6 live music shows not to miss this Labor Day weekend in Atlanta

  • Adam Kincaid
  • For the AJC
10:56 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017 Atlanta Music
Kai Alce spinning at House in the Park 2014.

Atlanta's summer music calendar fills up quickly. From Shaky Beats to Music Midtown, Imagine Festival, Sweetwater 420 Festival, there is never a shortage of music to enjoy in the city− except this weekend.

The list of headlining acts visiting Atlanta this holiday weekend is short, but that doesn't mean there aren't shows worth seeing. 

Scott Moore/For American-Statesman
A-list photos of Ben Folds at Stubb's on June 15, 2015.

Ben Folds burst onto the music scene in 1995 with his band the Ben Folds Five, and their radio hit “Brick.” It was one of the more timeless hits of the 1990s, and was the launching pad for Folds' solo career, in which he has collaborated with respected musicians like Regina Spektor and actors-turned-spoken-word-artists like William Shatner. He's an experimental dude, and has done work with authors Nick Hornby and Neil Gaiman, and even contributed to animated soundtracks (Over the Hedge, Hoodwinked!). Folds was also a judge on the NBC acapella competition show The Sing-Off from 2009 until 2013. He's in Macon this Thursday, for those looking to start the Labor Day party 24 hours early (and a few hours south).

The same folks who bring House in the Park to Atlanta each year (see below) are part of the broader Atlanta Weekender event occurring in the Old Fourth Ward (and in spots around Atlanta) throughout Labor Day weekend. In short, one pass buys access to a whole weekend of soul, house, afrobeat and turntable fun at various locations around Atlanta like Sound Table, Moods Music, Music Room and more.

Band Dru Hill, which includes Sisqo, is one of the headliners at this year’s two-day Urban Music Fest.

Singing: All my life, I prayed that they'd tour with Dru. And I thank God that Dru finally toured with them, too. In all seriousness, R&B fans have been waiting to hear 1990s hitmakers K-Ci and Jojo (of Jodeci) and Dru Hill on the stage together.  Though lead singer Sisqo’s huggest hit comes off his solo album “Enter the Dragon,” there is at least a 99 percent chance Dru Hill will be playing The Thong Song at some point during the show, thus ensuring that you'll get your money's worth.

Started by Atlanta Weekender veterans DJ Kai Alcé - a respected Atlanta DJ, and the founder of NDATL - and DJ Ramon "Rawsoul" Guyton in 2005, House in the Park was envisioned as a gift to the city and to the community of followers who attend "The Gathering," which is held on the first Saturday of each month at venues around Atlanta. Visit Grant Park to hear these respected DJs spinning house music this Labor Day Sunday. And on that first Saturday of October, find out where The Gathering will be via their Facebook page.

For those squeezing every drop of the party from their DragonCon experience, Psychostick will be providing a musical, comical bookend to all things DragonCon 2017. Psychostick is hard to explain. They're a comedy rock band whose visual style and humor bleed into their music, performance and the overall band brand. Even their website refers to them as "a... band?" A reviewer once referred to them as "humorcore," which seems about right for a band that blends the legacies of Weird Al Yankovic (that's twice he's come up in one article!) and Pantera into something uniquely their own. Psychostick isn't the only musical act at DragonCon, they'll be the last ones standing when the dust settles.

Contributing Writer
Robby Takac (left) and John Rzeznik, who cofounded the Goo Goo Dolls (vocals, guitar) in Buffalo, NY in 1986, perform at Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Wednesday, Aug. 2. CONTRIBUTED

Missing the hooks of late-1990s acoustic alternative rock? Why don't you slide down to Chastain Park Amphitheater for the Goo Goo Dolls show on Labor Day itself? Not only will Johnny Rzeznik and the boys be playing all the hits, but they'll also be joined by American Idol season eleven champ and Georgia native Phillip Phillips. 

And if none of these sound like your can of Pabst, worry not. In the days and weeks after Labor Day, there is no shortage of rock and roll to be had. Steve Earl hits The Georgia Theater in Athens on Tuesday, September 5. The next night, Variety Playhouse kicks off its fall calendar with a Wednesday, Sept. 6 show from Thee Oh Sees. Later in the month, a similar one-two Tuesday-Wednesday rock punch is delivered when The War on Drugs plays The Tabernacle on Sept. 26, followed on Wednesday, Sept. 27 by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard at Variety Playhouse. And on Oct. 7, PBRFest returns to Atlanta with Iggy Pop and Dinosaur Jr.

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