“If you see something that looks like a star/ And it's shooting up out of the ground/ And your head is spinning from a loud guitar/ And you just can't escape from the sound/ Don't worry too much, it'll happen to you...” - “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys,” by Traffic; from the album of the same name.
Turning this week's rocanrol reference into a diatribe designed to get local concertgoers out the door and into the venue of their choice shouldn't be difficult. For instance: If you do go out for live music, you're bound to see something or someone that looks like a star; they may even be cascading out from the Earth, brightly and brilliantly. Your head will spin from a loud guitar if you make this choice, I guarantee it. So, really, you can't escape from the sound. But don't worry, with this week's concert lineup you won't even want to run away.
Traffic: “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys”
Clark Andrew Libbey
Courtesy of the artist
Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) gets local (mostly) on Thursday, June 16, when Clark Andrew Libbey and his band, the Last Takes, perform as part of a bill that also includes the chameleon-like, bluesy psychobilly of Slow Jeremiah and punk-folk singer-songwriter Asa Martin. San Antonio popsters The March Divide provide primary support. Libbey’s latest undertaking represents a trend that's moving some of rock's best players and writers toward the folky, plaintive, country side. Libbey's take on this manifestation includes lyrics about talking until “the chickens woke” and “what you done” (“No Promises”) backed up with languid melodies and drifting, sometimes jangly acoustic interludes. The result is not unlike what happened when the Flying Burrito Brothers wrestled the genre outta the hands of folks like Merle Haggard or Bernie Taupin took Elton John down river in search of a mythically rustic America. It's generally tight and troubled music that relies on narrative—fictive and confessional—but still rocks in the hands of those who know how to balance homage with innovation and quirky compositional techniques. This 21+ gig can be yours for merely $5; doors are at 8pm and the show starts at 9pm.
Sophie Weil is a songwriter, singer and guitarist whose technique as Syko Friend wanders somewhat clumsily but authoritatively through an oeuvre that has dark overtones and the sadness of the human condition as deep-reaching, water-seeking roots. Her recent Bandcamp release, Fly Canyon, moves frighteningly, beautifully through a range of instrumentally creative, solitary soul-seeking activities that are sometimes whispered and sometimes just echo endlessly as they are transmitted to others; kinda like Syd Barrett's The Madcap Laughs or early Patti Smith, but updated for the 21st century, dig? She'll be playing at Tannex (1417 Fourth Street SW) on Friday, June 17. Syko Friend will be joined onstage by the joint's main operator, Marya Jones, who'll be performing as Ermine, a project focused on poetically glitchy electro-soul emanating from another dimension. Small Abstract, the new sound project featuring Lady Uranium (Mauro Woody of Chicharra) and Star Canyon (Cecillia McKinnon and Ben Martinez) open the evening's radical sonic rite. It all begins at 8pm, is meant for all ages and costs only $5.
If wanton and wicked weediness is what you crave, gentle reader, then trip, trip, trip on over to Sunshine Theater (120 Central SW) on Saturday, June 18, for a magical production brought to Burque by the folks at an elusive organization known as The Smokers Club. Members of this exclusive coterie include reliably mainstream, gangsta-referencing, herb-smoking and woman-lusting East Coast hip-hopper Cam'ron (he of Purple Haze and Purple Haze 2) as well as the more esoteric, psychedelic, underground-influenced flows of The Underachievers, whose mystically mind-bending 2013 release Indigoism bridges the East Coast/West Coast gap with reverent stylings and outrageous experimentation. Chi-town's dark drillmaster G Herbo is also on this wide-ranging rap program, as are Smoke DZA from Harlem in Nueva York and Pro Era's young new acolyte, Nyck Caution. Mobsquad Nard, a rapper from Jacksonville, Fla. whose gritty Southern-style work has been compared to Boosie Badazz and Montana of 300, is also going to be there. His is relentless rap that bashes its way through listener's brains with brazen beats and life-lived-extra-large lyrics. Texan rapper G-Jet and wunderkind Liam Tracy open. Tickets for this 13+ rap-stravaganza cost between $27-$90. Doors are at 7:30pm; the off-the-chain antics begin at 8pm.
The Underachievers: “Chasing Faith x Rain Dance x Allusions”
I loved the ‘90s (well except for the part where the blond and elfin guitar god sacrificed himself to nihilism) and so will you after checking out the I Love the ‘90s Tour at Sandia Casino Amphitheater (30 Rainbow NE) on Sunday, June 19. Luckily the inaugural iteration of this soon-to-be legendary tour doesn't focus on ‘90s musical trends like grunge or incipient electronica, but rather on rap, soul and R&B. Some of the most iconic and influential music from those genres was made during the years 1990-1999 and this tour reflects that fact amply, bringing together acts like Salt-N-Pepa, Tone Lōc, Vanilla Ice, Young MC and Coolio. Of all these performers, I gotta tell you I still think Salt-N-Pepa and Tone Lōc kick ass and remain influential in American music. Whether it's the former outfit's feminist-sexy “Push It” or the latter's playful but notoriously obtuse paean to good times gone awry (“Funky Cold Medina”), this sort of tuneage defines as well as deconstructs an entire age. Tickets for this extra-loud visionary vision of the world as it was 20-some years ago range from $30-55. The action and satisfaction begin at 7:30pm.