Rise to the Challenge
Attend these shows because you can
“Drive a great big truck/ When I'm old, when I'm old/ Haul the wrecks down to the wreck yard/ Help the boys unload/ Keep my hair nice and long/ Because I can, because I can/ Any of my old friends who have no place to turn to/ They know to call me any time they come through/ Never die, never die/ Stand with bullwhip in my hand/ And rise, rise/ In the desert sand/ Work days, work nights/ Finally get laid up/ By a piece of broken glass/ On the floor of the shop/ And the doctor recognizes me/ As the operating theater goes dim/ Aren't you that old wrestler with the bullwhip?/ Yes sir, that's me, I'm him.”—“The Ballad of Bull Ramos” by The Mountain Goats from new album Beat the Champ
May is on the horizon, and summer is on its way. Funny thing—how the world keeps spinning around while we rise and fall and rise up again on Earth. While the music plays. And none of us is too old to rock and roll. So let’s rise up this week. Let’s wrestle with time. Let’s go to a show or two. Here are some suggestions designed to make that endeavor possible.
Duke City Sound Stage (2013 Ridgecrest SE) is a fresh, all-ages venue on the edge of a tree-lined suburban Burque neighborhood. It's the perfect place to celebrate everything eternal and ethereal about the coming summer. On Friday, May 1, the joint plays host to a show featuring San Diego pop-punk sensation Western Settings. The genre sometimes gets a bad rap, and it's no wonder with bands like Blink-182 carrying around that pumped-up, melodic banner. But when done right—think Descendents, FIDLAR and even (gasp!) Nirvana—pop-punk can be profoundly satisfying. And this quartet from the sunny shore does just fine.
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Guitarists Will Castro, Kevin White and Dylan Wolters, bassist Ricky Schmidt and drummer Adam Kissel collectively possess the ability to make their listeners want to simultaneously sing along and mosh ecstatically. And there's a tune called “Iocane Powder” in their repertoire. Inconceivable! Denver's propulsive punkers Black Dots and local lunatics Russian Girlfriends, a band starring former members of Glitter Dick and Koffin Kats, also rock out. Opening indie-folk act Quietly Kept features Calah Mae and Bat Wings For Lab Rats' Rob Nakai. Admission to this fab foray can be procured for 10 bucks, and the all-ages show starts at 7pm.
Albuquerque folk-rock duo Bébé La La is comprised of Alicia Ultan and Maryse Lapierre. These two gifted multi-instrumentalists perform on Saturday, May 2, at Las Amapolas (6909 Menaul NE, Suite G) in celebration of their latest album High Wire. Lauded for angelic harmonizing, continental song stylings and a tendency to make the combination of viola and accordion sound like a fantastic journey to vast, vernal landscapes, Bébé La La will be joined onstage by an ensemble that includes bassists Mike Fox and Jeremy Sment, percussionist Jefferson Voorhees and Alicia’s twin sister Jacqueline on cello.
Bébé La La
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Las Flores del Valle's dual guitarists Carol Vigil and Leila Flores-Dueñas call Burque home, but they proudly display influences from wide-ranging Southwestern borderlands. The duo kicks off the evening's journey into light and love with songs that reflect the history and innovative inflections of traditional tropes. This all-ages affair happens at a venue that features fine food and sumptuous snacks. Doors swing wide at 6:30pm, and the recital gets going one hour later. Tickets are $15 dollars in advance and $20 the day of the show. ( )
On Sunday, May 3, at Sister (407 Central NW), brave a sonic séance starring The Soft Moon, Skull Katalog and Sleepdepth. The post-post-punk project of mystic Oakland musician Luis Vasquez, The Soft Moon covers a haunting range of genres and gyrations in its current incarnation. Sometimes psychedelic, often terrifying and altogether darkly and synthetically groovy in both discourse and execution, The Soft Moon’s range evokes performance art taken to the nth degree. Touring with Vasquez on his tripped-out trip is a dynamic rhythm section comprised of Matteo Salviato on bass and Matteo Vallicelli on drums.
The Soft Moon’s Luis Vasquez
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Skull Katalog is the toothsome, noise-drenched brainchild of Big Easy beatmaker Griffin Pyn. The dude’s oeuvre works like manic, glitchy, seizure-inducing magic on human grey matter, and tuneage like “Pass the Furnace” is bitching and bombastic. Sleepdepth, Ehren Salazar's local electro project, starts things off with a sizzling, soulful and somnolent set; this is the stuff that dreams are made on. This 21-plus vision of nocturnes sans neckties requires a $10 ticket. Arrive at 7pm, and drift into a delicious delirium at 8pm—just as the first stars light up the evening sky. ( )
On Wednesday, May 6, take a break to ponder your place in the universe. Then traipse over to Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) for a night of psych-rock to boggle the mind and sate the soul. A band from Califas—Arcata to be exact—named White Manna headlines an event that serves as both a hallucinogenic hiatus from normalcy and one of the best rock shows of spring. White Manna explores deep space and infinite deserts with their casual command of a genre once reserved for heavyweight harbingers of Hawkwind.
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Joining this otherworldly pilgrimage are Tucson’s surrealistic sonic scenesters The Myrrors. Reflective works include the enigmatic and the ecstatic, with titles like “The Forward Path” and “Juanito Laguna Duerme Con Los Grillos.” The Myrrors are aurally intense and fucking awesome live. YOU is a Burque-based prog-rock project producing mind-expanding musical experiments that hinge on the venerable vision of Eric Lisausky. While YOU adds a non-Euclidean dimension to the proceedings, lost souls Holy Glories open. It’s only five bucks to attend this spaced-out spectacular. Doors are at 8pm, and the stuff kicks in around 9pm.
The Mountain Goats' prime mover John Darnielle speaks volumes about the future-defining potential of the past in his lyrics. Do yourself a solid, and take the challenge invoked by such ruminations. For both old and young, summer comes, and you ought to move into the light; a great gig can guide you forward. Rise from what was into what will be, joyfully and gratefully, because you can.