concerts Toronto

The top 10 concerts in Toronto for fall 2014

The top concerts in Toronto this fall feature some of the most exciting major acts across all genres - no small feat, given the already jam-packed summer festival schedule we've had this year. We'll still be sufficiently spoiled in Toronto so that there's a healthy mix of something for everyone, whether it's old or new, soft or hard, arena or dive bar - though the Danforth Music Hall seems to be snagging the season's best shows.

In the coming months, several heavy-hitter pop stars are set to take over the ACC, from Enrique Iglesias with Pitbull to Bastille. Canada's indie elite also have reason to celebrate with the annual Polaris Prize Gala tonight, while heavy music fans can see bands sporting new identities, whether with a new lead singer (Arch Enemy) or a new-ish name (Code Orange).

Your parents are probably excited for the likes of Cher, Bob Dylan (maybe not) and Sarah McLachlan. Not to be outdone are the younger crowd seeking to indulge a little nostalgia - aging and/or maturing pop-punkers can hit up MXPX and Yellowcard, while others can get a nineties Can-con fix through Moist or The Watchmen.

Putting aside all that musical menagerie, here are my top 10 picks for concerts to see this autumn.

Fucked Up - September 26/27 - Horseshoe Tavern
These hometown punks have been going full-force all summer since the release of latest hardcore opus Glass Boys. They've already played a bunch of Toronto shows, including sets at Field Trip and The Rivoli; clearly they love playing at home, so it makes sense they'd be back so soon for this pair of dates at one of our oldest music institutions. Whether they're ripping up a bathroom or bringing their kids on stage, rely on Fucked Up for amped up antics.

Lily Allen - September 28 - Sound Academy
A brief musical hiatus is mostly what's kept snarky songstress Lily Allen from making her way back to this side of the pond for five years. Now she's back with controversy-stoking record Sheezus, and is making her way to Hogtown for a night at the Sound Academy (appropriately controversial in its own right). Enjoy her brand of sweetly judgmental pop alongside Lolawolf, Zoe Kravitz' new synthy band.

Constantines - October 2 and 3 - Danforth Music Hall
Speaking of five years ago - remember when the Constantines were all, "see you around"? That sucked. Thank goodness it was only temporary. Arguably one of the best rock bands from these parts, the Guelph-born quintet came back earlier this year to celebrate the decade (well, 11-year) anniversary of breakout album Shine A Light through a reissue and a handful of festival dates. If you couldn't stomach a hefty festival ticket for a shorter Constantines set, you'll be thrilled that they're playing not one, but two headlining shows. Arms up.

Nas - October 8 - Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Legendary rapper and former Jay-Z nemesis is celebrating a record anniversary of his own - the 20th anniversary of Illmatic. Fans are being treated to a reissue and even a full-length documentary, but even better is the accompanying tour, where Nas is screening the movie and performing the famous album in full. There's two back-to-back shows planned for the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

Fleetwood Mac - October 18 - Air Canada Centre
I know: this mostly falls in the "music your parents like" category, but hear me out. My mom talked me into seeing Fleetwood Mac last time they were in town, and despite not being much of a fan, I was blown away. Lindsay Buckingham's ridic guitar work, Stevie Nicks' perfect voice, and the endearing charisma of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie are all undeniable. Plus, now that Christine McVie's back, lots of long-time faves are sure to return to the setlist.

Slowdive - October 28 - Danforth Music Hall
All your favourite retro shoegazers are getting back together, and the latest of the bunch are UK originators Slowdive. They've gone from saying it'll basically never happen to launching a full-scale international tour. Playing in Toronto should be extra special as their last official show before breaking up in '94 was at our very own Lee's Palace. They've paired up with depressingly dreamy descendants Low for their jaunt across North America.

A Tribe Called Red - November 7 - Danforth Music Hall
This DJ trio has quickly climbed to the top tier of Canadian electronic music with two stellar albums, each displaying their contemporary mix of Aboriginal sounds with EDM. Their shows are a lot of fun, especially when they splice in captivating visuals, audience interaction and traditional First Nations dancers into the set. Catch them at the Danforth, where they might try debuting a new tune or two from the next impending LP. While you're there, can you please get to the bottom of what the heck happened with DJ Shub? Thanks.

alt-J - November 11 - Kool Haus
Ever since winning the Mercury Prize, indie Brits alt-J have been riding a pretty Awesome Wave (sorry, had to) of success. Despite losing a member - guitarist Gwil Sainsbury - the band's still been releasing tracks with the catchy, harmony-laden hooks that fans are addicted to. When you see them at the Kool Haus, their second album (This Is All Yours) will have dropped, so you'll have twice the familiar jams for sing-alongs.

TV On The Radio - November 12 - Phoenix Concert Theatre
They already came through Toronto for Luminato this summer, but the curfew-shortened set was probably enough for neither band or fans, so it's a good thing that TOTR are coming back for round two. Expect high-energy performances of their eclectic indie-rock brew, which they always seem to effortlessly translate to stage despite the complex and multi-layered nature of their songs. The exciting news of new LP Seeds means that you can probably hear a few live previews before it drops the following week.

Caribou - November 24 - Danforth Music Hall
Electronic wizard Dan Snaith has put aside his Daphni moniker to refocus on main project Caribou, much to the delight of experimental music fans. New album Our Love is due in October and promises to deliver more innovative genre-fusion with the help of Owen Pallet and Jesse Lanza guesting on tracks. Flanked with a full set of live musicians, Caribou's live shows are always a flurry of instruments, lights, projections, and dance-worthy beats, so it'll definitely be worth your while.


Pallbearer / October 24 / Lee's Palace
Because I couldn't possibly do a music roundup without at least one heavy band shout-out, I'm sneaking Pallbearer in here. These Arkansas agents of doom metal are going into fall on a high note (though not literally... at all) thanks last month's a fantastically received sophomore album, Foundations of Burden. The weather's about to get really depressing, really fast. What better way to welcome that than with some of the gloomiest tunes in existence?

Photo of Slowdive by Saul Torres on flickr

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