There are plenty of
big-news, top-dollar events on the pop music calendar this fall, including
new albums and tours by rock legends the Rolling Stones (who return to
Chicago to perform at the United Center on Jan. 23 and 25 after Saturday
night's show at Soldier Field) and Paul McCartney (who plays the United
Center on Oct. 18-19).
Even more exciting is
Kanye West's promised "GOOD Music Tour," which will find him supporting his
excellent new album, "Late Registration," by headlining over and hopefully
collaborating with proteges John Legend and Common. (Dates have not yet been
Less hyped but just
as anticipated are two shows on Sept. 21 and 22 at House of Blues, 329 N.
Dearborn, by the John Mayer Trio, the new band that finds the Grammy-winning
singer and songwriter fronting a session-pros supergroup featuring drummer
Steve Jordan (Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow, Keith Richards) and bassist Pino
Palladino (the Who, Jeff Beck).
"I'm gonna go out in
the fall with the trio and just play," Mayer promised Rolling Stone. "Power-rockin',
electric-guitar, in-your-face blues."
This is good news
indeed, and a cause for hope that the Connecticut-born artist, who turns 28
on Oct. 16, will reconnect with the muse that inspired his first and best
album. His 1999 debut "Inside Out" was a rootsy, bluesy effort, which
preceded the multiplatinum success that greeted his more acoustic, Dave
Matthews-flavored discs for Chicago-based Columbia Records subsidiary Aware,
2001's "Room for Squares" and last year's "Heavier Things."
The voice that
brought us "Your Body Is a Wonderland" has been ubiquitous since that
breakthrough success, guesting on Eric Clapton's new album, "Back Home," and
Herbie Hancock's disc "Possibilities," as well as lending his talents to
recordings by Common, Kanye West, Rob Thomas, B.B. King and Chicago blues
giant Buddy Guy. (Mayer is nothing if not versatile.) But while he embraces
his unexpected status as a pop star, he maintains that he longs to return to
"I would feel like
I'm not making the most of my life if I don't take this success and turn it
into other opportunities," Mayer told Billboard. These include jamming out
with the new trio, which will perform a mix of covers and original material,
and which plans to release a live album later this fall.
Meanwhile, Mayer is
also working on his next studio album, titled "Continuum" and due early in
2006. He promises that it will have a much earthier "Sam Cooke vibe," and
says that his new sounds are strongly influenced by the trio, which is also
joining him for this recording.
*The Hideout Block
Party, Friday and Saturday, 1354 W. Wabansia: Chicago's favorite hole in the
wall throws a great bash every fall, but this year it's outdone itself. The
lineup includes Freakwater, Kelly Hogan and Nora O'Connor, and a rare gig by
Chicago's Eleventh Dream Day, but the best news is the Sept. 17 reunion by
power-pop legends the dB's. The donation is $10 per day; for details, visit
*Neil Young, "Prairie
Wind" (Sept. 27) and Farm Aid (Sept. 18): As everyone's favorite Canadian
rock legend prepares to drop a gorgeous, mostly acoustic new album, he'll be
one of the highlights at Farm Aid, which comes to the Tweeter Center on
Sept. 18 and also features Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and
Wilco. Tickets are $30 to $85 through Ticketmaster, (312) 559-1212.
*The Arcade Fire,
Riviera Theatre, Sept. 28: After stealing the show at Lollapalooza, these
Montreal-based orchestral popsters return for a much more intimate
performance at one of Chicago's best-sounding venues. Wolf Parade and the
Bell Orchestre open the sold-out show.
"You Could Have It So Much Better" (Oct. 4) and the Aragon Ballroom (Sept.
20): With their self-titled debut, these English New Wave revivalists
claimed one of the best albums of 2004. Gearing up for their second album
next month, they're performing with Pretty Girls Make Graves and Cut Copy.
Tickets are $30 through Ticketmaster.
*Nine Inch Nails and
Queens of the Stone Age, Allstate Arena, Oct. 7: This inspired double bill
pairs Trent Reznor and friends, who remain one of the most inventive acts
industrial rock has ever produced, and the Queens, a consistently fun
stoner-rock high. Tickets are $42.50 or $47.50 through Ticketmaster.
Metro, Oct. 18 and 19: With their recent album "Picaresque," the
Decemberists crafted a new ork-pop gem as strong as the Arcade Fire's
"Funeral." They headline two nights at Metro with opener Cass McCombs.
Tickets are $18.50 at the box office, 3730 N. Clark.
Pornographers, Metro, Oct. 20: On the recent "Twin Cinema," the much-hyped
supergroup (which boasts Chicagoans Neko Case and Nora O'Connor on vocals)
finally made an album that lives up to the hype. Destroyer and Immaculate
Machine open, and tickets are $18.
*Gwen Stefani and the
Black Eyed Peas, Allstate Arena, Oct. 28: Call it a guilty pop pleasure
twice over, but the pairing of the Hollaback Girl and humps-happy Peas
frontwoman Fergie is sure to be a stone-cold groove. Tickets are $37.50 to
$65 through Ticketmaster.
*Flower 15 Music
Festival, Metro, Nov. 8-15: The most respected talent agency in underground
music, Chicago's Flower Booking celebrates its 15th anniversary with a
series of shows featuring Pelican, Local H, Jimmy Eat World, Ted Leo & the
Pharmacists and reunions by the Promise Ring and the Smoking Popes. Tickets
are available for $15 to $18 through www.flower15.com.
*System of a Down,
"Hypnotize" (Nov. 15) and the Allstate Arena (Sept. 30): A few weeks before
the insanely energetic, genre-hopping, unexpectedly platinum-selling art
rockers release part two of their double album, they headline an exciting
arena tour with the Mars Volta and Hella. Tickets are $32.50 to $45 through