The only valid reasons for not going to see the two biggest rappers alive playing the first-ever concert at the new stadium (and thus the biggest concert of the fall) are: (a) You’re broke; (b) you’re Bill O’Reilly. Yankee Stadium, Sept. 13.
2. Vampire Weekend
The VW haters haven’t disappeared, but they’re losing ground thanks to the band’s second album, Contra, which found the young’uns not only sticking to their guns but outdoing their beloved debut. Radio City Music Hall, Sept. 15–17.
Arguably the defining indie-rock band of the nineties closes out the outdoor-summer- rock season.Williamsburg Waterfront/SummerStage, Sept. 19, 21, 22, 23, 24.
When hip-hop’s great hope last tried to play New York—a free show at South Street Seaport that attracted 20,000 people where 10,000 were expected—an honest-to-God riot broke out. Fortunately, you must buy tickets for Radio City. Still, it’s worth getting there early.Radio City Music Hall, Sept. 28 and 29.
5. Gaslight Anthem
Those who have never heard these Jersey retro rockers play “Old White Lincoln” live should think about correcting that situation.Radio City Music Hall, Sept. 30.
Prediction: These emerging indie rockers, at once insanely intricate and anthemic, will be the most overexposed band of 2011. So might as well see them now.Bowery Ballroom, Oct. 1 (sold out); Music Hall of Williamsburg, Oct. 2.
7. My Morning Jacket
A role model of slow-burning success, Jim James’s band of hirsute roots rockers will play one of their albums on each night. They can fill MSG, which makes their residency at the cozier Terminal 5 even more of an event. Terminal 5, Oct. 18, 19, 21, 22, 23.
8. The xx
The trio of barely legal black-clad mope-rockers behind the year’s most unexpected and achingly pretty love songs.United Palace Theater, Oct. 21.
9. The Drums and Surfer Blood
Have any two bands been more celebrated by the cool kids this year? That said, this show wins for most Zeitgeisty indie-rock double bill of the fall. Webster Hall, Oct. 20.
10. Joanna Newsom
Annoyingly twee at times, Newsom is still one of the most inventive pop artists, and arguably even more compelling live. And how often do you get to see someone rock out on a harp?Carnegie Hall, Nov. 23.
11. The Vaselines
Sex With an X
Kurt Cobain famously covered their “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” on MTV Unplugged. With that out of the way: Hey, it’s the Vaselines’ first album in twenty years! Sept. 14.
Eight years ago, Interpol’s debut made them unassailable downtown darlings, but damned if it doesn’t feel like 80 years. Do the well-dressed rock-revival survivors have what it takes to conquer again, especially without bassist–folk hero Carlos D? Sept. 7.
13. Brandon Flowers
While the rest of the Killers took a break, its front man recorded his first solo album, very much in the vein of his band. Sept. 14.
14. Black Milk
Album of the Year
The vanguard of Detroit’s underappreciated blue-collar hip-hop scene, the onetime J Dilla protégé has slim chances of crossing over, but that just means Milk can still be our little secret. Sept. 14.
15. Abe Vigoda
The cheeky, boppy rockers from L.A.’s downtown DIY scene will do, one hopes, nothing more than keep their good-times vibe cooking (sample lyric: “I love my life”). Sept. 21.
16. Robert Plant
Band of Joy
The original Band of Joy operated from 1965 to 1968 with Robert Plant and John Bonham. The new incarnation features Patty Griffin and Darrell Scott. It’s not Led Zeppelin, but it’s pretty freaking exciting nonetheless. Sept. 24.
17. Young Jeezy
Thug Motivation 103
His Hot 97 summer jam “Lose My Mind” was an excellent start. With the release of the album, let’s see if Da Snowman can reclaim the crown of America’s Top Drug Rapper from Rick Ross. Sept. 28.
18. Antony and the Johnsons
Lush strings, distortion, and emotionally wrought weirdness—plus Björk on one song. Promises to be even more epic and baroque than previous work. Oct. 12.
19. Taylor Swift
Can her latest batch of catchy, minutiae-filled heartbreak jams top her last, 2009’s No. 1 album? For a fun parlor game, play Spot the Taylor Lautner Song. Oct. 25.
20. Michael Jackson
Supposedly culled from several hard drives’ worth of leftover eighties classics, the first posthumous release of Jackson tracks could be the comeback album MJ didn’t stick around for. Should it disappoint, we’ll just wait for the next one. Nov.
Iggy Pop, Sonic Youth, the Breeders play All Tomorrow’s Parties, a festival curated by Jim Jarmusch (Sept. 3–5).
Panda Bear at Governors Island (Sept. 11).
Roger Waters at MSG (Oct. 5–6).
The Hold Steady at Beacon Theater (Oct. 7).
Gorillaz at MSG (Oct. 9).
Guided by Voices at Terminal 5 (Nov. 7).
N.E.R.D., Nothing (9/7).
Weezer, Hurley (9/14).
John Legend & the Roots, Wake Up!, (9/21).
Ne-Yo, Libra Scale (9/21).
Deerhunter, Halcyon Digest (9/28).
Ciara, Basic Instinct (10/5).
Darius Rucker, Charleston, SC, 1966 (10/12).
Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (10/26).
Elton John and Leon Russell, The Union (11/19)