This fall, the Bay Area concert calendar is packed with music festivals, tours from all-time greats and club appearances from notable up-and-comers. Whether you're nostalgic for hyphy, craving a rave or need a soul-cleansing night of protest anthems, we've got you covered with our selective list of shows not to miss this season. Stay tuned for our jazz and classical preview later this week.
Rolling Loud, the traveling rap festival, comes to the Bay Area for the second year in a row, bringing a solid mix of local and national talent to Oakland's Oracle Arena. This festival is all about street and party rap, booking underground favorites alongside established major label signees. E-40, Kamaiyah, Mozzy, Noni Blanco, ALLBLACK and Saweetie are just a few of the artists representing Northern California, while Wiz Khalifa and Travis Scott headline. Gucci Mane, one of the architects of modern-day trap music, also appears, alongside next-generation trap artists like Lil Uzi Vert and Playboy Carti.
Devonté Hynes originally gained attention as a producer for indie-pop favorites Solange and Sky Ferreira before rising to major acclaim as a solo artist. As Blood Orange, his soulful tracks, with '80s power-ballad drums and funky bass lines, stem from the lineages of Prince and Sade. Blood Orange brings a decisively melancholy overtone to his compositions; his latest album, Negro Swan, is a highly personal project that deals with coming to terms with being different. He's also a Bay Area favorite. When he opened for Grace Jones at the Greek Theater in 2016, he paid homage to Terrence McCrary, a.k.a TMACK, an artist and well-loved member of the creative community who was killed in a shooting.
Los Tigres del Norte are practically synonymous with Mexican norteño music. Led by three brothers originally from Mexico, the band was founded in San Jose, where they perform in September with Mexican singer Alexandro Fernández, son of the great balladeer Vicente Fernández. With several generations of fans, Los Tigres have leveraged their fame to make powerful political statements. Most recently, they performed at Folsom State Prison in an act of solidarity with incarcerated people; prior to that, their song "Paisano a Paisano" told the stories of undocumented farm workers who toil in the fields as their bosses reap the riches.
Nostalgic for the hyphy movement? DMP Music Festival, a new event in its first year, is the place to go stupid. The Pack, Lil B's rap group responsible for songs like "Vans" and "Booty Bounce Boppa," reunites for this event. Joining them on the bill is Vallejo rap prodigy Nef the Pharaoh, along with D-Lo, the North Oakland rapper whose 2009 song "No Hoe" still puts dance floors in a frenzy nearly 10 years later. Stunna shades and tall tees not required.
Giorgio Moroder is the reason why half of the music on the radio sounds the way it does. Known as the father of disco and grandfather of house, the Italian producer helped popularize the synthesizer as a staple instrument of popular music, working with Donna Summer, Blondie, David Bowie, Daft Punk and many more. At 78 years old, he's still touring and creating, and is considered the oldest DJ in the world. A true living legend.
Jay Z may have spat some bars about financial literacy recently, but Beyoncé is the true star of her and her husband's On the Run II tour. As we saw with her Coachella performance, her live show is a larger-than-life, dazzling showcase that celebrates black family, femininity, love, creativity and resistance. Beyoncé and Jay Z's latest album, Everything is Love, which they released as The Carters, is a jubilant victory lap that celebrates America's first family of pop.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass has become a San Francisco tradition over the past 18 years, and best of all, it's free. The fest books mostly bluegrass, folk and country acts, but there are also usually surprises from other genres (past years have featured MC Hammer and Big Freedia). The 2018 lineup includes over 80 acts on six stages; notable artists to look out for include singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco, Chicano rockers Los Lobos, Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and lots more.
After skipping a year in 2017, Treasure Island is back—this time across the bay in West Oakland's Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Headliners this year include "L$D" rapper A$AP Rocky and psych rockers Tame Impala. Pusha T, who recently made a comeback on Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music after his infamous beef with Drake, will also be there, as well as Courtney Barnett and Soccer Mommy, two of the most interesting indie rock singer-songwriters to come out in years.
Nov. 11, Weill Hall, Ronhert Park
Nov. 15, The Masonic, San Francisco
Nov. 16–17, Fox Theater, Oakland.
Joan Baez—need I say more? The folk great and activist will be making her rounds through Northern California in November with four sold-out concerts. (At press time, tickets are still available on the secondary market starting in the $70 range.) Baez has used her voice to stand in solidarity with the civil rights, labor and anti-war movements and continues to give people hope in today's political moment with classic songs like "We Shall Overcome."
The Midway, the spacious warehouse-turned-venue in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood, is an excellent place to rave. This November, it plays host to British producer Bonobo, who's earned a cult following over the past 20 years for his eclectic house, EDM and ambient production, fusing jazz and world music elements into his danceable and surprising beats.
Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams" unexpectedly shot to the top of Billboard's rock chart this year on the strength of a viral meme that paired the 1977 track with a video of Alcorn State University's dance troupe—a testament to Fleetwood Mac's enduring, cross-cultural and intergenerational appeal. The band is back on tour and working on new material, so here's a chance to watch them perform classics like "The Chain" and "Go Your Own Way" and witness frontwoman Stevie Nicks in all her bohemian goddess glory.
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