Oh, the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone/ They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on/ And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song/ Oh, I hope you run into them, you who've been traveling so long … If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn/ They will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.—“Sisters of Mercy,” by Leonard Cohen
Well, Dylan may have gotten the permanent attention of the Nobel Committee, but when my old dog Mookie died last Friday (a month ahead of her 18th birthday) I didn’t turn to “Desolation Row” or “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” for comfort, but rather to the hopeful, albeit self-consciously calculated delivery of Bobby’s Canadian counterpart. Serenely stoical, Cohen’s songs gave me the nerve I needed to bring you these songs. I’ve been traveling the rocanrol road for a long time and now I am ready to resume, I thought to myself a few days after Mookie passed away. So, follow along as I plumb the depths for meaning amongst the venues of this gloriously living town. Oh, and if you see a ghost dog following me into a show, it’s okay; she likes pizza and there’s probably a food truck Downtown that can help out with that.
Leonard Cohen: The Sisters of Mercy
Courtesy In Vogue Records
Hotel Books, the project of Californio Cam Smith, has a big, bad—and some would say faith-based—gig at the Co-Op (415 Central NW) on Friday, Oct 21. Originally a spoken-word performer who made his bread and butter being brave in Porterville, Paso Robles and the legendary Lodi in Califas, Smith became Hotel Books with the addition of guitarist Matthew Walker in 2011. After much regional success, Hotel Books officially became a band when Walker moved on and Jordan Leal of the emo band Papertowns. joined in. But the band really grew in popularity in the presence of a full ensemble of players including guitarists Dan Colasanto and Kaleb Thibeau as well as drummer Andrew Garcia. The result has been a style of rock that is reflective of the dudes’ inland roots spiced up with knowing nods to emo and ambient post-hardcore. Terming themselves an “art collective” Hotel Books is touring with the support of Portlandia’s post-prog pop-punksters Icarus the Owl. The Countdown, Witless and Examiner open the night’s sublimely self-loathing song-fest. It’s an all-ages show that costs 10 bucks for access; it begins at 7pm and get this: The tears you cry will be totally free.
...And who the hell doesn’t want to hear some of Burque’s best bang out heroically recognizable tunes? Even in my current state of grief and shocked disbelief at the fragility of life on Earth, I’m, like, totally psyched!
Things will be just a tad more festive, one hopes, on Saturday night, Oct. 22, when Launchpad (618 Central SW) welcomes the Night of the Living Cover Bands. And who the hell doesn’t want to hear some of Burque’s best bang out heroically recognizable tunes? Even in my current state of grief and shocked disbelief at the fragility of life on Earth, I’m, like, totally psyched. For instance, who can resist the fun implicit in watching heavy psych-superheroes SuperGiant performing as Twisted Sister, The Big Spank paying homage to Al Hurricane, or Anesthesia aping Metallica? Sorry Güero adds cultural cache to such sonic indulgences by literally becoming Cypress Hill, live and on stage, while Votives do their utmost to come off as American Football. (Note: the previous night, Friday, Oct. 21, Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) features a similar conceit and theme, with Little Bobby Tucker and Shoulder Voices doing a damn fine David Bowie knockoff, Lady Uranium as the Cocteau Twins and Clark Andrew Libbey donning black eye shadow in the manner of Robert Smith—enough said). Tickets for a Saturday night vision of superb simulacra and vasty verisimilitude cost but five bones in advance and eight at the door. The 21+ action gets going at 8pm.
After that, listeners are invited to camp out at aforementioned Launchpad (618 Central SW)—JK, Joe—for Sunday night’s performance by rapper extraordinaire Waldo. He’ll be there on Oct. 23, as part of the Be Ever Wonderful Tour, for a show that promises to bring to fruition the power of popular music so mournfully lacking in much rocanrol these days. Waldo demonstrates his growing mastery of the genre on work such as the recording Pick Your Own Poison. Tuneage like “Scars” and “Pray For Me” demonstrate an affinity for fellow Midwest marvels like Kid Cudi and Eminem, blending an R&B basis and complex, inside-the-line rhymes with a affirmative outlook the artist says is a result of saying positive things, “especially with how the world is today man. You know they trying to scare us with diseases and war and it’s just like you need sunshine every once in awhile. You need to hear something that just makes you feel good as a human being, man. So I took that as a personal responsibility to make sure that I’m influencing the listeners in a positive way.” Support for this vision of urban loveliness will be provided by up and coming harbingers of hip-hop The SEVENth, Khali Sol, Kemist and DJ Oneder. This all-ages (13+) manifesto of hope and hell-raising begins at 8pm and can be yours for a measly seven Washingtons.
Add to your sense of wonder here on Earth among the living by checking out the multinational, Arizona-dwelling band of brothers known as Kongos when the quartet appears Monday, Oct. 24, at the Historic El Rey Theatre (622 Central SW). Sons of the prodigious and popular South African troubadour John Kongos, his progeny produce a sound that infuses accordion, slide guitar and Indigenous polyrhythms with a rocanrol beat that is both danceable and expansive. While some critics have lauded their technique and output as reminiscent of heavy-hitters like Pink Floyd and U2, I like to think of their production in a non-derivative sense: “Take It From Me,” from their latest recording Egomaniac, is brimming with jazzy instrumental asides, blistering percussion, assured, techno-savvy vocals and incisive lyrics. Plus, the dudes in the band seem like rock stars, long hair, shaggy beards and all (they kinda look like Steely Dan did in ’73, and two of the brothers studied the jazz music at ASU, if that helps you visualize their musical mojo). Tickets for Kongos in concert cost $23. Welsh dream poppers The Joy Formidable open, which is cool, given the overarching theme of this week’s column—I still think their best tune is “My Beerdrunk Soul Is Sadder than a Hundred Dead Christmas Trees.” Anywho, the gig’s for all ages and commences at 8:30pm.