Fall is here, the seasonal cool-down that truly provides excitement and an abundance of opportunities for live music fans to see their favorite performers. This fall is no exception.
In fact, this year is likely the most abundant fall music season since before the pandemic, with artists from every genre imaginable and every generation making a tour stop in the city. Unlike the summer music season, which often focuses on major stadium and arena touring acts, the fall season allows local, emerging and larger acts to mingle on our bigger and smaller stages.
CHAI: Don’t let their charming name and pink aesthetics fool you. Japanese band CHAI is a formidable group making genre-bending new classics. Blending elements of experimental pop, dance and punk, the musicians of CHAI have set themselves apart by not being afraid to carve out a brand of music that pushes against — rather than conforms to — expectations. On their newest self-titled record, released this month, CHAI has incorporated more elements of funk, post-punk and mutant disco on tracks like “NEO KAWAII, K?” and “PARA PARA” proving this four-piece is never afraid to surprise and delight listeners. 8 p.m. Oct. 2 at Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport St.; tickets $25-$270 (ages 17+) at ticketweb.com
Slowdive: In 2017, Slowdive effortlessly returned to the music scene after a 22-year hiatus with a self-titled record featuring updated touches to their signature ambient, dream-pop sound. Now, after another long break, the band has released their latest record, “everything is alive.” Experimental and shimmery, this album packs a lush and enigmatic punch. Don’t take their latest releases and live shows for granted. Who knows when this influential band will be back in town? 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Ave.; tickets $67-$223 at ticketmaster.com
Jessie Ware: Pre-pandemic, British vocalist Jessie Ware was more known for her slow, sometimes somber-sounding but always romance-fueled ballads. Of course, longtime fans knew this downtempo sound was not the total embodiment of her musical background. But very rarely did Ware step outside of those boundaries. Thankfully, the pandemic saw Ware dramatically shift into sights and sounds more reminiscent of her underground and dance-oriented origins. The one-two punch of her masterful albums, “What’s Your Pleasure?” and “That! Feels Good!,” proves Ware has much more up her sleeves. In the case of her latest album, that means house, disco and lots of upbeat sounds to keep audiences moving. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at Vic Theater, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave.; $122-$394; ticketmaster.com
Yeule: Although Singaporean singer-songwriter and producer Nat Ćmiel, who performs as Yeule, has released numerous solo albums, it was her 2022 release, “Glitch Princess,” that proved to be her breakthrough. While her music is often classified as pop, Yeule traverses numerous underground aesthetics and sounds, including seapunk and witch house. At its core, Yeule’s sound is raw, melodic and futuristic, despite its sometimes-abrasive outer essence. This month, she released her latest album, “softscars,” which features the artist’s light and gentle vocals paired more heavily with alternative and indie rock instrumentation. 8 p.m. Oct. 10 at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St.; tickets $26-$31 (ages 18+) at metrochicago.com
Reneé Rapp and Alexander 23: Actress and Broadway star Reneé Rapp took a risk by leaving her successful Max television show, “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” to embark on a solo career. But her efforts were not futile. Rapp had already proved her songwriting chops with the release of her debut EP, “Everything to Everyone,” which featured a number of tracks that went viral on TikTok. And then there’s that whole thing about being the star of the Broadway show “Mean Girls: The Musical” as a teenager. Powerhouse vocals and charismatic showmanship peppered with a signature Gen Z attitude have made Rapp successful at an early age, and it is those same attributes that have made her debut album, “Snow Angel,” a success. Catch her here in all of her pop glory. Deerfield native Alexander 23, who has done production work for some of Rapp’s music, opens. 8 p.m. Oct. 11 at Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave.; tickets $89 (17+) at livenation.com
Raphael Saadiq and Tony! Toni! Toné!: The music world post-pandemic has been a perfect time for beloved acts of the distant and near-past to reunite. Tony! Toni! Toné! is no exception. The popular ‘90s R&B and new jack swing group is set to embark on its first tour in more than 25 years. The event also marks the 30th anniversary of their third album, “Sons of Soul,” which featured crossover hits like “Anniversary” and “(Lay Your Head On My) Pillow.” Band member Raphael Saadiq — a formidable performer and producer in his own right — will also hit the stage both for his own works (from his solo career and his collaborations with groups like Lucy Pearl) and as a part of Tony! Toni! Toné!. Longtime fans should not miss this seemingly once-in-a-lifetime experience. 8 p.m. Oct. 12 at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St.; tickets $63-$250 at ticketmaster.com
Victoria Monét: After more than a decade of success in the background crafting songs for other artists like Fifth Harmony and, most notably, Ariana Grande, Victoria Monét is ready to step out of the shadows. Her emergence as a dynamic solo artist of her own began in 2020 with the release of her masterpiece EP, titled “Jaguar.” Blending elements of groove-heavy contemporary R&B with effervescent pop, Monet proved the most interesting artists are always willing to craft something that pushes against the mainstream sounds of the day. On her debut solo album, “Jaguar II,” Monét continues to experiment, this time adding elements of ‘70s funk and soul (including a collaboration with the beloved Earth, Wind and Fire) with her sharp songwriting and eclectic orchestral arrangements. A triple threat — she sings, writes and dances better than nearly any other artist — Monét is sure to reach new superstar heights this year. 7 p.m. Oct. 22 at House of Blues Chicago, 329 N. Dearborn St.; tickets $110 (17+) at livenation.com
Liz Phair: Musically, Liz Phair has gone through a couple of sonic iterations. Her most famous and influential, surrounding the release of her debut album, “Exile in Guyville,” will be celebrated as part of her latest tour, appropriately titled the “Guyville Tour.” As part of this cross-country series of shows, Phair will perform her masterpiece album debut in its entirety as well as additional fan favorites. A truly cross-generational and underrated icon, witnessing Phair in such a unique live show setting should make for a special concert experience. 8 p.m. Nov. 18 at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St.; tickets $69.50 at ticketmaster.com
Ms. Lauryn Hill and the Fugees: You are not wrong to feel weary about a Lauryn Hill concert. Past live shows have shown how Hill is not the most reliable performer, particularly when it comes to taking the stage at a reasonable hour. However, this critic saw Hill earlier this year at the Ravinia Festival and was effectively blown away by both her showmanship and the effortless construction of her live show. With a robust and lively band accompanying her, Hill breezed through her iconic debut album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” and dazzled audiences. Hill will likely continue to delight concertgoers with this latest series of shows in celebration of her debut album’s 25th anniversary. The Fugees, Hill’s original rap group that introduced the star to the world through hits like “Ready or Not” and “Killing Me Softly” will also play during this sure-to-be memorable show. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28, United Center, 1901 W. Madison St.; tickets $55.50-$1,515.50 at ticketmaster.com
Doja Cat/Ice Spice: In another world, Doja Cat and Ice Spice would have musically aligned this year in the same vein of infectious, radio-friendly, pop-rap music. But as of late, Doja Cat has stepped out of the norm, both musically and visually. It’s been something of a public struggle for Doja Cat, who has actively antagonized fans who first clamored for the singer off the success of singles like “Kiss Me More” and “Woman” from her last studio album. But fans who have been listening to her music since before she crossed over to the mainstream and racked up Grammy Awards will still find much to enjoy in her latest singles, which focus more on kinetic flow than keen melodies. Ice Spice, a rising star making light and rhythmically kitschy rap music with collaborators like Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift, opens. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 at the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St.; tickets $105-$1,750 at ticketmaster.com
Britt Julious is a freelance critic.