Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face?/ Do you realize we're floating in space?/ Do you realize that happiness makes you cry?/ Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?/ And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know/ You realize that life goes fast/ It's hard to make the good things last/ You realize the sun doesn't go down/ It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round—“Do You Realize,” a song by The Flaming Lips from an album called Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
...the realization that a plethora of varying musical genres are awesomely represented here in the Duke City should be an impetus to explore what lies beyond the mystic and obscurantist cloaks created by rap and rock. As these arbiters of culture attempt to enforce their respective hegemonies on continuously curious yet easily mollified sonic citizens, it should be the duty of local concert-goers to investigate what lies beyond the veil.
Without seeming pedantic or revelatory, I'd like to clarify the following thoughts, all zipping through my gray matter at light speed as this week's words find their way onto the page. First, the realization that a plethora of varying musical genres are awesomely represented here in the Duke City should be an impetus to explore what lies beyond the mystic and obscurantist cloaks created by rap and rock. As these arbiters of culture attempt to enforce their respective hegemonies on continuously curious yet easily mollified sonic citizens, it should be the duty of local concert-goers to investigate what lies beyond the veil. Second, The Flaming Lips totally fucking rock and although it is nearly impossible to make good things last, Coyne, Drozd, Ivins, et al have done a fine job of reminding listeners of the importance of making the attempt. Consequently, I'm going to make an attempt too. Here are some concerts happening this week around town that lie outside the bounds of the normative. Because life does indeed go fast, I'd like to suggest you join in and enjoy—even if the resulting happiness is tearful, it will be terrific (said the pedantic and revelatory music critic).
The Flaming Lips: “Do You Realize”
Courtesy of the artist via Facebook
On Friday, Oct. 28, Launchpad (618 Central SW) presents a concert by two highly unusual rocanrol-influenced outfits. Revíva and Concepto Tampor create aural products that stretch the rock's natural boundaries while augmenting its inherently limited reach. Each outfit does this by infusing the genre's basis with a sense of social justice made musically in multicultural manifestations. The folks at Revíva write that their name comes from a Spanish word that means “to relive or revive.” The members of this local septet accomplish their mission by being “an original voice for the voiceless,” singing about “real stories that happen to real people, from American adolescent self-esteem issues, the Lost Boys of Sudan, PTSD rates in our troops, to innocent Afghanis who have lost their families and livelihood over a misguided war for oil.” Using a sound that balances reggae with Latin-American rhythmic conceits as well as country-Western and jam-band influences, Revíva presents concerts that are as thought-provoking as they are joyfully danceable. Concepto Tambor operates along similar lines, using a multitude of divergent cultural references in the most American way possible, which is to say they entertain and inform radically yet democratically. So yeah, rock out and learn something about the vast world we walk and dance upon at this 21+ exposition of all our nation can be. $7 gets one in, plain-jane style, but you can access the show for $5 if you come in costume. (Just don't dress up like Donald Trump or Sarah Palin; that just ain't cool in the world of revitalized revelations.)
Russell James Pyle fairly represents the future of popular music in America. With a sound that is all at once palatably folkish yet resonating with intense emotional explorations and intricate guitar and vibrato-laced vocal rejoinders, Pyle's work has grown immensely in the past year—since he began to work on his own oeuvre. Pyle's debut album, Rise, is filled with an intimate sense of struggle and success that plays out with magnificent melodies and honest instrumentation. He'll be gigging at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) on Saturday, Oct. 29. A former member and founder of the storied and influential Albuquerque Americana band the Porter Draw, Pyle puts a heaping helping of heart into his solo excursions; much like another notable folkster gone electric, his sound seems magically amplified and awesomely eclectic when backed by a band of competent sidemen. In this case the backing band is Dry Heat and the result is a river-deep demonstration of where rocanrol can go given the proper attention to gravitas and uplifting intentions. The Silver String Band and Sage Harrington provide support for a 21+ gig that goes off at 9pm and allows the indulgence of listeners for a mere Lincoln.
Besides rocarol, rap and their various derivatives, a host of genres have at one time or another been the preferred means of expressing the hopes, dreams, desires and haunted existential ennui of popular culture. Be it American or European, the term popular music once included opera as one of its main manifestations. On Sunday, Oct. 30, gently and profoundly glide on over to the National Hispanic Cultural Center's Albuquerque Journal Theatre (1701 Fourth Street SW) for a matinee performance of the opera Tancredi, a heroic opera in two acts, written at the beginning of the 19th century by composer Gioachino Rossini and librettist Gaetano Rossi. Once one of the world's most beloved and popular operatic productions, the lyricism and dynamic drama of Tancredi faded from view as the 19th century world of arts and music moved from romantic representation toward impressionism and, ultimately, modernism. Tancredi was revived and re-popularized in the middle of the 20th century and the opera's story of familial conflict, war, death and betrayal began to resonate with popular audiences again. The Opera Southwest production of this timeless classic features mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson singing the lead role, soprano Lindsay Ohse in the role of the doomed Amenaide and lyric tenor Heath Huburg breathing life and a majestic voice into the role of Argirio. Conducted by Anthony Barrese and designed by Dahl Delu, the local production of Tancredi promises beautiful music, intense interplay among the players and a vasty vision of a form of popular music that both predates yet predicts the path of rocanrol through its stunning use of harmony and arpeggiated orchestral intensity. Tickets range in price from $15-$85 and the curtain rises on the mythical land of Syracuse at 2pm.
Multitalented, multi-genre, multi-instrumentalist artist Charles Andrew Bothwell, more prominently known by his stage name Astronautalis, performs at Sister (407 Central NW) on Monday, Oct. 31. Known for an aesthetic sensibility that music critic Stewart Mason compared to that of former wünderkind, now rapidly aging hipster-Scientologist Beck, Astronautalis is a purveyor of a sort of musical hybridism that incorporates elements of hip-hop, punk rock and indie-vision (you know, like Nivrvana, dudes) into a form of entertainment that somehow parallels, revitalizes and appropriates from the likes of jazzer Allen Toussaint and Three 6 Mafia while somehow remaining fresh, phat and non-derivative in execution. His latest recording, Cut The Body Loose, features emphatically enigmatic yet ear-worm-infested tuneage like “Running Away From God” and “Kurt Cobain,” works that have a dark exterior that lovingly covers over an artist's earnest exploration of hope and the hellish consequences of life with a fascinating and clever use of rhythm, rhyme and rascally musical instrument wrangling. It'll cost 10 bucks to expose oneself to such a prescient example of where music in the mid-21st century is heading, but will be totally worth it. After this 21+, 8pm show, you will have a handle on the newest methods employed by postmodernism while also understanding (if you followed my advice this week, dear reader) opera, Americana and jammed out world music, too.
And if all that ends up being a revelation, well, hell’s bells, I've done my job for the week!