“Gentle hearts are counted down/ The queue is out of sight and out of sounds/ Me, I’m out of breath but not quite doubting/ I’ve found a door that lets me out!”—David Bowie, “Rock and Roll with Me”
It’s a fact: Music is a balm for the soul. If things didn’t go right for you at work this week—or you’re feeling guilty about giving that bearded bicyclista the finger when he ran the stop sign at Stanford and Silver—have I got a solution for you. It involves the door that our pal the Thin White Duke mentions above. By crossing that threshold, you can effectively banish many of the earthly troubles to which our humble flesh is heir; so step out into the real world of live music, Burque-style.
Of course war won’t go away. Neither will the scourge of disease. But for a few hours, all that may not matter. Given the spectacular currency of this week’s concerts, you might never worry again. But to reach that comfort zone, you first have to open the door.
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On Thursday, Oct. 23, Outpost Performance Space (210 Yale SE) presents the Ngoni Blues Band featuring Bassekou Kouyate. A native of Mali, Kouyate plays the ngoni; this instrument, with a stretched animal hide providing resonance under the strings, evolved into the banjo. In its traditional form, the ngoni produces a sound that resembles a hollow-body electric guitar played with flat-wound strings. Virtuosos like Kouyate use the instrument to deliver quick melodic phrases that are lively and piquant.
Backed by a band that includes his wife, vocalist Amy Sacko; Mamadou Kouyate on ngoni bass; and Moctar Kouyate on calabash, the Ngoni Blues Band performs music that is intensely rhythmic and informed by tradition; yet it’s forward-looking in its attention to influences that range from rock and roll to Latin jazz. Sacko’s vibrant vocalizations have been compared to Tina Turner for their earthy depth and syllabic intricacy. Tickets range in price from $15 to $20. Doors are at 7pm, and the music begins at 7:30pm.
Former BBC Radio One DJ and eccentric electro-wiz Thomas Bisdee, who goes by the stage and broadcast moniker Kissy Sell Out, plays a show at Stereo Bar (622 Central SW) on Friday, Oct. 24. Besides his history as an absolutist arbiter of all things EDM while at the Beeb, Kissy is known for his use of multiple sources in his production of sounds. He sometimes mixes classical recordings with effusive electro thumps that blare out at 128 BPM.
Kissy’s take on dance music also makes artful use of melody that consistently compelled listeners out from their dreary East End flats and out into all-night motion parties with tunes like “Control” and fantastic dubstep-influenced fantasies such as “Drive.” After conquering much of the sceptered isle with these proclivities, Kissy has arrived in America bearing break beats and heaps of Vicks VapoRub. Just kidding. Really the dude’s high-energy stage and sonic antics are definitely worth a gander, and it all goes down at 8pm in the space formerly known as the Golden West, and tickets are only $10.
Easily pronounceable, beyond categorization and darkly anomalous in their sludged-out, droning manifestation, Melvins drop by Launchpad (618 Central SW) on Sunday, Oct. 26, to produce what can be loosely defined as the music of the ages. With King Buzzo up front, delivering brutal epiphanies to grunge and everything that came before and after, Melvins are always a contender for the show of the year. The current lineup includes mainstays Buzzo and Dale Crover as well as newcomers Jared Warren and Coady Willis. Expect Gluey Porch Treatments and perhaps a Hostile Ambient Takeover at this one.
Contributing to the prior pronouncement of a, like, totally memorable concert experience here in the Duke City, El Lay-via-Guadalajara garage punks Le Butcherettes open the evening’s door into oblique oblivion. This duo, made up of Teri Gender Bender and Lia Braswell, brings their sometimes blood-soaked, always blunt and restless rocanrol metaphors exploring misogyny and mayhem to our humble burg for your consideration ... before Melvins burn it all to the ground. Passage through this particular portal costs $18. It’s a 21-plus affair enhanced by truth and terror. The venue opens at 7pm, and the righteous ferocity starts at 8:30pm.
Sacramento, Calif.-based experimental trio Tera Melos have a gig at Sister (407 Central NW) on Wednesday, Oct. 29. Often linked to genres like math and prog rock, Tera Melos (Nick Reinhart, guitar, keys, vox; Nathan Latona, bass; and John Clardy, drums) have far more to offer the casual concertgoer than such appellations may suggest. Tera Melos incorporates melodically fascinating elements of jazz as well as a complex fusion of percussive elements and synthetic keyboard and pedal outbursts capable of reducing Neil Peart and Geddy Lee to shameful tears.
Richly textured and unconventional in their approach to rock, the work of Tera Melos demonstrates a sort of inventive innovation and focus rare among perpetually touring indie bands on tunes like “Sunburn” and “Tropic Lame.” Their split with Texan instrumental math-rockers By the End of Tonight, Complex Full of Phantoms, remains one of the aught’s best, underrated rock recordings. Admission to this cool, calculated concert costs $10, and it’s designed for folks over 21. Sister opens up at 8pm, with computations commencing at 9pm.
Contrary to Bowie’s situation—that’s lucky for you, Mr. or Ms. Burque concert hound—you have more than one door from which to choose this week. They all swing open at an appointed time. They open into places where you can, through the miracle of musical experience, finally set yourself free. To quote one of the Starman’s peers, “You’ve got to get in to get out.” So get out there.