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From Taylor Swift’s three-night stand to Pretty Lights’ diamond landing, fall brings a musical bounty

Fall Guide 2013: Hit the Lights

Sept. 19-21:

Taylor Swift at Bridgestone Arena Next week, Taylor Swift will close the North American leg of her Red Tour with a three-night stand — already completely sold out, by the way — at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. It's her first proper tour stop in Nashville since Sept. 2011's Bridgestone appearance. Unless, that is, you count her LP Field performance during June's CMA Music Fest. We don't count it, however, seeing as how that was just a handful-of-songs kind of affair, and the full, proper Tay Tay experience features all of her production and all of her carefully planned, blocked and choreographed stage moves — moves that are executed again and again with machinelike precision.

Swift is a pop superstar, as big as they come, and her arena appearances are larger-than-life spectacles designed to give superfans — the itty-bitty ones in particular — the sort of fairytale-like experience they'll never forget. It's all sparkle and flash, and even if Swift's shows don't feel particularly spontaneous, they often feature cameos from big names. Her four-show run in Los Angeles last month saw appearances from Tegan and Sara, Ellie Goulding, Sara Bareilles, Jennifer Lopez and Cher Lloyd. Care to place your bets as to who will show up for this one? D. PATRICK RODGERS

Sept. 26: Mudhoney at Third Man Records
First Melvins, now Mudhoney?! Indeed, just about any Jack White-approved show in Third Man Records' swanky Blue Room is a mustn't-miss event. Same goes for the rare, elusive Mudhoney Music City showing, regardless of the venue. Not only will the grunge vets — currently celebrating their 25th year as a band — play songs from their critically acclaimed ninth studio album Vanishing Point and other popular favorites, they'll cut the whole gig live, direct to acetate. BAM! ADAM GOLD

Sept. 27-28: Zac Brown's Southern Ground Music and Food Festival at The Lawn at Riverfront Park
After a successful Nashville debut last year, Zac Brown brings his deliciously unique Southern Ground Music and Food Festival back to the Lawn at Riverfront Park. In addition to eschewing the typical concert cuisine of pizza, hot dogs and popcorn for farm-fresh local fare cooked on site by top chefs, the festival's diverse lineup boasts appearances by John Fogerty, Willie Nelson, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Kenny Chesney, Kacey Musgraves, Jason Mraz, Dawes, Eli Young Band and Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, to name a few. Most will perform full sets, and many will sit in as part of the Zac Brown Band's nightly supersets. ADAM GOLD

Sept. 27: Sigur Rós at The Woods Amphitheatre at Fontanel
A Nashville appearance from arty Icelandic post-rockers Sigur Rós is already kind of a BFD for local fans of slow-drawn, spacey sounds, bowed guitar and made-up languages. But a chance to soak in the band's cold, heady aesthetics outdoors, under the stars on a (hopefully) pleasant night at the idyllic Woods Amphitheatre at Fontanel is a BFD for Sigur Rós fans and nature lovers alike. ADAM GOLD

Sept. 30: Blondie and X at the Ryman
Call this an oldies bill, and we'll flatten ya. The greatest singles act of the CBGB/Max's scene meets the titans of first-wave L.A. punk, juxtaposing ice queen Debbie Harry, high priestess of genre-assimilating irony, against flame-throwing 22nd century honky-tonker Exene Cervenka. "Sunday Girl" or "Johny Hit and Run Pauline," "Rip Her to Shreds" or "The World's a Mess; It's in My Kiss" — we can't decide which we're more excited to hear on the Mother Church's stage. JIM RIDLEY

Oct. 3: Atoms for Peace at War Memorial Auditorium
Seeing as how Radiohead hasn't played Nashville since opening up for R.E.M. at Starwood in 1995, it comes as quite a pleasant surprise that Thom Yorke's Atoms for Peace supergroup — which also boasts Radiohead producer Nigel Goodrich, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and super-duper session drummer Joey Waronker — has a Nashville date on the books for a fairly short, rather exclusive U.S. tour. Not only that, but War Memorial Auditorium is without question the smallest venue the band is bound to hit on this stateside run of otherwise major markets. ADAM GOLD

