Sunday, May 1, 2016

This Week's Shows (5/2 - 5/8)

This is a particularly streamlined edition of TWS.  I could say it's because we all need to rest up for next week's Shaky Knees festival, but the truth is that I'm suffering some sort of internet connectivity problem that I can't quite figure out.  I can access some sites, like this, quite readily, but I can't get to other URLs, like every venue's website, despite multiple reboots, unplugging and re-plugging of modems, and all manner of other attempted fixes, and had to research most of this post using my iPhone.  But, still, there's some good shows this week that still deserve mention despite my problems (it's not about me), culminating in Saturday night's sold-out Animal Collective show at Buckhead Theater.  

As always, please keep in mind that musicians and night-club proprietors lead complicated lives and I'm prone to errors, mistakes, typos, and fubars; it's advisable to confirm any of the information below on your own before making plans.


Lupe Fiasco (Terminal West)
Lupe Fiasco is an acclaimed and uncompromising Chicago rapper whose lyrics take on countless political and social issues. 

Megadeath (The Tabernacle)
Led by Dave Mustaine, Megadeath are one of the most popular and important thrash metal bands, with music that contains strong social and political messages. 


Woods (Purgatory at The Masquerade)
The underground psychedelic folk-rockers alternate between pastoral songcraft and otherworldly strangeness. 

Chelsea Wolfe (Heaven at The Masquerade)
A darkly distinctive singer/songwriter with nods to electronic, folk, and metal, Wolfe has attaracted an almost cult-like following. 

Chelsea Wolfe at The Earl, January 30, 2013
Bullet For My Valentine (The Tabernacle)
Welsh metal band who built up a large fan base by blending muscular riffs and emo harmonies. 


Wild Belle (The Earl)
Chicago-based brother-and-sister duo make folk, dance, and psychedelic-tinged indie pop. 

Wild Belle at Shaky Knees, 2014

Kamasi Washington (Variety Playhouse)
On paper, I should really like this saxophonist who has drawn comparisons to Pharoah Sanders and John Coltrane, and whose connections include Gerald Wilson and Raphael Saadiq, but somehow he just hasn't clicked yet with me.  But it's not about me.  A crucial part of L.A.'s progressive jazz scene, Washington released the expansive LP The Epic in 2015. 

Citizen Cope (Center Stage)
Cope creates a soulful blend of folk-R&B with laid-back reggaefied beats and the occasional hip-hop flourish. 

Queensrÿche (Heaven at The Masquerade)
This Seattle quintet constructed a progressive form of heavy metal drawing equally from guitar pyrotechnics and art rock. 

Mother's Finest (Eddie's Attic)
Two sold-out shows in one night by popular Georgia funk rock band Mother's Finest. 


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (The Earl)
Freaked-out psychedelic madness by way of Melbourne, Australia. 

Larkin Poe (Terminal West)
Southern roots rockers who formed after the Lovell Sisters called it a day in 2009. 


The Deslondes (The Earl)
Loose but lively country-influenced band featuring five musicians who found their groove in New Orleans. 

La Luz (Aisle 5)
La Luz are a Seattle-based quartet that mixes up doo wop, surf music, girl group sounds, and indie rock into one smart package. 

La Luz at Bumbershoot, 2014
Liz Vice (Eddie's Attic)
Elizabeth Lorraine "Liz" Vice is a gospel music recording artist and musician from Portland, whose music career started in 2015 with the studio album, There's a Light.

Bring Me The Horizon (The Tabernacle)
Popular U.K. metalcore band.

Disturbed, Rob Zombie (Aaron's Amphitheater)
Disturbed are a multi-platinum nü metal band from Chicago, bolstered by their songs' melodic complexity and by swaggering frontman David Draiman.  Rob Zombie was the lead vocalist of hard rockers White Zombie who went on to a solo career that blends gore-inspired lyrics with heavy, abrasive rock. 

