Fall Concert Guide: Your Guide to Live Music's Most Important Season

Ah, fall: The leaves drop, the kids go back to school, and every band worth its Twitter following hits the road. The most important season of the music calendar is upon us, and the lineups of local venues are exactly as full as you'd expect. So full, in fact, that navigating them might just make you pine for the more carefree days of summer. Which is why we've sorted through the fall concert listings and assembled this handy guide to the larger, cooler, and more important shows for the rest of the year. Not everything is on this list, of course, and new shows are being added all the time. But if you want to know what's worth saving your lunch money for, this will get you started.

SEPTEMBER

11: AlunaGeorge @ The Independent

12: Julia Holter @ Great American Music Hall

13: The Weeknd @ Greek Theatre, Berkeley

14-15: Rock the Bells @ Shoreline Amphitheatre

By now, stacked lineups at this annual hip-hop festival are expected. But with names like E-40 and Too Short, the entire A$AP Mob, Wu-Tang Clan, and Black Hippy — the crew that includes current L.A. darling Kendrick Lamar — the lineup for this 2013 edition is especially impressive. Whether you like it Southern gangsta style (Juicy J) or smooth and conscious (Talib Kweli) there's something for every hip-hop fan at Rock the Bells — even the pining nostalgists who'll watch those abominable Ol' Dirty Bastard and Eazy-E holograms.

16: Valient Thorr @ Slim's

17: The Julie Ruin @ Slim's

Kathleen Hanna, the firestarting punk rocker who helped lead the Riot Grrrl movement with Bikini Kill, has a new band called the Julie Ruin, named after one of her '90s solo albums. And while Hanna's first post-Bikini Kill band was all about understated disco, the Julie Ruin is louder, looser, and more fun. "Run Fast," off the group's September-released EP of the same title, is an anthemic synth-and-guitar romp in which Hanna shouts about her wild childhood. It is, in other words, excellent — as you can expect the band to be onstage.

19: Method Man and Redman @ 1015 Folsom

20: Lee Fields and The Expressions @ Bimbo's 365 Club

20: Woods, The Fresh & Onlys @ The Chapel

21-22: Gold Panda @ The Independent

The British electronic musician known as Gold Panda has done an amazing job of keeping the world from using his real name, which is Derwin Schlecker. And wisely so: The Gold Panda moniker perfectly suits Schlecker's reedy organic compositions, which snip lovely little sounds from the real world and sequence them into clicking, propulsive songs with surprising emotional resonance. Gold Panda's debut album made him an international superstar among connoisseurs of subtle, brainy electronica, and his new album, Half of Where You Live — which Mr. Panda aptly describes as a "city album" — looks like it will keep him there.

21: Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco @ America's Cup Pavilion

26: Depeche Mode @ Shoreline Amphitheatre

26: Unknown Mortal Orchestra @ The Fillmore

26-27: Arctic Monkeys @ Fox Oakland

27 & 29: Savages @ The Independent

28: Phosphorescent @ The Fillmore

Quivering, resplendent, and sometimes heartbreaking modern Americana is the specialty of the Alabama native Matthew Houk, better known to the world as Phosphorescent. His albums have been winning praise from critics worldwide for years, but his latest, Muchacho, is particularly gorgeous. Seeing him perform in one of San Francisco's most cathedral-like venues should be a rare treat.

30: Chelsea Wolfe, True Widow @ Great American Music Hall

OCTOBER

2: Gary Clark Jr. @ Fox Oakland

Young bluesmen don't get more acclaimed than Gary Clark Jr., who's been hailed by such disparate famous figures as David Lynch and President Obama for his tremendous musicianship and live presence. The skills of this Austin guitar-slinger are practically superhuman, as anyone who caught his searing, almost psychedelic Outside Lands set this year will recall. We can only imagine what he'll do with a full house at the Fox.

4-6: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass @ Golden Gate Park

5: Conor Oberst @ The Fillmore

5: Billy Bragg and Jon Langford @ Great American Music Hall

A night in which two of the best living British protest singers get together in one room, this Hardly Strictly sideshow is basically unmissable. Billy Bragg is, of course, Billy Bragg — the voice behind such humbly rousing anthems as "A New England." Jon Langford is one of the main creative and whiskey-swilling forces behind the Mekons, the British post-punk band that practically invented alt-country, and became a near-cult in the process.

5 & 7: Pet Shop Boys @ Fox Oakland

10-12: Thee Oh Sees and the Blind Shake @ The Chapel

We shouldn't have to explain why it's fantastic that San Francisco's craziest psych-garage band and Minneapolis' loudest garage-punk band will hold court for three nights at the Chapel in mid-October. If you haven't familiarized yourself with the brilliant and underappreciated Blind Shake, this month — around the release of its new album, Key To a False Door, out Sept. 17 — would be an excellent time. And if you live here and haven't familiarized yourself with Thee Oh Sees yet, well, it's never too late.

11: Primal Scream @ Regency Ballroom

12: John Fogerty plays Creedence Clearwater Revival's Cosmo's Factory @ Greek Theatre, Berkeley

17-18: Death Angel @ Slim's

19-20: Treasure Island Music Festival @ Treasure Island

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