Oct. 13: Kid Cudi at Bridgestone Arena

With three albums, a mixtape and a fistful of charting singles under his belt — 2010's unlikely, Kanye-featuring rap-rock number "Erase Me" among them — 29-year-old Cleveland native and pop hip-hop star Kid Cudi's appearance at Bridgestone is Music City's largest hip-hop event of the fall, and probably worth catching. But don't take our word for it — Chuck D himself urged Vanderbilt students to go see Cudi when he played Vandy's 2011 Rites of Spring. D. PATRICK RODGERS

Oct. 10: Shuggie Otis at Exit/In
A Nashville appearance by cult hero Otis, the psychedelic funk-soul troubadour whose 1974 LP Inspiration Information was the must-hear record of 2001 when David Byrne reissued it 37 years later, is enticement enough. But his opener is John Murry, the Bay Area-based Mississippi expat (and second cousin of William Faulkner) whose ravaging, arresting album The Graceless Age does for basement folk-pop what Otis did for slow-jam R&B — turns the generic into the singular, and takes it into outer space. JIM RIDLEY

Oct. 12: Pretty Lights at Greer Stadium
Last October, Derek Vincent Smith — best known by his DJ handle, Pretty Lights — co-hosted With Your Friends Fest with his old pal Skrillex at The Lawn at Riverfront Park. It was the most recent in a series of annual Music City appearances from Pretty Lights, who's known for his lavish production and all-inclusive vibes — not to mention for giving all of his music away completely for free. His performance at the seldom-used-as-a-music-venue Greer Stadium is sure to be the electronic-dance-music event of the season. D. PATRICK RODGERS

Oct. 22: Nine Inch Nails at Bridgestone Arena
Playing Nashville on Halloween is almost a tradition for Nine Inch Nails, and this year's Tension 2013 Tour is (almost) no exception, hitting Bridgestone arena on Oct. 22. Coming only four years after NIN frontman Trent Reznor shocked fans by announcing the goth titans' retirement onstage at Bonnaroo, Tension 2013 is sure to match the strength of the band's recent comeback effort Hesitation Marks with a stage show sure to inspire dazzling wonder, split eardrums, sick circle pits and epileptic seizures. ADAM GOLD

Nov. 15: Justin Timberlake at Bridgestone Arena

He can do all the acting and hosting he wants, but as Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience World Tour proves as it continues to sell out in various enormo-domes across the continent, we all just want to see the man sing and dance. Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience sold just shy of a million copies in its first week, and his mid-November appearance at Bridgestone Arena is already sold out. We hardly need more proof that JT is the reigning King of Pop. Just please, don't make another Friends With Benefits. D. PATRICK RODGERS

Nov. 22: Johnny Marr at Marathon Music Works
Recently resurrected former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr couldn't have picked a better time to bring his solo band and jangly guitar styles to Music City. That's because Marr's estranged ex-bandmate Morrissey twice canceled his sold-out, highly anticipated Ryman appearance, creating an opening in Music City's weepy, dork-rock demo. ADAM GOLD

Nov. 26: Paramore at Bridgestone Arena
Paramore played to a standing-room-only crowd in the Grimey's courtyard for Record Store Day 2013, but the erstwhile Franklinites will take the stage in much more spacious environs this time around. Good thing their latest album — the first with a retooled core lineup — packs enough hooky, up-tempo incandescence to light up the 'Stone. From the affirmational swagger of "Now" to the bouncy power pop of "Still Into You," Paramore delivers proof of a band that's grown up and come into its own. STEVE HARUCH

Also of note:

Sept. 18-22: Americana Music Festival

Sept. 21: Alabama Shakes at The Woods at Fontanel

Sept. 25: Mavis Staples and the Blind Boys of Alabama at War Memorial Auditorium

Oct. 3: Commodore Quake feat. Kendrick Lamar and Wale at Vanderbilt

Oct. 4: Phoenix at Marathon Music Works

Oct. 7: Queens of the Stone Age at Municipal Auditorium

Oct. 12-14: The Lumineers at the Ryman

Oct. 15: The Beach Boys at Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Oct. 16: Eagles at Bridgestone Arena

Oct. 25-26: John Prine at the Ryman

Oct. 31: James Blake at Marathon Music Works

Nov. 5: Cyndi Lauper at TPAC's Andrew Jackson Hall

Nov. 17: Janelle Monáe at the Ryman

More Fall Guide

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