“Trip, trip to a dream dragon/ Hide your wings in a ghost tower/ Sails cackling at every plate we break/ Cracked by scattered needles/ The little minute gong/ Coughs and clears his throat/ Madam you see before you stand/ Hey ho, never be still/ The old original favorite grand/ Grasshoppers green Herbarian band/ And the tune they play is ‘In Us Confide’/ The winds they blew, and the leaves did wag/ They'll never put me in their bag/ The seas will reach and always seep/ So high you go, so low you creep/ The wind it blows in tropical heat/ The drones they throng on mossy seats/ The squeaking door will always squeak/ Two up, two down—we'll never meet”—“Octopus” by Syd Barrett from the album The Madcap Laughs
Good old Syd. He could write a pop song to beat the band or ramble his way into an insane confrontation with the words and images that proved torture as well as inspiration. He does a little of both on “Octopus,” but the line about a band playing a song called “In Us Confide” pretty much gives up the obscure, adroit conceit of this week’s concert preview. Confide in me; trust me. Don’t close your eyes, and I’ll lead you toward something far more entertaining than ghost towers and seated drones.
Let me be clear: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion doesn’t really play the blues. They may, however, explode in a fiery demonstration of their ability to wantonly march through a variety of other genres. But then again, I’m just an aging hipster who is still convinced that the blues is sad, boring stuff. Discover your own truth about the storied trio when they land at Launchpad (618 Central SW) on Thursday, May 21.
Comprised of the titular Jon Spencer, Judah Bauer on guitar and vocals and Russell Simins on drums, the band has been productive for nearly 25 years. Drawing on a multitude of influences and a commitment to experimentation, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion defies simple categorization. Additionally, Spencer’s onstage persona—which seems to channel an ecstatic James Brown and a tortured Elvis Presley—adds to their live performance power. Local rock experts Get Action! open. Admission to this gig costs $15. Doors are at 8pm, and the countdown to explosive rocanrol and its flaming derivatives begins at 9:30pm.
Located about a half a mile southeast of Nob Hill, Ridgecrest is the ultimate suburban Albuquerque neighborhood. With traffic-defying, tree-lined streets, it’s quiet and almost Arcadian in presentation. It’s also home to one of the city’s newest, noisiest music venues, Duke City Sound Stage (2013 Ridgecrest SE). I doubt they’ll scare the neighbors, but the plethora of pets enclosed therein may jump and whine nervously (but gratefully?) on the evening of Friday, May 22. That’s the night when the joint hosts a concert featuring four local acts and some Tejano troubadours too.
Purple Rock, a prog-rock ensemble fronted by Bryan Ramsey, headlines a show that also features New Mexican rockabilly punks Dead City Radio. DCR shares their name with bands in Austria and Scotland, as well as a recording by William S. Burroughs and a song by Rob Zombie. They’ll be joined by Drink Me, a quartet whose tune “Bee’s Knees” lives up to its title, if you like your rock rollicking and jangly. Expect appearances by Cynical Bird and Austin duo Voxburn (Edgar Hernandez and Allante Vanderslice) too. Entrance to this mad, all-ages mix of music requires a $10 donation. After paying the price, you can get in at 6:30pm for the 7pm show.
You weren’t planning on doing anything on Saturday night anyway, so why not rest up real good and prepare to bang your head like there’s no tomorrow on Sunday night at Launchpad (618 Central SW). That’s right, folks. Sunday, May 24, is a night of deluxe metalcore at Burque’s rockingest venue. Columbus, Ohio, denizens Like Moths to Flames will flutter around the blazing PAR-can lights above the stage while invoking something vaguely Satanic and totally thrashed out. Vocalist Chris Roetter and company do it righteously on tunes like “You Won’t Be Missed” and “The Worst in Me.”
Those dudes will be joined in concert by clean and mean advocates Sylar. A quintet hailing from Queens, Nueva York, Sylar rocks and revolves around the perversely precise drumming of Thomas Veroutis. Louder Than Sirens, Ruins of the Sea and Agony Before Defeat round out a bill guaranteed to earn participants a torrid trip to the tension-filled underworld that metalcore bands oversee when not shocking surface dwellers with their blazing riffs and crazy time signatures. Admission to this 13-plus extravaganza of hellish hope is only $12. Doors open at 7pm for the 7:30pm concert.
Shake off the Plutonic nightmares in 7/8 time that resulted from the above experience by checking out a groovy night of rap and hip-hop at Sunshine Theater (120 Central SW) on Tuesday, May 26. Benjamin Laub aka Grieves will be part of a flow-centric recital that includes fellow Seattle sound-makers Grayskul.
While Grieves produces and performs a sort of hip-hop that’s essentially party music, Grayskul embraces an alternative take on the genre, having been heavily influenced by performers like underground East Coast duo Cannibal Ox. Both Grieves and Grayskul have earned significant cred as part of the Rhymesayers label and are considered progenitors of the Northwest hip-hop movement. Check out “Apollo 11” from Grayskul’s 2013 effort Zenith for an acute example of where musicians like this are going with their space-age sounds.
Puro loco, local rappers Gaddo Spekktakk and Solar One begin the night’s diggable discourse on rhyme and rhythm. A wildly affordable cover charge of $15 ensures entrance to the astral plane on offer, and this all-ages show should be damn good. It all begins at 7pm, kids.
It can be difficult to make sense of Syd Barrett’s work. I’ll confide that although I like most of it, sometimes listening can still be frightening; the moments of brilliance can be overshadowed by wild tangents and uncomfortable lapses. So high, you go, so low, you creep, as the man himself proclaimed. The same could be said for going out to a show. Just like Barrett’s tuneage—just like life itself—it’s a calculated risk. But it’s a chance well worth taking.