Freddie Gibbs (Hell at The Masquerade)
Influenced by 2Pac, Biggie, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, this Midwest rapper came up through the world of Internet downloads and mixtapes. 


Animal Collective (Buckhead Theater)
Their best LPs are apparently now behind them, but this innovative and acclaimed indie band with a penchant for experimental electronics, childlike campfire folk, and a warped take on Beach Boys harmonies can still be counted on for a wild and interesting live show. 

Animal Collective at tHe Tabernacle, October 2012
Old 97s, Heartless Bastards (Terminal West)
Led by Rhett Miller, Old 97s are a second-wave alt-country band from Dallas that mixes twang-filled rock and power pop. Heartless Bastards are a smart, scrappy, and muscular roots rock band led by Erika Wennerstrom that fuses blues, hard rock, punk, and country. 

Old 97s (with Nikki Lane), Shaky Knees 2015
Heartless Bastards at Shaky Knees, 2015
Steep Canyon Rangers (Variety Playhouse)
This band of young souls plays old-time bluegrass music.


Secret Sisters (Eddie's Attic)
Secret Sisters are a Muscle Shoals-based country-folk duo.

California Honeydrops (Park Tavern)
Formed in 2007 by playing in the subway stations of Oakland, California, The Honeydrops are a blues and R&B band whose sound is tied to their instrumentation, vocal harmonies, and NOLA style.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Father John Misty at The Tabernacle, Atlanta, April 29, 2016

We've already seen Father John Misty perform in Atlanta several times, at The Masquerade, Terminal West, and Variety Playhouse, but his performance last evening at The Tabernacle was by far the best we've seen yet, a solid set by a natural-born entertainer comfortable with and confident in his material and rapport with the audience.

The opener, a duo called Tess & Dave, resembled nothing so much as a bad Father John parody act, accompanied by a singing mime for some reason. 

The mime's biggest applause came when she returned to the stage in a different outfit ("Wow, she changed her clothes!").  Dave did most of the heavy lifting, and they sang to recorded music for the first part of their set, then to their own guitar accompaniment, and finally with some keyboards and and percussion.  They danced some, poorly, and reminded me of nothing more than what one might expect from a Father John Misty "tribute" act playing at the Long Beach Marriott.  The most surprising thing was that Josh Tillman allowed them to be his opening act.

FJM and company came on stage at 9:00 pm sharp, and as it turns out, both Tess and Dave are a part of his touring band, so that explains that.   He started his set right off with Every Man Needs A Companion, followed by Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and had the entire audience right in the palm of his hand for the next 90 minutes or so. 

In previous Father John shows, Tillman undermined his own performance with self-effacing stage banter and goofy stage antics.  He still danced around like a goofus at times, but he seemed much more focused on playing his music and delivering his songs than in the past, and the result was the best FJM show we've seen yet.  The change in his delivery might have been because last night's set was being webcast live by Yahoo Music, although that might just as easily have been call for even more foolishness than before, but it's more likely that Tillman has finally found a connection through his songs with the audience, and is now more than glad to share the musical experience with the crowd. 

This isn't to say that the show didn't have its moments of patented Josh Tillman playfulness, and sometimes he seemed aloof and above it all, and at other times as passionate as a Memphis soul singer, and at still other times an excitable rock 'n' roller. 

Here's a little sample, part of my very occasional 30 Seconds of . . . video series, of Father John during his song Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow, that gives you an idea of how skillful he was at manipulating the audience. 

I didn't keep track, but I think he covered just about every song from his two albums, Fear Fun and I Love You Honeybear.  I honestly can't think of anything he didn't play.  And there were more fun and sublime moments than I recall, such as getting the audience to contribute the laugh track at the appropriate part of Bored In The USA. or the sing-alongs during Honeybear and When You're Smiling and Astride Me.

