Well, kids, it’s the last day of August and that means one thing: fall is in full swing. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve already lost at least half of your syllabi, and the fresh new pack of pencils you bought last week is nearing empty. The room you were so determined to keep clean this year now has clothing strewn across it, and your first prelim is just on the horizon. And for us music geeks, fall means another thing: festival season is over. Well, never fear, as Ithaca’s autumn lineup is here to shield you from the ever-increasing ennui. This fall, treat yourself to one of the many exciting concerts in town.
As per usual, the calendar is loaded with shows put on by the illustrious Mr. Dan Smalls ’92, who is pretty much the Santa Claus of Ithaca concert promotion. Dan Smalls Presents kicks off its fall season next Friday, when indie-ska rappers AER groove their way through The Haunt. Opening for the Massachusetts-based bromantics are rapper Yonas, New Zealand sensation David Dallas and Captaincy, a local artist from Ithaca College. Two days later, saunter on down to the State Theatre for an intimate evening with acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter. The acclaimed performer will wow you with tunes from her new album, and probably break a few hearts along the way. Next up, everyone’s favorite (only?) Berkeley trip-hop band WHY? plays The Haunt on Sept.11. Known for their creative compositions and bizarre, often discomfiting lyrics, WHY? will certainly put on a unique — and awesome — show.
Let’s take a moment of silence to honor the probably tiny population of people that are fans of both Josh Ritter and Das Racist, as the wildly different artists both play on the Sept. 15. The Ithaca College Bureau of Concerts will welcome frenetic, self-aware hip-hop group Das Racist to Emerson Suites, while Josh Ritter’s country crooning will woo every creature within a two-block radius of the State.
On Sept. 22, we’ll celebrate the one weekend of the year Cornellians pretend to care about football with Cornell Concert Commission’s annual Homecoming concert, this year featuring Swedish producer Avicii. Get ready for the same kind of drunken frat party that last year’s B.o.b. show was. Let’s just hope Avicii remembers to pay his tab at Level B.
As we make our way into rainy October, try and ignore the feeling of impending doom that inevitably accompanies prelim season. After all, what’s the point of studying when you’ve got approximately one trillion great shows to choose from? On the Oct. 2, pretend you’re not quite so close to Canada as bluesy Southerners the North Mississippi Allstars rock The Haunt. Later that week, catch comedy-rapper Mike Stud — the future King of Bro-dom — or transcendent folk band the Great Lake Swimmers. In mid-October, Dan Smalls Presents brings a trifecta of fantastic music. First, The Haunt presents Zammuto, the awesome hyperactive solo project of Nick from The Books, on Oct. 12. Next they get The Mountain Goats, the brilliant lyricist and lo-fi rocker that stunned Castaways (R.I.P) in 2011. Then, Cat Power will treat the State to a night of gorgeous, haunting confessionals. The month rounds out with Gov’t Mule and the Indigo Girls at the State. On Oct. 27, enjoy Allman Brothers Band side project Gov’t Mule, before getting out your Birkenstocks for moody folk duo the Indigo Girls on Halloween Eve.
Come November, the sun will have pretty much disappeared behind a wall of gray for the foreseeable future. Regardless, Citizen Cope will show up to chant “Son’s Gonna Rise” at us, perhaps laughing as we sadly break out our mittens and jackets. The very next night, the State will host Bela Fleck’s New York Banjo Summit. Now, I’m not entirely clear on the concept of a “banjo summit,” but anything that involves prominent banjo player Bela Fleck and, presumably, an insane number of other strummers, sounds pretty freaking fantastic. For the less banjo-oriented, sit it out a few days and catch Jewish hip-hop artist Matisyahu or classic songwriter John Hiatt.
Basically, the fall lineup has something for everyone. From this list of shows to the dozens of others I couldn’t quite squeeze in, Ithaca’s music scene is truly amazing. Sure, fall brings problem sets and papers and, worst of all, pants, but it’s rare that a city of 60,000 can boast such a thriving music culture. So please, take a break from procrastinating to enjoy one of the stellar concerts Ithaca has to offer.