From a visit with Donald Glover's alter ego to an Aussie's emotional angst, it's all happening this month
1. Portugal. The Man & Broken Social Scene at Deer Lake Park – Saturday, September 1
Facebook/Portugal The ManIt’s tough to be from Wasilla, Alaska when the city's most (in)famous citizen claims she can see Russia from her house. As such, the wisest thing Portugal. The Man ever did was pack up their instruments and create some distance by heading to the relative awesomeness of Portland, Oregon. The move proved to pay off mightily as the alt-rock sextet managed to scoop up a Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Grammy this year for their unbelievably catchy earworm, “Feel It Still.” Confession: even I happen to like that song and I admittedly don’t pay too much credence to contemporary pop. Don’t let the final long weekend of the summer go to waste when you can head to the park to catch these guys with Toronto’s very own indie-rockers Broken Social Scene in the opening slot.
2. The Sheepdogs at Malkin Bowl – Saturday, September 1
Facebook/The SheepdogsWhat’s that you say? You never had the chance to see The Guess Who in concert back when they were an actual deal? Well, now you can knock yourself out and pretend The Sheepdogs are the real thing. No? Okay, then how about pretending these guys are new and innovative? I mean, somebody had to think so when they inexplicably appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone back in 2011 in the publication’s “Choose the Cover” competition. But I guess there are worse things out there, so it might just be a decent enough reason to get yourself out to Stanley Park this long weekend–if only because it’s Stanley Park.
3. Cyndi Lauper at PNE Amphitheatre – Monday, September 3
Cyndi LauperWait, Cyndi Lauper is 65 years old? That simply cannot be true! How is it that this unusual singer/songwriter/actress/activist is now officially considered a senior? I don’t believe it. But considering the ever-youthful Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner has been slogging it out in show biz for over 40 years, I guess we have to resign ourselves to doing the math and confronting the fact that none of us are actually getting any younger. Join Cyndi as she closes out the 2018 season of the PNE’s Summer Nights Concerts. Get to the grounds early to play fetch with the SuperDogs, eat your fill of mini donuts, and perhaps win a house or a car! Even if you can’t make it out to the show, be sure to check out her website where she features her super rad clothing line, Touch of Cyn (sold through HSN). Very cool stuff. There goes my MasterCard.
4. Gov’t Mule at Commodore Ballroom – Tuesday, September 4
Facebook/Govt MuleWhen Gov’t Mule co-founders Warren Haynes and Allen Woody decided to form a side project from their fill-in stint in The Allman Brothers Band, they made a conscious decision to take things just a little further than their employer’s Southern rock roots. Sharing a mutual appreciation for 1960s power trios Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, the duo took on drummer Matt Abts to create their own unique three-piece outfit. The outcome warranted a stellar mix of Southern, psychedelic and blues, and it was indeed quite different from everything else coming out of the mid-’90s musical landscape. Unfortunately, Allen Woody passed away back in 2000, but the band continued on, even releasing a tribute album employing many of the bassist’s own favourite four-string masters–most notably Jack Bruce and John Entwistle. These days, the group is a four-piece and they’re still going strong. Don’t miss this opportunity to catch what will likely be a powerful night of tuneage in VanCity’s most fabulous venue.
5. Skookum Festival at Stanley Park – Friday, September 7 to Sunday, September 9
Facebook/Florence and the MachineMere minutes from the downtown core, the Skookum Festival will rock the beauty of Stanley Park for a full three days of music, creativity and culinary excellence. This inaugural event hosts an eclectic lineup of performers, featuring The Killers, Florence + The Machine, The War on Drugs, Father John Misty, Blue Rodeo, Greta Van Fleet (scroll back up to read my Sheepdogs preview and insert “Greta Van Fleet” where it says “The Sheepdogs” and “Led Zeppelin” where it says “The Guess Who”), and a whole whack of others. There will be live art and multimedia exhibits as far as the eye can see, food vendors for every discerning palate, and a vast selection of libations from B.C.’s best wineries, distilleries and breweries. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a pretty awesome excuse to take in the splendour of our city’s most extraordinary green space.
