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.
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
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
22: Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck @ Paramount Theatre, Oakland
22-23: Kanye West @ SAP Center, San Jose (Oct. 22) and Oracle Arena, Oakland (Oct. 23)
31: The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
Every night at a Flaming Lips show is kind of like Halloween — there are glittery body suits, animal costumes, cartoonishly large hands that shoot lasers, and rains of confetti. So what will actual Halloween with the Lips be like? Other than "certainly crazy," who knows? All we can say with certainty is this: If you're looking for the perfect night to eat those mushroom brownies in your freezer, this is it.
31: Danzig @ The Warfield
1: Janelle Monáe @ The Warfield
Arguably the most interesting female performer in R&B, Janelle Monae is back this year with a new album, the follow-up to 2010's much-lauded The ArchAndroid. The Electric Lady continues the futuristic cyborg story begun on her previous records, and if the first, Erykah Badu-featuring single, "Q.U.E.E.N.," is any indication, it will deliver more of the rakish, intelligent funk we've come to expect from Monáe.
1: Charli XCX @ Slim's
5: Television @ The Independent
Television, one of the best and most influential of the early New York proto-punk bands, is reuniting this year for a handful of performances. Expect the group, minus original guitarist Richard Lloyd, to play all of its debut album, the seminal Marquee Moon, at this sold-out show. A new Television album is reportedly in the works, too, so you might hear some of that.
8-9: Of Montreal @ Great American Music Hall
16-17: Beats Antique @ The Fillmore
16: Steve Aoki, Waka Flocka Flame, Borgore @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
17: Rhys Chatham: 'A Secret Rose' (composition for 100 electric guitars) @ Craneway Pavilion
18: Jessie Ware @ The Fillmore
You'd think from her icy music — arching vocal melodies layered over up-to-the-minute beats from the London bass and club scenes — that Jessie Ware would be a cool fish onstage. Not so: As those who caught her Outside Lands performance will attest, the singer is gushy, down to earth, and even a little awkward. Her warm presence enlivens her spare electronic pop, which is crisp, smart, and deservedly in demand right now.
19: Drake, Miguel, Future @ Oracle Arena
19-20: Reverend Horton Heat @ The Chapel
21: Poliça @ The Fillmore
22: John Vanderslice @ Rickshaw Stop
26: Pearl Jam @ Oracle Arena
Say what you will about Pearl Jam, but the Seattle grunge survivors didn't last this long by sucking live. The band's recent releases may be uneven, but Eddie Vedder and Co. have a way of animating stages that's kept them filling arenas for more than two decades. The tour this fall is in support of new album Lightning Bolt, whose first single "Mind Your Manners" once again finds Pearl Jam ripping into speedy punk territory.
2: Beyoncé @ SAP Center (formerly HP Pavilion)
7: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Talib Kweli, Big K.R.I.T. @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
11: Jay-Z @ SAP Center
11-12: Jeff Tweedy @ The Fillmore