20 awesome concerts coming to Orlando

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20 awesome concerts coming to Orlando
Illustration by Dima Drjuchin

The 2015 fall concert forecast kicks off mercifully gusty, with blasts from the past in the form of comeback tours featuring pop legends like Janet Jackson and Billy Idol. From there, a heavy front moves in as Motörhead and Helmet roll through town. But it’s not all comebacks (hello, D’Angelo!) and anniversaries (we meet again, Korn). Some of the coolest engagements feature critically acclaimed artists touring on exciting new albums, like KEN Mode, Chvrches and Sufjan Stevens (sob/swoon).

Summer in Florida beats a dead horse every year with entertainment options that can’t always compel you off the couch, but a future full of fresh concerts is nearly within grasp of your clammy hands clutching your life-source/remote in the cold AC. Here are the 20 artists we’re clamoring to see. Take note, then go stick your head in the freezer until summer punches out.

Janet Jackson

8 p.m. Sept. 23, at Amway Center, amwaycenter.com, $33-$127

Fans got kind of nasty demanding Janet Jackson make a comeback – taunting her with missing persons memes after seven years of silence – but she yawned and shook that out like a no-sass bad-ass and released "No Sleeep" this summer off her forthcoming untitled album. This tour cheers the platinum pop star's return and promises so many dance moves that Jackson had to outfit her whole crew with custom shoes to combat wear, just to be practical about it.

Billy Idol

Sept. 23, at Hard Rock Live, hardrock.com/orlando, $38.50-$123

Billy Idol should be your default hero if you've ever been repelled by the snobby side of music culture – his marriage of grit and glam made punk and rock accessible with solo hits like "White Wedding" and his band Generation X's earworm "Dancing With Myself." His late 2014 release, Kings & Queens of the Underground, saw the rocker saunter back after 10 years, reawakening his catchy subterfuge with new music to remind us why we still worship.


7 p.m. Sept. 25, at House of Blues, hob.com/orlando, $39.50

Motörhead celebrates 40 years of pure rock & roll and drops the crucial band's 22nd album, Bad Magic, this Friday (still weird saying that), Aug. 28. According to the press release, they specifically went for a live feel on the recording, so our knuckles are whitened bracing for new tracks that will rival classics at this show, especially if already-released "Electricity" is indicative of the whole listen. Bonus: Anthrax and Crobot beef up this bill.

Helmet Betty Anniversary Tour

8 p.m. Sept. 26, at the Social, thesocial.org, $17-$20

If you're a '90s kid bucking the trendy synth-y '80s vibes infiltrating much of mainstream music lately, head out to Helmet's revival of their 1994 release, Betty. Critics back then were hard on the record because they demanded too much radio context from it, but it's an intense spin that's since gotten its due as a timeless artful careen that jerks around heavy music expectations in the best ways.


8 p.m. Sept. 30, at Hard Rock Live, hardrock.com/orlando, $40.50-$73.50

With their debut in 2012, the alluring patter of Alt-J's folk-driven electronic pop compelled a rabid fan base and won the band accolades with the dainty emotional progression they conjured on lead single "Matilda," which was a little more subtle but just as powerful as Bon Iver's smash hit "Skinny Love" five years earlier. Alt-J is more than one hit, obviously (their debut, An Awesome Wave, won the Mercury Prize in 2012). They returned last year with sophomore release This Is All Yours, an album that feels like a gripping drama with so many sonic twists. It's a rad shock to much of ambient pop's more wishy-washy system.

KEN Mode

8 p.m. Oct. 2, at Will's Pub, willspub.org, $10-$12

Holy cow, it's cool that Steve Albini helped KEN Mode pivot on 2015's Success. Albini's history of honing noisy masterminds needs no introduction (just in case: Shellac, the Jesus Lizard, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, etc.), but KEN Mode's evolution on this disc is absurdly rad if you can relinquish your attachment to the pure heavy metal lashings of their past five records. That heat is still there, it's just that occasionally the flame flickers out to reveal dark corners of the band's mysterious new aesthetic, stylistically elongating like your shadow does at sunset.

20 awesome concerts coming to Orlando
Mary Ellen Matthews


7 p.m. Oct. 5, at House of Blues, hob.com/orlando, $53.50

Sometimes life's not fair, and you have to wait five years to hear a new D'Angelo record. Other times, life is cruel and makes you wait 14 years for a true R&B auteur to drop some knowledge on the music industry. That's what happened when D'Angelo released 2014's Black Messiah, a finessing of hip-hop, funk, soul and gospel that dared to flare its nostrils at the modern world and created a cerebral and snappy sonic commentary that threw down the gauntlet at whatever tin-tiara'ed laptop artist was pretending to the R&B crown.

