Ithaca, N.Y. — Sure, money’s cool, but live music is way cooler. The Ithaca Voice gives you the low-down on which Ithaca concerts to spend your hard-earned dough on this fall, because eating Ramen is worth it if your concert game is on point.

1 — Spoon at State Theatre of Ithaca, 8/29

Tickets via Dan Smalls Presents

Spoon is the Cal Ripken Jr. of indie rock: remembered best for their longevity, sometimes people forget how incredible of a career they’ve had. From 1996 debut Telephono on to this year’s They Want My Soul, Spoon has peddled a spiky, acerbic brand of rock that sounds oh-so-familiar while maintaining a unique, offbeat swagger informed by post-punk. A big reason for this is Britt Daniel, who’s one of the last frontmen in rock and roll cool enough to wear sunglasses as often as he does.

Don’t discount the rest of the band, though: this is as tight a unit as there is in indie rock and, with instrumentation as judicious as Spoon’s, every musician matters. Listen to Spoon do “Rent I Pay” for NPR:

2 – Neutral Milk Hotel at Brewery Ommegang, 9/6

Tickets via Dan Smalls Presents

The Neutral Milk Hotel reunion has resulted in more hipster tears than anything since Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon’s divorce. While modern indie rock is marred by accusations of irony and emotional detachedness, Neutral Milk Hotel are remarkably earnest. Jeff Mangum sings with a rare wide-eyed innocence about falling in love with Ann Frank amid a psychedelic fuzz folk sound propelled by horns fit for a soldier’s funeral.

And though Brewery Ommegang is two and a half hours away, it’s perhaps the best outdoor venue in upstate New York and, for Neutral Milk Hotel, definitely worth the trip. Listen to Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Engine” (and that haunting singing saw) here:

3 —Lake Street Dive at State Theatre of Ithaca, 9/14

Tickets via Dan Smalls Presents

A bunch of New England Conservatory folks doing blue-eyed soul might get your eyes rolling, but Lake Street Dive are the real McCoy. Like a twangy Hall and Oates or a far less misanthropic Steely Dan, Lake Street Dive songs inspire pep in your step and imagined montages of you and your friends finally getting that dog-washing business of yours off the ground. Rachael Price is a powerhouse vocalist, and the harmonies between her and bassist Bridget Kearney on “You Go Down Smooth” are evidence of what a proper music education gets you. Listen to Lake Street Dive do “You Go Down Smooth” for WFUV here:

4 — Tweedy at State Theatre of Ithaca, 9/24

Tickets via Dan Smalls Presents
Tweedy is a band comprised of young drummer Spencer Tweedy and his dad Jeff Tweedy. Jeff normally writes songs for a little band called Wilco, which is probably all the convincing that a lot of people reading this need to acquire tickets right now. But for the rest of you: the Tweedy project is Jeff writing more of those world-weary roots songs that are the aural equivalent of a warm blanket and a glass of scotch. Sure, we’ve moved beyond Wilco’s auteurist moments — all hail Summerteeth, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born — but Jeff is settling into his elder statesman role with impressive style and grace. Watch the video for Tweedy’s “Summer Noon” here:

5 — The World Is A Beautiful Place… and The Hotelier w/Rozwell Kid and Posture & The Grizzly at The Haunt, 10/17

Tickets via Ithaca Underground
For those of you who like to feel feelings — but I mean really feel them — there’s this emotive lineup. The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, aside from having the longest band name ever, marry immense atmospheric swells reminiscent of Explosions In The Sky with adenoidal yelps pulled straight from your 11th grade LiveJournal (remember those?), while the Hotelier just released Home, Like Noplace Is There, 2014’s best bleeding-heart emo album. Anticipate some cathartic sing-alongs and the inevitably sweaty mosh pit. Watch The World Is A Beautiful Place… play “Blank #9 / Heartbeat in the Brain” for Audiotree:

6 — Aaron Carter at The Haunt, 10/28

Tickets via Dan Smalls Presents
Don’t act like you don’t love “Aaron’s Party.” It’s one of those rare pop artifacts that perfectly recreates throwing a party at your parents’ house — minus the pot smoke in the garage, a neighbor calling the cops and that random 32-year-old nobody knows but nobody kicks out because he brought one of those Heineken mini-kegs. But don’t just see Aaron for the nostalgia factor: as snarky and dismissive as Vice can be, they praised his ability to update retro hits like “I Want Candy” into “the type of party song you want to chug a bottle of wine to” and called him “still one of the greatest pop acts on earth.” Everyone loves a redemption story. Why not witness one live? Watch the video for “How I Beat Shaq” here:

7 — Fitz and the Tantrums at The State Theatre of Ithaca, 11/9

Tickets via Dan Smalls Presents
Fitz and The Tantrums may release albums from time to time, but those are just promotional materials for the real product the band is pushing: their kinetic live show. In front of their impeccably in-the-pocket backing band, vocalists Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs are party-starters in the vein of James Brown.

The songs hit the spot — mostly updated takes on Motown, though “The Walker” sounds like Foster the People actually making a worthy follow-up to “Pumped Up Kicks” — but it’s the group’s energy that’s winning them fans. Listen to Fitz and The Tantrums do “Moneygrabber” for KEXP here:

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.