The Upstate Beat: 15 reasons to look forward to autumn

St. Vincent returns to the area on Sept. 14 to perform at Empire Live in Albany. (photo provided)

St. Vincent returns to the area on Sept. 14 to perform at Empire Live in Albany. (photo provided)

Live music came roaring back this summer, with so many shows taking place across the Capital Region that it felt hard to keep up. We’d be sad to see summer end, but autumn looks just as promising for local arts and entertainment. Here are 15 of the fall’s most anticipated shows and music festivals.

— St. Vincent, led by frontwoman Annie Clark, put on one of the best local shows of the decade at Clifton Park’s now-defunct Upstate Concert Hall. Clark returns to the area on Sept. 14 to bring her “Daddy’s Home” tour to promoter Ted Etoll’s new venue, Empire Live (93 North Pearl Street, Albany). The genius performer has only gotten bigger since her area debut, so we’re excited to see her in the fairly intimate Empire Live space. 8 p.m.

— Vetiver is the stage and recording name of San Francisco’s Andy Cabic, who crafts great melodic songs that reward careful listening. On this upcoming tour, which arrives at the Hangar on the Hudson (675 River St., Troy) on Sept. 16, the Vetiver band will be a trio with drummer Otto Hauser and Dan Lead on guitar and pedal steel. This is Vetiver’s first tour in the Northeast since the 2019 release of the album “Up on High.” 8 p.m.

— Once again, country music legend Willie Nelson brings his beat-up guitar Trigger, his indefatigable spirit, and his always-enjoyable Outlaw Music Festival to Saratoga Performing Arts Center (108 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Springs) on Sept. 18. with special guests the Avett Brothers, Billy Strings, Larkin Poe and Brittney Spencer. He’s 89 now, so catch Nelson while he’s still touring. 4:30 p.m.

— Singer-songwriter Michael Eck made his local live music debut in 1982 at a Bethlehem High School battle of the bands contest. Since then, he’s played with the Plague, Ramblin Jug Stompers, Lost Radio Rounders and a number of other local bands. On Sept. 25, Eck celebrates his 40th anniversary in live music at the venue he considers his spiritual home: Caffè Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs). 7 p.m.

— Indie rock band Yo La Tengo continues to tour and make vital records 38 years after they formed in Hoboken, New Jersey. It’s played many spots around the Capital Region, but come to Lark Hall (351 Hudson Avenue, Albany) for the first time on Sept. 26. The venue’s stellar sound will serve well Yo La Tengo’s sometimes-hushed and sometimes-riotous sonic adventures. 8 p.m.

— From Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, over 100 artists will perform in Troy for the inaugural Bacchanalia Arts & Music Festival at venues like El Dorado Bar, the Whiskey Pickle, No Fun, Franklin Alley Social Club and more. The three-day festival includes food trucks, pop-ups, art exhibits and a main outdoor stage with national and local acts. Wristbands will be sold for the entire festival, and a limited number of tickets for individual events will also be available at the door. Musical artists on the bill include the garage-soul rockers Nude Party, New York City soul DJ Jonathan Toubin and Chali 2na and Cut Chemist, founding members of hip-hop group Jurassic 5. Participating local bands include Laveda, the Abyssmals, Haley Moley, Victory Soul Orchestra, Swamp Baby and many more.

— British folk rocker Billy Bragg is always good for trenchant social commentary, funny stage banter and classic Bragg songs like “The Saturday Boy,” the ultimate unrequited love song punctuated by a whistle solo, and the intensely heartfelt “Must I Paint You a Picture.” He appears at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Oct. 11 in support of a new album, “The Million Things that Never Happened.” 7:30 p.m.

— A brass bandleader in New Orleans’ Tremé neighborhood from an absurdly young age, Trombone Shorty never fails to put on a joyous, high-energy performance with his group Orleans Avenue. Expect upbeat jazz standards, original tunes and Dixieland standbys like “When the Saints Go Marching In” when Shorty returns to the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) on Nov. 1. 8 p.m.

— Acclaimed Americana singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne and his trio hit the road this fall to perform songs from his album “Monovision” as well as hits from across his catalog. The tour brings them to Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady) on Nov. 6. Expect LaMontagne’s understated, pretty tunes and his tender voice. 7 p.m.

— Black Violin, a thrilling duo led by violinist Kev Marcus and viola player Wil B., are classically trained musicians who mash classical music with hip hop and contemporary pop. A Black Violin set could include everything from Charlie Daniels’ “Devil Went Down to Georgia” to Imagine Dragons. The duo previously played at SPAC and Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, but on Nov. 18 comes to Proctors’ Main Stage. 8 p.m.

Other fall highlights:

— Classic heavy metal band Quiet Riot rocks their head-banging anthems on Sept. 16 to the Strand Theater in Hudson Falls.
— The finale of the PearlPalooza festival in downtown Albany on Sept. 17 is a DJ set by synth-pop stars Phantogram.
— Texas power trio ZZ Top bring their blues-rock boogie to Albany’s Palace Theater on Oct 14.
— British heavy metal band Judas Priest join with Queensryche at Albany’s MVP Arena on Oct 15.
— The legendary Chubby Checker headlines a doo wop spectacular at Proctors on Nov. 19 with all-star Broadway supergroup the Doo Wop Project. 

The Week Ahead

— This weekend, the Adirondack Independence Music Festival packs an enormous amount of talent into the Charles R. Wood Festival Commons in the heart of Lake George (17-19 West Brook Rd.). Starting on Friday at 1 p.m., the three-day, all-ages event features music running continuously across two side-by-side stages until 11 p.m. each night. Featured acts include moe., Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Dopapod, White Denim, Ryan Montbleau Band, the Big Takeover, Sly Fox and the Hustlers, and many more. Visit for more. 

— Singer-songwriter Sawyer Fredericks, who got his start at the age of 13 playing at Caffè Lena’s open mic night before going on to win season 8 of NBC’s “The Voice,” returns to the storied coffee house (47 Phila St. Saratoga Springs) for three shows this Labor Day weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Can’t make it? You can stream each show live at with a $5 live stream ticket. 8 p.m.

— On Saturday, R&B pop group En Vogue will get the Rivers Casino & Resort Event Center (1 Rush St., Schenectady) grooving with its vocal harmonies, legacy of hits and entertaining stage show. “Free Your Mind” and “Never Gonna Get It.” Current group members are Cindy Herron-Braggs, Terry Ellis and Rhona Bennett. The show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $50 plus taxes and fees and are available at 

— On Wednesday, Sept. 7, British singer Sting plays one of the few remaining major rock concerts of the summer season, when he brings his rock ensemble and “My Songs” concert to SPAC (108 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Springs). Expect some songs from his new album, “The Bridge,” as well as hits from through his career with The Police and as a solo artist. 8 p.m.

Reach Kirsten Ferguson at [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts

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