Death Grips

8 p.m. Oct. 7, at the Beacham, thebeacham.com, $20-$25

Just like you (probably), we were in mourning when those glitchy freaks in Death Grips announced they'd be depriving us of their impressively cutting hip-hop after this year's double album, The Powers That B, which was said to be their last before they announced this tour. Now we don't know what to feel, except maybe every track of the release. The first half of the album splices original Björk vocal clips as an unusual palate cleanser before the second half, which hits hard with that digitized dance fury you'd expect.

20 awesome concerts coming to Orlando
Milan Zrnic

Twin Shadow

8 p.m. Oct. 7, at the Social, thesocial.org, $22-$25

You know what's nearly as bittersweet as the dramatic pop of Florida-raised but Brooklyn-based Twin Shadow? The fact that he had to cancel his date last fall! Here's your chance to make up and groove to new songs from his 2015 release, Eclipse, which shrugs off the more angsty-teen-like melodic drama of his debut, Forget, and grows up, draping his pop melancholy in fancy clothes you have to dry-clean, but still lyrically unable to deny that heartache is still a thing, no matter how you dress it up.


6:30 p.m. Oct. 10, at the Beacham, thebeacham.com, $27.60-$32.60

Welcome frontman "successor" Papa Emeritus III as Swedish metal spectacle Ghost returns to Florida with a little less baggage. They finally dropped the eye-roll "B.C." at the end of their name (which they liken to LLC and joke means "Because of Copyright"). But that's not all they recently dropped – new album Meliora released just last week, so there are new songs to widen your eyes while you witness their heavily costumed ghoulish display.


8 p.m. Oct. 10, at the Social, thesocial.org, $17-$20

Groundbreaking British techno duo Autechre caused warped hearts to stop with their two-hour 2013 release, Exai, as if the twisted manipulators hit pause on each fan's internal beat – so the notion that they were touring North America this year floored serious fans, who likely gripped their chests as they sank to their knees in gratitude. That sounds like a lot of hype, but their perverse electronica has stunned for decades, especially in a live setting.


7:15 p.m. Oct. 12, at Hard Rock Live, hardrock.com/orlando, $27.50-$42.50

Danzig resuscitated their "Blackest of the Black" tour name for the first time in five years and is working on a new covers album called Skeletons with a fall release date – so basically we're all doomed to rock out this night to blistering covers, oh shucks. Big plus: Prong frontman Tommy Victor guests on the new album and his full band joins Danzig on tour – so we're confidently crossing our fingers they'll team up onstage for a crossover song that's pretty inevitable.


7:30 p.m. Oct. 15, at Hard Rock Live, hardrock.com/orlando, $38.50-$63.50

With one of the most scarring silhouettes ever captured on their introductory album's cover, those freaks in Korn unleashed their self-titled debut in 1994 and cursed us all to decades of nu-metal pretenders imitating Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis on "Blind" and turning alt-rock radio into an intolerable echo chamber. Now Korn commemorates 20 years since its release by performing the album in its entirety.

Joey Bada$$

8 p.m. Oct. 22, at Venue 578, venue578.com, $25-$115

There's no way you spun Joey Badass' debut studio album, B4.DA.$$, and didn't immediately nestle into its old-school bump. The young rapper gets criticized for borrowing too heavily from his influences, but the chewy listen at last properly introduced the rising hip-hop star, no matter what growing pains you might prescribe for any stylistic lack on the otherwise critically praised release. Joey Badass is exactly the kind of young star we ought to prop up, so go get a piece of his mind and if you're real gung-ho, spring for the VIP meet-and-greet.


8 p.m. Oct. 29, at Will's Pub, willspub.org, $10-$12

The scrutinizing 20-something call-out of lo-fi wonder Pujol's "DIY2K," off his 2014 Saddle Creek release, Reunited States of Being, was a playful garage-rock poke at modern commercialism and vanity, so circle back and course-correct if you missed that listen before Pujol comes to town with Sub Pop's Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires (their first time playing Florida, prompted by their Fest appearance).


7:30 p.m. Oct. 30, at House of Blues, hob.com/orlando, $27

By the time Chvrches gets here, the Scottish electronic stars will have released their sophomore album, Every Open Eye (Sept. 25). The singles they've leaked so far – "Never Ending Circles" and "Leave a Trace" – have a shimmery pulse that charges through the futility of fighting against tired old relationship patterns. Their light upbeat sound paired with deep lyrical angst masterfully re-creates that desperate need to eradicate confusion with heady positivity. They've been playing unreleased new songs live, plus their live show is worth all the raving folks do about this jubilantly consistent act.

