that, though, is DeLonge getting squeezed out of the group while he was off pursuing his obsession with aliens. Nonetheless, the legendary pop-punk band is trudging along and deep in the middle of its current tour with Alkaline Trio singer and guitarist Matt Skiba in place of DeLonge. For faithful longtime fans of the perpetually juvenile band, California is a pure representation of their everlasting glory, chock full of high energy anthems and teenage angst despite their age. Post-hardcore outfit A Day to Remember and pop-punkers All Time Low open this three-headed monster of a concert. MIKEL GALICIA

Tegan and Sara – Saturday, September 24 – Livewire
Indie duo Tegan and Sara, identical twin sisters with the surname Quin from Calgary, have toured with their fellow countryman Neil Young and had their track "Walking with a Ghost" covered by The White Stripes. Their connection to their music and each other is clear during their live shows. The openly gay musicians' frank discussions about their childhood, politics, and touring have become a hallmark of their renowned performances. "It started out as a hobby and a fun, passionate way to be creative. It happened to snowball into a really amazing and successful career. We try to be respectful with what we say and how we use our power and try not to use our stage as a soapbox. We are aware of the power we've accumulated because of what we do, but we really try to be socially responsible, great humanitarians, and we try to be great spokespeople for the things we believe in but mostly what we do is try to make music that we're proud of," Tegan says. JASON KEIL

Elizabeth Cook – Sunday, September 25 – Musical Instrument Museum
Flashing a sassy wit and equally brassy voice, Elizabeth Cook established herself as one of country music’s brightest 21st-century talents on 2007’s Balls and 2010’s Welder, where she celebrated loving mullet-wearing dudes even while mining past pain in songs like “Heroin Addict Sister.” Apart from the religious-themed Gospel Plow EP two years later, Cook’s time since then came to resemble “a boxing match with life,” as she told The Wall Street Journal this year. The results of such tribulations are revealed on new album Exodus of Venus (Thirty Tigers), as the Florida native sings “you can fall to pieces some other day” with strong hints of Stevie Nicks on the title track and straight-up kills honky-tonk tunes like “Straitjacket Love.” Even Cook’s many fans, either from her previous albums or Sirius/XM Outlaw Country hosting gig (or both), are likely to be a little taken aback at such a striking artistic leap forward. CHRIS GRAY

Flume – Tuesday, September 27 – Comerica Theatre
Since he first became a household name in the Australian dance scene upon the release of his debut album in 2012, Flume has emerged as the rare electronic producer who can boast both critical and commercial success. Other artists have noticed as well, as Flume has remixed songs by such stars as Sam Smith, Lorde and Disclosure. But his versatile sound extends further, which is how he recruited the likes of AlunaGeorge, Vince Staples, Little Dragon and Beck to appear on his sophomore effort, Skin, which was released in May. If his standout Coachella performance is a sign of things to come, then Flume has a chance to emerge as the next dance producer to make the leap to pop superstar. DANIEL KOHN

Dropkick Murphys – Thursday, September 29 – Marquee Theatre
Like many other seminal punk bands, Celtic-punk icons Dropkick Murphys haven’t grown older in a soft, quiet manner. Similar to Social Distortion, Rancid and fellow stout-flavored screamers Flogging Molly, the Al Barr- and Ken Casey-led group has stayed grizzled, menacing and rather ferocious over the years. Few active bands identify with not only their home region but the working-class ethos the way the pro-labor, politically active group has for so long now. For Boston sports fans, supporting Dropkick Murphys is as automatic as supporting the Sox or the Celtics. Similar to how many New York-based artists repped their hometown after the 9/11 attacks, the Murphys' music and charitable relief efforts were vital to thousands of Bostonians troubled by the Marathon bombings of 2013. As much as any other band hitting the roads these days, the Murphys take the beating heart of its hometown to every gig, no matter where it is. KELLY DEARMORE

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