Alt-Nation: The Guide to the Best of The Best

Guitar Wolf

Japanese super fuzz troopers Guitar Wolf return to town for the first time in over a decade to blast out some primal rock ‘n’ roll.  This may be the best show we have coming to the area this fall. Expect some heavy ear damage, and you’ll love every minute of it.

Guitar Wolf and Hans Condor rock Fete on September 8.

Bim Skala Bim

Old school Boston ska legends Bim Skala Bim come to town to skank it up. These guys have been around over 20 years and show no signs of slowing down. For fans of old school ska or people just looking for a fun show, this might just be the best thing coming to the area this fall.

Bim Skala Bim, The Copacetics, and Bears Bears Bears will pick it up at Firehouse 13 on September 9.

Craig Wreck

If rock ‘n’ roll were about resumes, Craig Wreck might be the must see act of the fall. A veteran drummer of legendary bands like Arab On Radar, Chinese Stars and Doomsday Students, Wreck has been pounding out the big beat for the many seminal bands for the past two decades. Wreck has moved out from behind the skins to release his first EP, Wrecked But Right, which is available here This EP shows Wreck exploring dark terrains of dusty Americana.

Craig Wreck, Cowboy and Lady, Zack Silk, and Divey play the Met Café on September 14. 


This is the best show in the column for mariachi takes on heavy metal classic, hands down! You pretty much can forget every other show and just build your fall around seeing Metalachi. Their wildly enthused take on heavy metal classics will have you singing at the top of your lungs from under your sombrero.

Metalachi and lame Genie will rock Firehouse 13 on September 14.

Nada Surf

The first time that I heard Nada Surf was in 1996 when they had an MTV buzz bin breakout hit with “Popular” and I thought they were going to be the next Nirvana. Now 20 years later, MTV no longer has a buzz bin and is overrun by shitty reality shows. Nada Surf, while failing to break into the mainstream, soldiers on with 8 albums of indie guitar bliss.  I don’t want to denigrate any of these other shows, but for indie guitar swing, this Nada Surf show might be the best thing coming this fall.

Nada Surf and Amber Arcades will rock the Met Café in September 16.

The Dictators NYC

The Dictators were one of the first New York City bands to usher in the late ’70s punk wave that changed the world. Their debut album, Go Girl Crazy!, came out before the first Ramones album and helped to spearhead the movement. Now known as The Dictators NYC after the departure of bassist/songwriter Andy Shernoff, Handsome Dick Manitoba, Ross The Boss of Westchester, and RI native JP “Thunderbolt” Patterson have added Ramones producer Daniel “Mad Dog” Rey and continue to play anthems like “The Next Big Thing,” “Baby Let’s Twist” and “Master Race Rock.”  For fans of old school New York City punk rock, I don’t know if there is a show in this list that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.

The Dictators NYC will bring the thunder to The Café at The Parlor in Newport on September 17.

The Devil Makes Three

I caught The Devil Makes Three a few years ago on the festival circuit and came away impressed with their Americana sound fused by old school country, bluegrass and rock ‘n’ roll.  The Devil Makes Three strips rock ‘n’ roll music to it bare bones roots and puts a party hat on it. This may be the best hootenanny we have coming to town this fall!

The Devil Makes Three, Lost Dog Street Band, and The Huntress and Holder of Hands will rock Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on September 23. 

75orLess Records 10th Anniversary Weekend

What began as a music blog for straight-to-the-point 75-words-or-less album reviews has grown into a local institution of a record label. 75orLess Records started when record labels were dying due to illegal downloading. It was a bad time by all business models to start a record label, but founder Mark “Slick” MacDougall found a way to thrive while others failed by putting out great records by local bands and bringing greater exposure to the local scene. This three show anniversary will climax with the annual all day Fusion Fest, which closes out the season at Blount’s Clam Shack.  For a local music showcase, I’m not sure we have anything better coming this fall.

75orLess Records celebrates their 10th anniversary with a weekend of shows starting on September 23 at the News Café in Pawtucket with performances by Foul Weather Friend and others. On September 24 the party moves to Dusk in Providence with performances by The Callouts, The Lincoln Tunnel and more.  On Sunday September 25 the party moves to Warren with the annual Fusion Fest at Blount’s Clam Shack during the day with performances by too many to mention.

Against Me!

