It’s been six years since Radiohead (pictured) last played the Boston area, despite this being its third summer of U.S. dates since 2016’s A Moon Shaped Pool, so the British band’s Saturday and Sunday concerts at TD Garden are more than highly anticipated. One catch: it’s the same weekend as the vaulted Newport Folk Fest, as well as a ton of other stuff, possibly posing the year’s worst concert conflicts.
That said, let’s break down this monster weekend in more detail by day. Friday brings another notable English band to TD Garden in Arctic Monkeys, whose new album Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino adds a lounge music wrinkle to the lads’ bracing Brit-rock (and here’s your chance to see frontman Alex Turner’s newly shaved head). Other in-town options on Friday include a nostalgic ’80s bill of the B-52’s, Culture Club and the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey at the Boch Wang Theatre, Afro-pop scion Femi Kuti at Brighton Music Hall and classic hip-hop act Brand Nubian at City Winery.
Then there are the folk festivals, both in Newport and Lowell. Tickets are scarce for Rhode Island’s long-soldout Newport Folk Festival, which boasts a sprawling, impressive lineup even without surprises and collaborations. Friday’s highlights include Jason Isbell, St. Vincent (as well as Tuck & Patti, featuring her guitarist uncle), Sturgill Simpson, Lucius, Moses Sumney and Margo Price (and get there early for Fantastic Negrito, who I interviewed here). Saturday includes sets by Courtney Barnett, Cheech & Chong, Jenny Lewis, Tank & the Bangas, Phoebe Bridgers and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real (who often serve as Neil Young’s backing band), plus an “Unannounced” headliner… hmm. And Sunday wraps up with the likes of Brandi Carlile, Gary Clark Jr., Toots & the Maytals, the Lone Bellow and Nels Cline – as well as a promising “A Change is Gonna Come” finale anchored by Jon Batiste and the Dap-Kings. Here’s the three-stage schedule for Newport Folk. And if you don’t make the harborside scene down there, head to the free Lowell Folk Festival, which also runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with artists playing multiple times at different stages. Besides running the gamut from bluegrass to mariachi, Lowell will even rock out with the hip-hop of Rahzel and the Hendrix-ian blues of Bernard Allison. Here’s the Lowell Folk Fest rundown.
So, what about Radiohead? The great Thom Yorke-fronted Oxford quintet — still intact since its ’90s arrival (now plus second drummer Clive Deamer from Portishead) — has delved into post-punk, prog-rock, ambient electronica and trip-hop grooves in the decades since, and all that’s been coming together in shifting song lists that swing to deep cuts from throughout the band’s catalog. Whether your favorite album’s OK Computer, Kid A or In Rainbows, on any given night you might hit the mother lode. Even the rejected James Bond soundtrack song “Spectre” has been popping up within the cathartic sonic mix with a light show to match. And look for restless Radiohead guitarist and soundtrack artiste Jonny Greenwood to sit in with opening act Junun. But, hey, if you don’t have a Radiohead ticket and you’re in town on Saturday, Blue Hills Bank Pavilion will be hopping with likewise atmospheric beats from Sylvan Esso, the duo of electronic manipulator Nick Sanborn and Boston-bred singer Amelia Meath. Or catch the lovely, forlorn English folk songstress Olivia Chaney at Club Passim, doom-metal purveyors Sleep at Royale, or the jammy Chris Robinson Brotherhood at the Cabot in Beverly the same night.
Sunday brings Heartfelt Bastards’ Erika Wennerstrom (whose solo album Sweet Unknown is indeed sweet) to Atwood’s Tavern after her Friday appearance at Newport. Otherwise, perhaps Sunday’s the most wide-open time for a one-day festival stop!