From heavy metal heroes to a music legend's fabulous farewell, it's all happening this month
1. Sleep at Commodore Ballroom – Monday, September 2
Facebook/SleepUltimate stoner-metal stalwarts Sleep are slated to light up the Commodore’s September season with all the distorted, down-tuned dissonance you can handle. San Jose’s most revered trio of doom are set to arrive with their Black Sabbath-alluded 2018 spinner, The Sciences, in tow, and if there’s ever been an excellent excuse to wallow in the darkest depths, this is it. Often considered “the greatest stoner doom band of all time,” this outfit works very hard to come across as a bunch of guys that don’t work very hard at all. But don’t let that repetitive element fool you, it’s all deliberately designed to put you in a state of extreme laid-backness, and I firmly believe we could all use a modicum of that in our day-to-day.
Tickets from $53
2. Iron Maiden at Rogers Arena – Tuesday, September 3
Facebook/Iron MaidenThe most consistently awesome titans of the NWOBHM (for the uninitiated, that’s “New Wave of British Heavy Metal”), Iron Maiden brings their Legacy of the Beast Tour to Rogers Arena for one night only. Let me tell you the difference between these guys that’ve been doing this road warrior thing for over 40 years and their contemporaries: they’ll give you a fresh show, every… single… tour. Unlike some other bands of their era (which will go unnamed, but perhaps might rhyme with something like, I don’t know, Jeff Shepherd?), they will not regurgitate the same onstage banter from 15 years ago, they will not reuse their stage backdrops from over the past decade, and they will not recycle the same ’80s setlist ad nauseam. Cap that with the undeniable fact their fearless frontman, Bruce Dickinson, is not only an exceptional vocalist with a four-octave range, he’s also a champion fencer, respected professor of history, accomplished author, amiable radio and television host, energetic motivational speaker, inventive brewmaster, professional commercial airline pilot, and best of all… cancer survivor. If you love yourself a heavy dose of some authentic British metal, do not – I repeat – do not miss this show. Otherwise, you will feel very sad when all your friends tell you about it the next day, and you don’t want that.
Tickets from $113.75
3. Death Cab For Cutie at Malkin Bowl – Thursday, September 5
Facebook/Death Cab for CutieFor some of us (okay, well, for me anyway), Bellingham means cheaper gas, Ross Dress for Less, Trader Joe’s, The Local and—until quite recently—Avalon Records (damn fire!). But to the international music community, Bellingham is the birthplace of indie-pop darlings Death Cab for Cutie. If you couldn’t make it out to their benefit concert (co-headlined by B-hamster compatriots, Odesza) out at the town’s Civic Stadium this past May, here’s your chance to catch the PNW’s princes of introspective heartache without digging that Nexus card out of your wallet and enduring that cavity search at the border. All you have to do is get yourself out to Stanley Park, which, yeah, I guess that’s sometimes almost as tough. Whatevs. If you truly want to get all your dreamy yearning in motion, you’ll just have to do whatever you have to do.
Tickets from $77
4. Bon Iver at Pacific Coliseum – Saturday, September 7
Facebook/Bon IverI’ll admit, I’m one of those uncultured oafs who stumbled upon the band name Bon Iver and went ahead and figured it was pronounced “bawn eye-vurr.” I assumed it was not unlike Bon Jovi (who was not exactly the “French singing sensation” my sister’s best friend thought he was back in the day). Man, I was clearly not using the pretentious portion of my grey matter on that one. Turns out this particular pronunciation is actually supposed to be en Français, you know, “baahhnn eee-vehhrr,” like “good winter.” Well, excuse the hell out of me! Who would’ve thought an indie group from Wisconsin could come across so bougie? Once again, it doesn’t matter what I think, especially considering they were impressive (i.e.: safe) enough to get two Grammys thrown at them in 2012. Well, good for them. At any rate, the Pacific Coliseum needs to host some sort of event now that the PNE is done for this year and they have no hockey or Reveen or Super Dogs in there anymore. So—zut alors!—grab your beret and get all bon vivant on this thing.
Tickets from $40.05
5. Gary Clark Jr. at Malkin Bowl – Tuesday, September 10
Facebook/Gary Clark Jr.Often compared to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Clark Jr. is no slouch when it comes to some serious axe-slinging and soulful vocalizing. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Clark is also no stranger to the power of that city’s blues and rock scene. So much so, he’s been gigging since the tender age of 12. I’m not sure what you were doing at that age, but if you were like me, I’m guessing it wasn’t anything half as cool. The lifetime of hard work has surely paid off as he retains his fair share of pretty high-profile fans on his side, including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and the Foo Fighters (who have all found ways to employ this man’s skills as a stellar opener). If there’s ever been a great reason to combine the summer's final days of sunshine with some superior blues at Stanley Park’s premium outdoor venue, this is definitely it.
