The reunion tour of the year finally arrives in Washington on Dec. 7 and 8, when the Pixies play Constitution Hall.
The band that pioneered the quiet-to-riot sound that Nirvana later turned into cold hard cash is at last on the road again after a hiatus that started in the early '90s. Don't expect much in the way of visuals; lead singer Black Francis -- aka Charles Thompson, aka Frank Black -- is all business onstage, and he rarely offers much beyond sweat, song and one of the greatest screams in rock history. But the music, which clamps punk's serrated teeth around the sort of innocent melodies once made by the likes of Peter, Paul and Mary -- one of Mr. Francis's favorite acts -- doesn't require distractions.
Well before the Pixies set foot in the District, the Fiery Furnaces will play the Black Cat on Sept. 24. The band, a brother-sister duo, has made one of the year's most bizarre and appealing albums, "Blueberry Boat." It's attention-deficit indie pop; Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger can't focus on a single musical idea for more than a few bars at a time, and each shift pivots the tune in a jarringly new direction. (To wit: "My Dog Was Lost but Now He's Found" starts with piano that sounds straight out of a "Peanuts" TV special, then cues up a metal guitar solo, then a gargantuan electric drumbeat, and so on until Eleanor locates her pooch.) It takes some getting used to, but once you're there, "Boat" won't leave you alone.
Neither will "Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes," the suitably peculiar debut-album title of TV on the Radio, a Brooklyn trio. The band seems to have designed its songs with one goal in mind -- to sound like nothing and no one else. There are barbershop harmonies, an electric guitar that is distorted and buried in the mix and a drummer who can barely be heard. Elements of doo-wop turn up, too. So do the Pixies, come to think of it. You listen and wonder: Who thought this would work? Then you find yourself adding your own harmonies, and then you're hooked. TV on the Radio plays the 9:30 club Oct. 17.
With a magnificent Afro and a voice that recalls the great soul singers of the '70s, Angie Stone is the closing half of a strong double bill at Constitution Hall on Sept. 25. The opener is Anthony Hamilton, who sang backup for the likes of Tupac before his solo career took off last year with the superb "Comin' From Where I'm From." Both performers are masters of modern R&B, and if you're looking for a "date" concert, this is hands-down your best bet of the season.
Morrissey comes to Constitution Hall on Sept. 29, here to sell "You Are the Quarry," the album that essentially broke seven years of silence for Brit pop's most colorful sulk. "Quarry" is not Morrissey's best solo effort, but he's a game and gutsy performer and he's playing tracks from the sublime archives of the Smiths, a band whose reputation seems to expand every year.
Don't miss the Libertines, if only because you never know if you'll ever see them again. The band has some serious personnel difficulties -- lead singer Pete Doherty burglarized the home of a band mate after he was dumped, temporarily, by the group. No telling if Doherty will be along for this show, Oct. 19 at the 9:30, but cross your fingers. The band, when fully assembled and totally cooking, makes dissolute guitar pop that sometimes recalls the Beatles, sometimes the Clash. A follow-up to "Up the Bracket," one of 2002's finest albums, was released late last month.
Kasey Chambers comes to the 9:30 on Nov. 11. Last year at the same venue, this Australian alt-country singer crushed the place with a devastating one-two of charisma and vocal skills. She's marketed, inexplicably, as worldly and wounded but she can't stop smiling onstage, and neither, once she gets going, can anybody else.
Two more. You know the 5,6,7,8s if you caught "Kill Bill, Vol. 1." This campy all-girl Japanese rock band was playing in that restaurant where Uma Thurman's character dispatched a few dozen assailants at the end of the movie. They're at the Black Cat on Oct. 5. And performance artist and underrated songwriter Laurie Anderson will bring her latest multimedia show, "The End of the Moon," to Lisner on Oct. 21. NASA's first artist in residence says the show is about time and the sense of alienation she has experienced in the past three years. "Like I lost something and I can't quite put my finger on what it is," she said in a recent interview linked to her Web site. "Actually, I think what I lost was a country."