Single-day passes from $139
6. Foo Fighters at Rogers Arena – Saturday, September 8
Facebook/Foo FightersFor whatever reason, it has come upon the Foo Fighters to save rock and roll. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the Foos from time to time, but there’s something inherently wrong with an industry that continues to wax more than just a little too much praise upon a band that can best be described as “hmm… pretty good.” I’m not at all saying they’re a bad band as I do own their CDs and I have seen them live on several occasions. I’m just saying I’m having a hard time understanding why they continue to win award after award for putting out some pretty middle-of-the-road material as of late. Case in point: the incredibly banal “Run” (the first single from 2017’s atrociously-produced snoozer Concrete and Gold) won the Grammy for Best Rock Song. Really? That’s the best they could do? See, that’s what happens when the Recording Academy is called upon to come up with a list of nominees, “Yeah, we’ve heard of Foo Fighters. They’re a rock band, right? Let’s just go with them again. Nobody will notice we keep throwing their name in the hat.” They’ve even managed to win awards in the metal category. Yes, I said metal. Sure. Well, whatever, I guess. They actually do put on a thoroughly entertaining live show, and Dave Grohl works exceedingly hard to ensure he endears himself to the masses, so you can go with that.
Tickets from $73
7. Wardruna at Vogue Theatre – Tuesday, September 18
Facebook/WardrunaFor the past 15 years, Wardruna has been fiercely entrenched in the creation of brooding, atmospheric music based on ancient Norwegian culture, Old Norse language and the Elder Futhark runic alphabet. This unique outfit labours tirelessly to blend elements of folk, world and ambient, but manages to transcend all of these genres. To fully experience the band’s unwavering dedication to the craft, I recommend you immerse yourself in one of their live performances, featuring historical and primitive instruments along with non-traditional sound sources such as rocks, water and torches. Taking all of this hard work into account, it comes as no surprise the group was asked to compose the score for the second season of the History series Vikings (in which founder Einar Selvik also appeared as an actor). Shockingly, tickets are still available for this event–one that is sure to provide indelible memories for years to come.
Tickets from $37.50
8. Keith Urban at Rogers Arena – Tuesday, September 25
Facebook/Keith UrbanHave I ever mentioned I’m simply not a fan of contemporary country music? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve established that particular point on more than one occasion. I do, however, like Keith Urban. Perhaps I should clarify that statement: I like Keith Urban, the person. His music, on the other hand… hmm… not so much. The affable Australian seems genuinely cool, friendly and funny–and let’s not forget his trademark “shoulder rolls” when he was tasked as an American Idol judge (for the record, his legendary bromance with Harry Connick Jr. offered far more entertainment value than the contestants could ever hope to provide). But this contemporary country thing? Sorry, I just don’t get it. I still think it’s pop, but with the occasional guitar twang thrown in for good measure. That’s how I see it. But my opinion shouldn’t dissuade you from scooping up a ticket for what I’m sure will be a smashingly entertaining evening featuring the genre’s most photogenic citizen.
Tickets from $79.05
9. Amy Shark at Imperial – Tuesday, September 25
Facebook/Amy Shark MusicSeptember 25th will be a particularly welcoming night for Australians in our city, as Oz’s indie-pop sensation Amy Shark is set to take the stage at Chinatown’s most stylish venue. Often angst-ridden and sullen, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter’s first full-length release, the critically acclaimed Love Monster, will likely provide the basis of the evening’s performance, along with dips into her previous EP, Night Thinker, featuring her best-known single, “Adore.” Don’t miss out on this chance to experience an intimate performance from this up-and-coming artist before she becomes too big for small stages.
10. Childish Gambino at Rogers Arena – Sunday, September 30
Facebook/Donald GloverTo say Donald Glover is simply “on a tear” as of late seems like such a major understatement. His FX series, Atlanta, is racking up impressive ratings and accolades; his film career is heating up both the Spider-Man and Star Wars franchises; and his outing as hip-hop alter ego Childish Gambino is nothing short of extraordinary. If you have been living under a rock and you haven’t checked out his controversial and politically charged video “This Is America,” get yourself onto YouTube now to see what all the fuss is about. This guy is so popular right at this particular moment in time, I honestly cannot believe tickets are still available for this concert. So don't sit on this for too long.
Tickets from $111.20