How to Take on the World
Four concerts light the way
“Well I hate my writin'/ It's all the same/ When it drips like posture/ My head just hangs/ And I hate myself man/ But who's to blame?/ I guess I'm just see-through/ Windowpanes/ Because of this I'll wait/ To take on the world would be something/ I still hate my music/ It's all the same/ When it drips like posture/ My head just hangs/ And I hate myself man/ But who's to blame?/ I guess I'm just fucked up/ Or too insane/ Because of this I'll wait/ To take on the world would be something/ Something”—“Take On the World” by Wavves from the (glorious) album King of the Beach
Thanks for the buzzkill obscured by optimistic pop, dudes, but no one is really to blame. And you won’t get anywhere by hating, especially when you're your own victim. Instead of taking on the world, set your sights a little lower but no less glorious. You can do that by swinging around Burque, hearing and seeing what the local music scene has on offer. That would be something both compelling and satisfying. So why wait? Let’s go.
R. Ring (from left) Mike Montgomery and Kelley Deal
Thursday, May 14, is a really big deal at Launchpad (618 Central SW) as the rocket ship-like venue welcomes R. Ring. That’s the name of the new and utterly fantastic rocanrol duo featuring—wait for it—Kelley fucking Deal and Ampline's Mike Montgomery. If memory serves, Deal was partially responsible for some of the most poignant alt-rock produced during the ’90s. In The Breeders, Kelley’s work on the album Last Splash was not only unforgettable to the masses, it also set the standard for many indie bands to come.
Deal has joined her simple, provocative style with a musician whose band Ampline has thoughtfully explored American social issues while invoking the spirit of author John Dos Passos. It's all achieved through unconventional song structures and scintillating guitar passages. Taken together, the sound of R. Ring is a sometimes sparse but always compelling revisioning of string-driven rock and roll. Deal and Montgomery will be joined onstage by drummer Kristian Svitak, a professional skater who can plant it with the best of ’em. It’ll cost you eight bucks and require 21-plus ID to trip this particular version of the light fantastic. Launchpad opens at 8pm that night for a 9:30pm show. Bellemah opens.
Saturday & Sunday
Follow the road that roughly parallels the eastern base of the Sandias before it trails off toward the northeast and Santa Fe, and you will discover a town called Madrid. Madrid was once a mining town, a ghostly place, a hippie haven and a byway for bikers. Lately, it has become a cool tourist destination that combines all of the the above aspects with day-trippers and European vacationers seeking an authentic Western experience. On Saturday and Sunday, May 16 and 17, the town will serve as the de facto site of the CrawDaddy Blues Fest. This grip of Cajun cuisine and brilliant blues commences at noon on Saturday and continues through Sunday night.
The list of bands and musicians performing at CrawDaddy goes on and on like a giant BBQ sauce-soaked crawfish sangwitch—not that I’ve ever eaten one, they’re trayf. My favorite and notable performers include Felix y Los Gatos, seasoned scene veterans who’ve mastered the electric blues, among other genres. Bonafide East Texas roots roustabout Randy McAllister headlines the fest on Saturday night. A multi-instrumentalist, McAllister's drumming is particularly deft while he's singing the blues on tunes like “When I Get Back Home.”
Sunday night features New Mexican torch singer Hillary Smith, whose engagement with the blues reaches back to seminal Burque outfits like Strictly Taboo. Jelly Bread, an intensely funky, multi-genre group that uses the power of narrative to drive their sometimes twangy take on Americana, puts the cap on what is sure to be a damn fine time. This festival of blueness (and crawfish) costs $15 per day or $25 for a two-day pass if one purchases tickets in advance. They’re $20 per day at the gate, and the whole thing is sponsored by the Mine Shaft Tavern.
If you find yourself in Burque, unaffected by the blues, on Sunday, May 17, take in a staggering array of other colors at University Heights United Methodist Church (2210 Silver SE). A band from Tennessee named Linear Downfall plays an all-ages gig there that evening. Linear Downfall’s personal brand of psychedelia is paramount to the genre’s vitality. It’s serious, delirious material that includes psyched-out tuneage like the mysteriously floaty number “Brain Damage for Breakfast” and the disturbing, ethereal track “Bloodhead.”
Related to the aesthetics of Flaming Lips masterminds Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd, Linear Downfall projects and performs amid an experimentalism that’s refreshingly American in origin but nuanced with knowledge of the greater world. Lady Uranium—Mauro Woody in her electro disguise—and Time Wound open. A $5 suggested donation for this all-ages show will help feed the touring and the tired. Teleportation to a bright place is set to begin at 8pm.
Quintron and Miss Pussycat
The coup de grâce to this week’s bluesy, indie, flower-powered rocanrol melee approaches then conquers on Monday, May 18, at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW). That’s the date when New Orleans’ mad maestro Quintron aka Robert Rolston performs in conjunction with his infinitely talented puppeteer-partner/wife Miss Pussycat.
With an eccentric take on pop that swings wildly from kitsch to postmodern art experiment—all apologies to Clement Greenberg—Quintron and Miss Pussycat make music that you can dance to, have sex to, freak out on or simply stare into space while trying to suss out how the hell these two spaced-out, jiggy artists arrived on this planet in the first place.
Tickets to this trip to the unsettling, impulsively compelling wonderland manifested by Quintron, whose recordings include Science in the Shape of Birds, costs a mere 10 spot. The Angel Babies and Nots begin the night’s procession into the weird; they’ll all be getting underway at 9:30pm after the doors open at 8pm.
Unlike the unreliable narrator in the Wavves’ psych-pop classic referenced above, I’m not fucked up or insane, so I think I’ll abandon all that poetic pretense and take on the world by heading out to a show or two this week. That would be something.