Rodriguez Tops the Week
Rediscovered soulster comes to town, as do Truckfighters and Wye Oak.
We are at last getting some of the consistently warmer weather that, as recently as two weeks ago, we claimed we wanted; in another two months, we will be wishing for cooler weather until that, too, is upon us. We just cannot be satisfied.
So, as we enter the Goldilocks sweet spot of not too warm, not too cold, we should try to appreciate the similarity between outdoor and indoor temperatures, especially while heading into good concerts. By August, we’ll be attending shows with no regard for anything but air conditioning.
For those unafraid to mix short sleeves and a jacket:
Tuesday, May 13
Truckfighters at Cactus Club
Considered skeptically, Truckfighters are an excuse for hipsters to get their rock ‘n’ roll fix without losing the lineaments of their cool, because (a) they are from Sweden and therefore might be ironic and clever and (b) they play “desert stoner rock” a la Kyuss, which was an underground taste in the 1990s.
Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age co-founder Josh Homme is a fan, so his imprimatur allows hipsters more breathing room, but ultimately, Truckfighters should be nobody’s excuse. Not with fantastically groovy albums like the recent Universe providing pulsating pleasures for patricians and plebes alike.
Get stoned, rocked and otherwise Trucked-up:
Wednesday, May 14
Wye Oak at Turner Hall Ballroom
This will not shock anyone: a long tour usually discourages inspiration. Such a journey could’ve wiped out Wye Oak after 2011’s Civilian broadened the Baltimore duo’s fan base and acclaim. Drummer, keyboardist and singer Andy Stack moved to Texas; guitarist and singer Jenn Wasner started two other musical projects.
Following up with this year’s Shriek, Wye Oak has largely pushed guitars to the sides of the sound and focused more on synthesizers and springy organic rhythms. Not unlike St. Vincent’s recent turn toward this sort of thing, Wye Oak’s change has wrong-footed some dedicated fans, but open ears have found it (buzzword coming) immersive.
Sink into this:
Wednesday, May 14
Protomartyr at Quarters
Nobody who spends a couple minutes thinking about it can profess surprise at the abundance of bands in cities like Detroit, Philadelphia and Milwaukee: rent’s pretty cheap, communities can be friendly and supportive and, despite national-media reports, not everything has fallen to riot and ruin. Ideal for musicians, then.
From Eminem to the White Stripes, the Motor City has had a musically plentiful 21st century, and Protomartyr adds to the era. Formed from the remains of a punk group called Butt Babies, among other endeavors, its second LP, this year’s Under Color of Official Right, draws generously from dramatic postpunk, which makes an apt soundtrack for a city that can resemble postwar rubble.
Also pretty tuneful in its way:
Friday, May 16
Rodriguez at Riverside Theater
The proliferation of inexpensive, high-quality video- and sound-recording equipment hasn’t resulted in the wildly creative and trademarked world envisioned in Apple or Samsung commercials, but it has resulted in a lot of fine documentaries about relatively obscure subjects, including Sixto Diaz Rodriguez.
Born in Detroit in 1942, Rodriguez made two notable folk/pop/soul records in the early 1970s. Neither had much of an immediate impact, and the guy basically gave up, but his Dylanesque and Bacharach-like music gradually reached as far as South Africa, where two fans went on a quest to find out what became of him.
As seen in the 2012 film Searching for Sugar Man, this quest (and the film in its own turn) helped revive Rodriguez’s artistic career. He’s even been hinting at new material.
Here’s one of the most famous of his old songs:
Sunday, May 18
Lacuna Coil at Rave
There are many things to say about Cristina Scabbia, the female lead singer of Lacuna Coil (there’s also a male lead singer, Andrea Ferro). A brief sampling: hubba hubba, yowza, gimme some sugar, I’ll be seein’ some of that on payday and do they have more like you in Italy?
Spring fancies and sexism aside, Scabbia’s melodic and powerful voice is one of the key distinguishing features of the very modern hard-rock band from Milan, Italy. While this might lead some listeners to tag LC as a Mediterranean version of Evanescence, its most recent album, 2014’s Broken Crown Halo, strongly suggests a band less worried than Amy Lee’s crew about asserting its rock bona fides.
Scabbia sure is purty, though: