Listen Up / September 2011

Who to see and what to hear in September.

by Todd Coder

Summer has quickly come to a close, and we are now in the midst of yet another fall season in the Magic City.  As I have mentioned in the past, this is my favorite time of year for a number of reasons.  The change in weather is always welcome, fall colors take over the local landscape, college football reigns over the region, and live music triumphantly returns for what is easily the busiest time of year for local clubs and theatres.

Drive By Truckers

2011 is no exception. Venues like the bottletree café, WorkPlay and Alys Stephens Center have jam–packed calendars while seasonal events like Artwalk and Vulcan Aftertunes return for another year. Additionally, the Alabama Theatre has three major concerts the first week of October alone, featuring performances from Fleet Foxes, Death Cab for Cutie and the Civil Wars. Per usual in Birmingham, when it rains, it pours.

Over the summer, I heard many people complain about the lack of concerts and events in the Birmingham area. Comments have also been made about the oversaturation of events in the fall and spring. The seasonal and cyclical nature of artist touring is not unique to our market. A multitude of other cities deal with this same issue, and it doesn’t appear to be fixable anytime soon.

Summer is the season for festivals and amphitheater tours. Due to these two elements, combined with numerous artists taking the summer off from touring, the club and theatre business suffers immensely for three months. It’s this way every year across the country, but that doesn’t make it any easier for concertgoers or promoters.

Just as the summer is abysmal, the fall and spring can sometimes be overwhelming due to the variety of options offered to concertgoers. A few months ago, you might have gone weeks before seeing a show of interest. This fall, you will have to regularly pick and choose between numerous shows on the same night. It should be interesting, but most importantly, it will be fun.

Now let’s look at what’s happening this month, at a music venue near you…

Drive-By Truckers One of the South’s most popular touring acts, the Drive By Truckers return to Tuscaloosa to perform at the Bama Theatre this month.  With the release on the critically acclaimed, Go-Go Boots last February, the Truckers reemerged as the epitome of Southern rock royalty. The band seemed to lose a bit of its stride with the departure of Jason Isbell a few years ago, but this record and their more notable recent live performances, help confirm that the Truckers are back and back in a big way.

Bama Theatre, September 7 –

Bright Eyes Conor Oburst spearheads this eclectic ensemble as they return to Birmingham for the first time in over a decade. Since then, Oburst has experienced success in a handful of side projects and artist collaborations including Mystic Valley Band and Monsters of Folk.  This September night at Sloss Furnaces will be the perfect setting for the show .

Sloss Furnaces, September 9 –


Dawes & David Mayfield Parade Two brothers started this Americana rock & roll band last decade in Los Angeles.  Their progress and popularity has been slow and steady but has shifted into high gear since the release of the critically acclaimed Nothing is Wrong, earlier this summer.  In 2010, they played Art on the Rocks at the Birmingham Museum and also played last October at the bottletree. This time through, Dawes share the stage with the David Mayfield Parade, who played the venue earlier this year.  Known for an eclectic live show and compared to the likes of the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons, this two band co-bill is my sleeper pick for one of the best shows of the year.  Don’t miss it.

WorkPlay Theatre, September 22 –

Buckethead The name describes his appearance,  but it takes more than that singular label to define him. The Buckethead story is a mysterious one. Why the mask and bucket? I have no clue. But I can tell you that this is one of the most entertaining shows that I have ever seen. With too many accolades to mention, Buckethead is renowned as one of the most talented guitar players in the world.   His style is a fast, furious and accurate one and is very impressive considering the fact that he is wearing a mask…and a bucket. This is the kind of show that everyone should see at least once.

WorkPlay Theatre, September 26 –


Meat Puppets They’ve been in existence for over 30 years and they’re likely to play for 30 more; with the occasional break-up here and there, of course. The Meat Puppets started off as a punk band but have evolved in a number of ways over the years. It is important to note that they have influenced numerous well known rock & roll acts, such as Pavement, Soundgarden and Nirvana. They are currently touring in support of their latest release, Lollipop, and they’ll stop off in Birmingham at the end of the month. This one should sell out quickly so get your tickets before it’s too late.

the bottletree café, September 28 –

Todd Coder is the Director of Music Account Development at TicketBiscuit.  He is also the talent buyer at WorkPlay Theatre and for The Hangout Music Festival.

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