- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2005

If it seems like the pop-music universe is revolving around the District this fall, we have scheduling coincidences at the MCI Center to thank.

In October alone, the arena will host three of the top touring acts in human history — the Rolling Stones on the 3rd, Paul McCartney on the 8th and U2 on the 19th and 20th. Not surprisingly, each of the dates is already sold out. And with face values topping $400 for the Stones and $250 for Mr. McCartney, good luck securing tickets. (Don’t weep, arena rock junkie — especially if you’re also a metalhead: Tickets are still available at the fire-sale price of $45 for Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age and Death from Above 1979, who share a Nov. 2 bill at MCI.)

Plenty of mainstream rock acts that don’t cost bodily extremities — OK, maybe just one bodily extremity — are scheduled to roll through town. Several of them are at the Patriot Center — Beck, Oct. 5; Foo Fighters and Weezer, Oct. 10; and Gwen Stefani and the Black Eyed Peas, Nov. 5.

But, after the frighteningly cool concert market of 2004, the industry is no doubt relieved to see those dependable geezers closing out the season with such a bang. Question is, who will be tomorrow’s dependable geezers? How ‘bout Coldplay? The ethereal Brit-pop group, led by nobody’s favorite activist Chris Martin, plays Nissan Pavilion Sept. 30. Oasis? Those Brit-rockers are topping a bill with Australian newbies Jet at Merriweather Post Pavilion Sept. 29.

Just as likely, the future of pop music will be determined by the country’s increasingly muscular Hispanic population. For a sign of the times, look at the Latin triple threat slated for Sept. 10 at Nissan — Chayanne (a Puerto Rican pop star); Alejandro Fernandez (a wildly popular Mexican import); and Marc Anthony (who, at press time, was still married to Jennifer Lopez).

There’s yet mas: Daddy Yankee, the Puerto Rican rapper who is making “reggaeton” an American household word, will play the Patriot Center Sept. 30. Mexican sensation Luis Miguel will perform there Oct. 25, as will vocalists Juan Gabriel and Isabel Pantoja (Nov. 17).

If any of the above makes you feel out of step with pop-culture trends or just plain old, well, there’s always Elton John — he’ll be at MCI Center Saturday.

But, really, you should try harder. We’re here to help. Two of the most interesting acts in rock right now — the White Stripes and the Shins — are linking up for a concert at Merriweather Sept. 27. The former, a duo, is touring to promote the album “Get Behind Me Satan,” a wild brew of mountain music, country, blues and whatever it is that you call rock when it’s played on a marimba and interjected with bursts of punk. The latter is a smart guitar pop band from the Pacific Northwest led by James Mercer, who is at work on the Shins’ third album.

If you’re already hip to the Shins’ scene, you’ll want to check out the Sept. 26 bill at the Black Cat, featuring the reunited Posies and indie-pop band Oranger.

The Black Keys, an Akron, Ohio, guitar-and-drums duo that suggests the White Stripes — but swears they had never heard of them before conceiving their own sound — will play the 9:30 Club Nov. 12.

Amazingly, this fall does not promise an appearance from the group Wilco, which has passed through the Washington area three times in the past year.

Watch out, though, for a couple of acts that sort of sound like Wilco did before it discovered laptops and dissonant guitar solos. There’s up-and-coming alt-country singer Kathleen Edwards, who will warm up for My Morning Jacket at the 9:30 Club Oct. 10. Lucero, brash rockers based in Memphis, will play the Black Cat Sept. 14.

For those who don’t like the alt in their country, there’s good ol’ Alan Jackson at Nissan Pavilion Friday night. Progressive bluegrass fans can catch Nickel Creek at the 9:30 Club Oct. 9. For bluegrass purists, there’s the Del McCoury Band at the Barns at Wolf Trap Nov. 29 and 30.

And, since we made such a big to-do about rock’s geezers, we’re compelled to mention a beloved old rock act hailing from Liverpool, England. No, not Paul McCartney. Already mentioned him. We mean Echo and the Bunnymen, the ‘80s post-punkers whose influence the mighty U2 has acknowledged. On Nov. 18, they’re at the Black Cat, where you can catch them for the price of a Ticketmaster convenience fee.

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