For his encore, he came on stage alone and played a lovely unaccompanied version of his ballad I Went To The Store, the most unapologetically romantic song off I Love You Honeybear, but then the band joined him on stage and surprised just about everybody, or at least me, by performing a faithful and scorching cover of Nine Inch Nails' Closer ("I want to fuck you like an animal"), even falling to his knees as he delivered the line "You get me closer to god."  As you can imagine, that got the audience going, and he even leaned off the stage to touch the audience and let them touch him (I got to touch his arm and hair).  

At the end of all that frenzy, he played a loud, noisy, almost punk version of The Ideal Husband from Honeybear, working the audience up even more, and when the house lights finally came on, Tillman danced on the stage as Drake's hip-hop anthem Legend off of If You're Reading This It's Too Late played over the PA system.  He encouraged the audience to dance along too, and when he had all of us dancing, Father John finally left the stage and let the dance party continue on its own.

This is going to be a hard show to top.  Father John just set the bar pretty goddamn high.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Sturgill Simpson

This goes well beyond the simple cover concept - it's not a "country version of a Nirvana song," but another artist taking the song, inhabiting it, and making it his own.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Polica at Bumbershoot, 2014
Like Radiation City's Elisabeth Ellison, Channy Leneagh of Polica has also changed up her look a little bit, too, but is also sounding as good (or better) as ever.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Radiation City

Since playing at The Earl back on February 27, Radiation City's Elisabeth Ellison (above) got a cool new haircut, but during their recent stop at KEXP, the band still sounds just as great as ever.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Festival Forecast

First, I'll say this - the lineup for this year's Bumbershoot Festival is better than last year's (last year was the first time in five years that I didn't go), but still not good enough to get me to fly cross country.  While there's a few good headliners (Tame Impala, Father John Misty, etc.), there's way too much EDM and hip-hop for my tastes, and many of the better bands left on the bill (Explosions In The Sky, Andrew Bird, Hinds, Lemolo, etc.) either have or will be passing through Atlanta.  It looks like that once again I'll be sitting this one out.

Meanwhile, though, look how far MFNW has fallen.  Those years that I went to Bumbershoot, I was really in Seattle just as a prelude to the following week's MusicFest NW in Portland. However, starting in 2014, MFNW went from a multi-venue, SXSW/CMJ-type format to just another weekend with some stages out in the sun, and the number of bands fell from close to 100 to less than a dozen. Now, it looks like the once mighty MFNW is just a vehicle for the traveling Project Pabst revue, which is coming to Atlanta in early October anyway.  There are so few bands on this bill worth seeing that you could count them on one hand and still have a finger left over to flip the producers the bird (that's four bands - Coathangers, UMO, Parquet Courts, and Tame Impala - for those of you not good at math or currently on drugs), and even if the exact Portland lineup plays here in town, I might not go for having to endure the rest. 

unnamed (3)

Really kind of makes you proud of our home town and appreciate next month's Shaky Knees lineup, arguably the best lineup of any festival so far this year:

Monday, April 25, 2016


Vetiver at Bumbershoot, 2011
Vetiver, who will be playing at Vinyl this Saturday night, is a folk-rock band headed by the San Francisco troubadour Andy Cabic that was formed in 2002 and released their self-titled debut album in 2004. Following the album's release, Vetiver toured extensively, opening for and collaborating with Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. Over the years, the band has also toured with Fleet Foxes, The Shins, Fruit Bats, and Wilco.  Vetiver released their second album, To Find Me Gone, in 2006, followed by Thing of the Past in 2008 and Tight Knit  in 2009.  We first saw them at Smith's Olde Bar in 2010, when they were touring with Dawes, and then at Bumbershoot in 2011, when they were touring in support of The Errant Charm album.  Following The Errant Charm, band members Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman left Vetiver to form Pure Bathing Culture, but the band persevered and last year, Vetiver released Complete Strangers.  

The point being, Vetiver have been around for a while now and will be playing Vinyl this Saturday night.  Here they are last summer at Pickathon: