This is a good news/bad news bulletin and it’s encapsulated in one sentence: The October indie music schedule is brimming with concerts at local venues, the hot, sweaty, often sold-out places where we used to see our favorite bands. But — in our truly life-or-death COVID era — if you’re not feeling conflicted, you’re not human. So while we celebrate the return of gutsy artists, a stern caveat remains. Check each club’s site before pouncing on those coveted ducats and attending. Seriously — enjoy, but take common-sense precautions.
First up, Bleachers. The recent, red-hot project from ex-Fun founder/producer Jack Antonoff hits The City Friday, behind its new third pop extravaganza “Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night.” Perhaps his five Grammys play a role, but there’s also something charmingly disarming about Antonoff’s brainy conceptualist Everyman approach, which has earned him the collaborative trust of some of music’s most aloof, inaccessible stars — Lorde, St. Vincent, Taylor Swift and even Lana Del Rey. And even though it’s become a Thing now — Bruce Springsteen duetting with young acolytes during the pandemic — Antonoff was the first to lure him down from his lofty aerie with “Saturday Night’s” scrappy single “Chinatown.” Health check required for admittance.
Where: Masonic, 1111 California St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 16
Tickets: $37 to $125
Next, Minneapolis folk-rock outfit The Jayhawks play a two-night run Oct. 23 and 24, backing the 2020 release “XOXO” plus bandleader Gary Louris’ new solo set “Jump For Joy.” The lockdown changed everything for him, especially when riots tore his town apart after the death of George Floyd. Usually, he composed from a selfish perspective. “But this time, I wanted to write a song that translates to other people and helps them,” he said of the climate change-themed “Homecoming,” the isolation study “Living in a Bubble” and a self-explanatory “New Normal.” Mission accomplished. Proof of full vaccination required to hear these uplifting numbers live.
Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 and Oct. 23; 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24
We would be remiss not to note the return of reigning Nashville songwriting queen Brandy Clark on Oct. 28. Her spring 2020 tour celebrating her then-new “Your Life Is a Record” album — which went on to be nominated for a Grammy — was cut short by the coronavirus, and she’s been restlessly sheltering in place since. Which, since she works from home, didn’t necessarily affect her productivity. Her motivation? Landing a “side,” or a credit on a country music star’s record, working alongside empathic co-writers. Her method? Brew a strong pop of coffee, usually Peet’s, punch in at 10 a.m., and by quitting time, 6 p.m., hopefully have a song as brilliant as her definitive “Stripes” in the can. It’s a job, like any other.
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 28
Then? Britain’s great alt-rock quartet Wolf Alice touches down Oct. 30, touting its recent third outing, “Blue Weekend.” Front woman Ellie Rowsell and cohorts fine-tuned these kinetic cuts in late February 2020 at a live-work Brussels studio, where they wound up getting trapped there during the pandemic. But they sent out regular beacons of hope via their chatty mailing list, which kept fans apprised of band activities. “We’ve missed playing live, we’ve missed meeting all the fans and just people who like music — it’s just been sad, so any way that we can keep connected is good for us,” wrote Rowsell.
Where: August Hall, 420 Mason St., S.F.
When: 8:30 p.m. Oct. 30
Tickets: $27.50 (sold out)
And finally, Britain’s campy glam-rock champions The Struts, also on Oct. 30, at — believe it or not — our fabulous Fillmore! Which is reason enough to venture back out into the club-hopping fray. Luke Spiller and his Slade-schooled lads stayed quite content during lockdown, Zoom-tracking covers like “We Will Rock You” by their heroes Queen, and jumped headlong into their new “Strange Days” effort, collaborating with Robbie Williams, Paris Jackson, Albert Hammond Jr. and even Def Leppard’s Phil Collen and Joe Elliott. The live version, which requires a health check, is aptly dubbed the Strange Days Are Over Tour. Hey — from their lips to God’s ears, right?
Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 30