Tickets from $81.15
6. Westward Music Festival at various venues – Thursday, September 12 to Sunday, September 15
Facebook/Westward Music FestivalIf you were hoping to hit a festival this summer and you’re feeling a little bit bummed about Woodstock being cancelled last month, I’ve got a way better idea for you. (Never mind baffling logistics and lack of a genuine venue, you have to question the wisdom of a promoter who thought it would be fun to book Greta Van Fleet on the same bill as Robert Plant. SMH.) If you’re itching to attend a legit event that showcases multiple genres and features critically acclaimed artists on the verge of really big things, then Westward Music Festival is exactly where you should be. Multiple venues, including The Vogue, The Rickshaw, The Imperial and others, will play host to a varied selection of artists, from Illinois indie-folk sensation Lissie to New York rapper Leikeli47 to VanCity’s own psych-stoner-prog dudes Black Mountain, and so many more artists to name, but I can’t because I have a word count to hold to here. Individual events are generally cheap enough, but do yourself a favour and just get a wristband so you can go wherever your music-starved heart takes you over the course of the four-day event.
Tickets from $20.30, with wristbands from $121.80
7. Ghost at Pacific Coliseum – Friday, September 20
Facebook/Ghost I’ve faced some pretty harsh criticism from my friends for calling Ghost the “Nickelback of heavy metal.” First of all, I didn’t coin the nickname, so don’t shoot the messenger. Secondly, it’s not exactly an untrue statement, but I’ll get back to that in a moment. While it’s certainly fact that this Swedish outfit is trying their damnedest to come off as controversial and mysterious (they go so far as to list their members as “Nameless Ghouls", how special), I’m just not buying the shtick. And that’s the thing: the shtick! This whole demonic character thing, it’s really no different from Alice Cooper enlisting the use of a guillotine in his act the last 172 years. It gets boring and predictable. But back to the Nickelback thing, have you listened to any of Ghost’s albums? Particularly their latest, Prequelle. At first run-through, it sounds like a pretty solid hard rock record, right? Okay, well, think about this: you already know all the words. You would think that’s a good thing? Actually, no, it’s not a good thing. Why is that? Because the whole shebang is a carefully dissected formula. It’s basically… well… this is how you remind me. Look, I’m not trying to dissuade anybody from actually leaving the house to check out some live music. But if you walk out of that barn at the end of the night whistling the tune to “Rats,” I’ll look forward to your comments.
Tickets from $53.95
8. Cancer Bats at Rickshaw Theatre – Friday, September 20
Facebook/Cancer BatsIf there was ever any doubt that punk rock is still alive and kicking in the 21st century, Cancer Bats prove all the naysayers wrong. Toronto’s own hardcore-sludge-punkers have been honing their relentless intensity for the past 15 years, garnering four Juno nominations and touring this nation from coast to coast, as well as hitting pretty much every major metal festival in the U.S. and U.K. Adding to their exhausting road schedule, they’ve somehow managed to release six full-length studio albums and seven EPs. At some point in 2011, they even found the time to run a full tour as a Black Sabbath cover band (that seems to be a popular thing to do these days, and I’m sure it keeps Sharon Osbourne’s lawyers busy). Suffice to say, these are some busy guys. Bottom line: if you’re feeling a little lethargic on a Friday night, remind yourself that Cancer Bats have likely not slept since 2004, so stop being so lazy, get your butt off the sofa, and get yourself out to the Rickshaw.
9. Elton John at Rogers Arena – Saturday, September 21, Sunday, September 22 and Tuesday, September 24
Facebook/Elton JohnI feel like I need to preface this article by stating my admiration for Elton John goes all the way back to the glitter and glamour of the ’70s when I was also a bespectacled young music nerd (although I should point out that particular fact has not changed… except for the “young” part). It’s important to set that statement so you can understand my respect for the man before I ask why–for the love of humanity–why did he feel the need to allow that omnium-gatherum of historical inaccuracies to take place in his Rocketman film? Granted, Taron Egerton is a formidable actor and singer, and he played that role with grace and aplomb. But the film itself is riddled with lies and anachronisms. It’s a biopic that was signed off by the dude himself, but—for some bizarre reason—he thought it would be better form to attribute his name change to a Beatle instead of a blues legend. Then he walks into a late ’60s audition, performing songs that would not have been written for another 15 years or so. Why? It doesn’t make for a better story, Reggie! That said, the guy still puts on the most fabulous of fabulous live shows, so really, I guess you can just avoid the movie and get out to see the real thing. It’ll be tough, though, because all three concerts have been sold out for the better part of a year, but there’s always a resale to be had. You’ll see me there on Saturday, because it’s alright for fighting. Yep, still a nerd. I’ll be the one wearing glasses and an Elton John t-shirt. Make sure you stop and say hello.
Resale tickets from $238; Saturday; Sunday; Tuesday
10. Periphery at Rickshaw Theatre – Thursday, September 26
Facebook/PeripheryIt’s not hyperbole to cast Periphery as one of the foremost pioneers of the djent movement within the progressive metalcore genre. If you’re looking to listen to some technical complexity inside a layer of polyphonic groove, this will definitely be your thing, and D.C.’s masters of the technique will be more than happy to oblige with their Grammy-nominated proficiency. Also interesting to note is the band’s ability to market themselves, not only with their well-crafted merch and recorded works encompassing two EPs and six full-length albums in their arsenal (including 2018’s Hail Stan, which took a full year to craft), but they also offer a full line of professional gear on their website. Because, yes, you need a seven-string guitar. It’s one more string, isn’t it? It’s not six. You’re on six on your guitar, where can you go from there? Put it up to seven. Seven. Exactly. One more.
Tickets from $47.85