Against Me! still belts out fist pumping modern punk anthems with the best of them. They released seven full-length albums, including 2016’s Shape Shift with Me, but I tend to be partial to their earlier material like Is Reinventing Axl Rose and New Wave. Live singer/guitarist Laura Jane Grace is as intense as ever. For fans of 2000s-era punk, I think this is the best gig we got coming this fall.

Against Me!, Potty Mouth, and Frameworks will rock Fete on September 28.

Upstart Fest featuring The Queers

Upstart Fest rolls through the northeast every fall, bringing a boat load of punk rock. I’m excited for this year’s fest because The Queers have been a longtime favorite of mine. The Queers are like 70% Ramones and 30% Beach Boys and have been serving up punk rock anthems for something 35 years. Singer/Guitarist Joe Queer still can play fast and belt out all the hits like “I Met Her at the Rat,” “Punk Rock Girls,” and pretty much the whole Love Songs for the Retarded album. For fans of classic New Hampshire born and bred punk rock, Upstart Fest is the best festival we got coming to town this fall.

Upstart Fest featuring performances by The Queers, Svetlanas, Fantastic Plastic, OC 45, and Kyle Trocolla takes over Firehouse 13 on September 29.

Ian Hunter

Ian Hunter is best known for fronting Mott The Hoople where he collaborated with Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson on some classic records. Hunter hasn’t stopped performing and garnered rave reviews for his set at India Point Park last fall. Hunter may no longer qualify as one of “All the Young Dudes” anymore, but I think this is the best show coming this fall for early ’70s glam rockers.

Ian Hunter plays The Narrows Center for The Arts in Fall River on October 2.


Shellac is a post-hardcore band most known in the mainstream for their singer/guitarist Steve Albini’s work as a producer, even though he refuses to be credited as a producer. In addition to recording seminal albums by the likes of Nirvana and Pixies, Albini was in the legendary hardcore band Big Black. Shellac are raw to the bone sculpted noise to the guttural max. This show should be special.

Shellac will rock The Met Café on October 21.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats was one of my favorites from this year’s Newport Folk Fest and I’m elated that they are bringing their mix of R&B, soul and rock ‘n’ roll to WBRU’s Birthday Bash, a station noted for never playing two out of those three styles six days a week.  Check out their self-titled album and I don’t want to be premature, but I think this is the best local radio station birthday bash we got in the area this fall.

WBRU Birthday Bash featuring performances by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Weathers, and Le Roxy Pro will go down at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on October 23.

The Dickies

LA punk legends The Dickies are making their first Rhode Island appearance in over a decade.  The Dickies came out of the same scene that spawned bands like The Germs and X to make their mark with infectiously demented pop-tinged punk classics. The Dickies are often noted for their covers. I’m sure many bands have covered Black Sabbath or the Moody Blues, but how many have done both like The Dickies have? This is the truly show I’m most looking forward to this fall.

The Dickies will rock The Café at The Parlor in Newport on October 25.

Henry Rollins

Who better to come through a spoken word show a week before the Presidential Election than former Black Flag front man Henry Rollins? Rollins’ performances are always an interesting mix of politics, personal anecdotes and tales from his life in music. He’s well spoken, funny, ripped and an entertaining yarn spinner. I think this is the best lecture we’ve got coming to the area this fall.

Henry Rollins will be at The Met Café on November 1.

Lita Ford

Ex-Runaways guitarist Lita Ford has never stopped rocking even after the mainstream hits dried up. How many people can say they were in a ’70s all-girl rock band that inspired generations and whose story spawned a major motion picture, had a top 10 hit in the ’80s anthem “Kiss Me Deadly,” and recorded a hit ballad with the Prince of Darkness with “Close My Eyes Forever?” For a local angle, Ford’s touring band even includes Kilgore Smudge bassist Marty O’Brien. I don’t want to overstate, but this might just be the hottest ’80s hair metal show coming to the area this fall.

Lita Ford rocks The Narrows Center for The Arts in Fall River on November 1.

The Sonics

Never has a reunion that shouldn’t have worked rocked harder than The Sonics reunion. The Sonics had some great songs like “Strychnine” and “The Witch” and often are cited as one of the first punk/grunge bands. But last year when it was announced they were releasing a new album, I wasn’t expecting much. It had been over 40 years since the previous record but sure enough, This is The Sonics was one of my favorite records of 2015. I don’t want to jump the gun, but this is likely the best show we have coming featuring musicians in their 70s.

The Sonics and Thee Fabulous Itchies rock Fete on November 10.

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