Sufjan Stevens

8 p.m. Nov. 6, at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, drphillipscenter.org, $35-$50

Momentarily forgetting Joanna Newsom's jaw-drop of an announcement that she's releasing new music, we're confident there will not be a more necessary folk release this year than Sufjan Stevens' Carrie & Lowell. If you made it through the tearful hypnotism of his minimalist yet tremendous attempt to reconcile his feelings about his parents' deaths without your eyeballs stinging, it is unlikely you will be able to brace so nobly when he compels its gentle avalanche of goosebumps live.

Minus the Bear

7 p.m. Nov. 6-7, at the Social, thesocial.org, $49.50

Anniversary tours are everything to earnest fans, and Minus the Bear's devoted fanbase has been waiting 10 years to hear the band perform their sophomore album, Menos el Oso, in its entirety. Try to keep up with guitarist Dave Knudson's two-handed tapping, and show up early for stellar openers Murder by Death, O'Brother and Aero Flynn (whose intriguing 2015 self-titled release you should acquaint yourself with immediately).

20 awesome concerts coming to Orlando
via Chaka Khan on Facebook

Chaka Khan

5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 8 p.m. Nov. 15-16, at Epcot's Eat to the Beat, disneyworld.disney.go, price of park admission

Time your Epcot Food & Wine trip this fall carefully and you can catch the legendary Chaka Khan, who spices up their typical stew comprised of mainstream meat and potatoes like Smash Mouth and Sister Hazel. We feel for you, Chaka, you're still the queen (forget those Frozen princesses).


8 p.m. Nov. 22, at Will's Pub, willspub.org, $12-$14

Normally when something gets labeled "infectious," it's a drippy forced way to falsely spread joy, but the diseased mind of left-field garage-punker Nobunny travels through your system and does irreparable damage to your future expectations of showmanship, punk show or not. He's offputting, outlandish and genius, with a disturbing slew of catchy songs to keep you sweating out his fever the whole set.

Worth the Drive: Fall concert roadtrips edition

Plan B Block Party: RJD2

4 p.m. Sept. 26, at Ybor Historic District, Tampa, facebook.com/brokenmold, $20-$25
Drive time: approximately 1.5 hours
Why: Engrossing soulful producer-genius RJD2 headlines a stellar lineup dotted with hyper-cool support like Plastic Pinks, Hank & Cupcakes and COEDS, plus regional and local acts we adore like Set & Setting, Sunbears!, the Sh-Booms, the Woolly Bushmen, MrEnc, DieAlps! and Me Chinese.

The Jesus and Mary Chain
8 p.m. Oct. 2, at Olympia Theater, Miami, olympiatheater.org, $40-$75
Drive time: approximately 3.5 hours
Why: This ridiculously appealing show features the finessed and feedback-obsessed Jesus and Mary Chain playing their greatest hits, followed by a start-to-finish live performance of the 1985 album that changed everything in imaginative art pop and beyond, Psychocandy. (FYI: Kraftwerk plays Sept. 29 at the same venue, but it’s sold out if you weren’t quick enough to snag tickets.)

Beach House
8 p.m. Oct. 6, at Buckhead Theatre, Atlanta, thebuckheadtheatre.com, $25
Drive time: approximately 6.5 hours
Why: The haul to Atlanta is always a hard sell, but Sub Pop darling Beach House won’t be gracing Florida while touring their lush 2015 release, Depression Cherry, which is a return to their earlier, more subdued melodic tendencies and oozes with mood. They wrote it to buck their recent (and uncharacteristic) impulse to crank up their sound to fill bigger rooms, an adaptation they attempted as the band drew larger crowds. Show them it’s the right idea to stick to their inner compass – we’re just sorry it takes setting your car’s GPS to support the spirit.

III Points Festival
5 p.m. Oct. 9-12, at Wynwood, Miami, iiipoints.com, $99
Drive time: approximately 3.5 hours
Why: A better question would be why not? The lineup is absurdly enticing, featuring a gushworthy array of magnetic performers like King Krule, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Panda Bear, Toro y Moi, Run the Jewels, Ghostface Killah + Doom, Warpaint, Surfer Blood, XXYYXX and tons more.

About The Author

Ashley Belanger

Associate editor, music nerd, NBA junkie, Florida explorer and obsessive pet owner.
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