Fall Arts Preview 2015: Pop Music

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Now that the summer music festival season is winding down, it’s time to head indoors for your music fix. The excellent shows winding their way to Chicago in the coming months are far too numerous to whittle down to a mere 10. But whittle I must. So here are my 10 picks for Chicago’s fall pop music scene:


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Farm Aid 30(Sept. 19, FirstMerit Bank Pavilion; livenation.com): The oldest-running “concert with a cause” celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with founders Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young continuing their fight for the rights of farmers and sustainable agriculture (and more). The musical lineup also features Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds, Imagine Dragons, Jack Johnson, Kacey Musgraves, Mavis Staples, Lukas Nelson, Insects Vs. Robots, Holly Williams, Ian Mellencamp (John is his uncle), Jamey Johnson, Promise of the Real, and Old Crow Medicine Show.

Ed Sheeran, with guests Passenger and Christina Perri (Sept. 16, Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland, Tinley Park. Visit livenation.com). This one’s just around the corner and definitely worth the price of admission. The 24-year-old Sheeran just launched his own record label, made it to the No.1 spot on the Billboard Artist 100, and landed a recurring role on the FX new medieval drama “The Bastard Executioner.” That’s in addition to his infectious music catalog. And then there’s that on-again/off-again lion chest tattoo…

ROBERT PLANT AND THE SENSATIONAL SPACE SHIFTERS, (Sept. 23, FirstMerit Bank Pavilion; livenation.com): Rescheduled from earlier this summer when the frontman took ill, only a handful of fall dates are on the on the docket for Plant & Co., and Chicago is among them.

RICKY MARTIN, with special guest Wisin. (Oct. 11, Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim; livenation.com): There’s no denying he’s still got it. The 43-year-old singer remains one of the most popular Latin music stars, in a vida that’s not quite so loca anymore (fatherhood will do that to you!). His 10th studio album, “A Quien Quiera Escuchar”(“To Those Who Want to Listen”) was released earlier this year. Joining Martin on tour is Puerto Rican reggaeton rapper Wisin (of Wisin y Yandel).

A$AP ROCKY and TYLER THE CREATOR, with Danny Brown and Vince Staples. (Sept. 27, the Aragon Ballroom; ticketmaster.com): Touring behind his new release “At.Long.Last.ASAP” and the much talked-about music video (hello Rod Stewart!) for “Everyday,” Rocky (and Tyler) are hot-hot this fall as their co-headlining tour continues to add dates.

GRACE POTTER, (Oct. 23, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, Visit ticketmaster.com): The 32-year-old frontwoman from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals goes it alone on this outing, touring behind her first solo CD, the pop/dance-heavy “Midnight.” A far cry from the standard bluesy/roots rock offerings of the Nocturnals, the album is still potent and Potter proves there’s a whole lot more to her vocal prowess.

 ZEDD (Oct. 29, UIC Pavilion; ticketmaster.com): EDM fans, listen up! It doesn’t get much headier than this outing from the Russian-German uberstar. ZEDD is out on the road in support of “True Colors,” which dropped earlier this year. And you’re in luck: the Chicago date features special guests Alex Metric and Dillon Francis.

 JANET JACKSON (Nov, 3-4 and 6 Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State. Visit tickemaster.com): The Grammy winner returns to Chicago on the first leg of her North American Unbreakable Tour (her first full-out road trip in ten years). Jackson, 49, will release her  new CD (“Unbreakable”) on Oct. 2 (the first single, “No Sleep” dropped earlier this summer, and another single, “Burnitup!,” featuring Missy Elliott, made its debut during the tour opener in Vancouver on Aug. 31.).

The Weeknd performs onstage during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. | (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Weeknd performs onstage during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. | (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

THE WEEKND (Nov. 6, United Center; livenation.com) brings his Madness Fall Tour to Chicago (the second stop on the North American road trip) hot on the heels of his new album “Beauty Behind the Madness,” and Tom Cruise’s hilarious and spot-on lip-synching turn on “Can’t Feel My Face” on “Jimmy Fallon” earlier this summer. Banks and Travis Scott are also on the bill.

POLYPHONIC SPREE(Nov. 8, City Winery; citywinery.com) Tim DeLaughter and his Texas-based symphonic pop/choral/psychedelic rock troupe must be experienced at least once in a lifetime. Lush musical textures abound from the group, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year with this tour and a new album in the works.

Most honorable mentions: Lucero at Metro (Oct. 23); Chvrches at Metro (Oct. 24, sold-out); The Wonder Years and Motion City Soundtrack at the Riv (Oct. 24); Halsey at the Vic (Oct. 28).

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