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Must-Hear Live Music in September (Plus Back-to-School Spotify Playlist)

Great new music is an essential back-to-school item — study up on what’s hot by checking out our Spotify playlist. Meanwhile, these upcoming shows will make saying goodbye to summer a little easier.

Ms. Lauryn Hill [1]

Ravinia, Sept. 1

This sassy yet soulful singer is best known for her solo debut and critically acclaimed album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Prior to launching a stellar solo career, she was a member of the Fugees — which explains her fusion of hip hop and soul into one silky smooth sound.

Andrew Bird [2]

Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Sept. 7

Andrew Bird is as excellent a songwriter as he is multi-instrumentalist. As a solo performer, he melds both skills together to deliver intricately layered alternative tracks. Seeing him live is like watching a scientist in his lab, mixing various components into one perfectly blended end-product.

Jenny Lewis [3]

Chicago Theatre, Sept. 8

Jenny Lewis fronts the indie rock band Rilo Kiley, and also has a successful career as a solo artist. She takes her singer-songwriter sensibilities to the next level by incorporating alt-rock undertones.

Blind Pilot [4]

Thalia Hall, Sept. 9

This Portland-based band charms listeners with their indie folk vibe. Vocalist Israel Nebeker spearheads blissful harmonies, while the lighthearted and lush instrumentals serve as an equally beautiful backdrop.


Wild Child [5]

Lincoln Hall, Sept. 17

Austin-based indie folk band Wild Child delivers an array of songs that vary in tempo and sound. But Kelsey Wilson’s distinct voice along with a sea of string instruments serve as a uniting thread that ties it all together.

Langhorne Slim & The Law [6]

SPACE, Sept. 20

Langhorne Slim & The Law breathe reverberating life into their songs. Though Slim is often classified as a singer-songwriter, The Law is responsible for building up each song with texture that adds an uplifting spin to their performance.

Glen Hansard [7]

The Vic Theatre, Sept. 20

This Irish singer-songwriter delivers affecting lyrics paired with subtle and moving instrumentation. His soulful performances of indie folk tunes will leave you lingering on every word.

Lake Street Dive [8]

Chicago Theatre, Sept. 23

This genre- and decade-defying band offers up smooth Southern soul and jazz, modernized with elements of bluesy pop. The Brooklyn-based quartet will surely take its audience on a trip through time and sound.


Car Seat Headrest [9]

Thalia Hall, Sept. 23

This youthful indie rocker has made headlines for taking his career from his bedroom to music venues across the country. In a little over a year, he has two acclaimed records under his belt, each filled with matter-of-fact songs that offer truthful insight into today’s world, paired with racing rock rhythms.

Blitzen Trapper [10]

City Winery, Sept. 24

This Portland-based band experiments with fusing different genres together, from country folk to indie rock. As a result, the band has an intriguing catalogue of tracks that all vary in sound. The setlist for this show is sure to be anything but boring.

Local Natives [11]

Riviera Theatre, Sept. 26

These L.A. rockers are back with a third album, “Sunlit Youth,” out Sept. 9 — and they sound happier than ever. Their sunny disposition shines through in their music, and their invigorating live show will leave you feeling optimistic and reenergized.

Angel Olsen [12]

Thalia Hall, Sept. 27-28

Angel Olsen’s angelic voice is capable of lulling you into a daze, but while some of her songs are soft and soothing, others show a revved-up side of this multi-dimensional indie artist. Her upcoming album, “My Woman,” will be released on Sept. 2.


Bronze Radio Return [13]

Lincoln Hall, Sept. 29

Hailing from Hartford, Connecticut, this resounding rock band’s Americana roots come through on several of their songs. Their feel-good energy is sure to result in a show that has its audience clapping, stomping and dancing along.


September Playlist


Lyndsey Havens is a music writer covering Valslist [14] for Make It Better. She is also a staff writer for WXRT and Consequence of Sound and her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

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