Shooting for the Fences
Week’s heavy hitters include Flamin’ Groovies, Chicago Afrobeat and Queens of the Stone Age.
There isn’t much right with the world this week, except for the saga of saves by Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez. Who is nicknamed “K-Rod,” one of those things not right with the world. Why not “Strike Out Cisco” or “F-Rod”?
At the Roundup, I’m obliged, entirely unlike Strike-Out Cisco, not to try to get anything past you. These are straight pitches right over the plate. You can let a couple go by if you don’t like the looks of them, but I think you could up your good-concert average by… abandoning baseball metaphors. Life is more like a rugby scrum anyway.
Wednesday, May 7
Queens of the Stone Age at Riverside Theater
Josh Homme, the beanpole ginger leader of Queens of the Stone Age, likes to be quotable (“When he sings about toothpaste, I want to brush,” he said of another singer) and provocative (he’s said the “Queens” is a jab at heavy-metal testosterone overload). Most of all, though, he likes to rock.
With QOTSA, Homme has rocked pretty hard, pretty well and pretty cleverly since circa 1998, and his partners in noise have included Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and, on last year’s excellently varied …Like Clockwork, Elton John.
For anyone wondering how Homme looks in a business suit:
Wednesday, May 7
Peaking Lights at Cactus Club
Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis, the husband-and-wife duo that is Peaking Lights, met in San Francisco, moved to Wisconsin, lived there for roughly four years and then moved back to the West Coast. Does this mean we should feel betrayed somehow, although they are not natives?
No, because the music they make isn’t really something to which either California or Wisconsin can lay claim. A heady, sometimes drowse-inducing mix of dub, indie and prog, it belongs more to kaleidoscopic dreamscapes. PL’s latest album, Lucifer, came out in 2012, so they might have new music to offer; then again, Coyes and Dunis have two young boys, so they might not.
Close your eyes:
Reignwolf at Rave
Even with the proliferation of entertainment websites (thank you for reading this one, by the way), the level of hype achieved by the UK music press has never been matched elsewhere. The great exemplar of this was Suede, a group tagged the best new band in Britain before it had released a debut LP.
Reignwolf is edging toward a similar position: having developed from a solo act—Canadian Jordan Cook on vocals, guitar and kick drum—into a Seattle trio, opened for Black Sabbath and recorded with Ani DiFranco, it still doesn’t have an LP out. Cook promises to release one “sometime in the next year.”
For now, all there is to judge by are some singles and live performances. A sample of the latter:
Friday, May 9
Chicago Afrobeat Project at Shank Hall
When one man basically originates and names a genre, as Nigerian legend Fela Kuti did with “afrobeat,” he’d be wise not to encage his creation in rules, and a major attraction of afrobeat is its funky elasticity as well as its jazzy, rhythmic complexity.
So it’s not wrong for Chicago Afrobeat Project to incorporate American sensibilities and styles into its particular version(s) of Kuti’s thing. And it’s quite right for the collective to have celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2013 with Nyash Up!, which rethought Led Zep, Radiohead, Fugazi and Kuti himself. Live, of course, CAP will get more elastic.
A small sample of the Project in action with jazz great Tony Allen:
Saturday, May 10
Flamin’ Groovies at Potawatomi Bingo Casino
Let’s get one thing straight: “Shake Some Action” is among the finest power-pop songs in the history of that redheaded-stepchild subgenre. Let’s get another thing straight: the current reunion of Flamin’ Groovies, who wrote and recorded that song as the title track for a 1976 album, features original co-founder Cyril Jordan and bassist George Alexander.
A third thing to get straight for a certain subset of Groovies fans: although Chris Wilson came in after the ragged, brilliant 1971 Stones pastiche Teenage Head, the Groovies will be picking songs from the entirety of their catalog. And they’ve put out a new song, “End of the World,” as a teaser for potential resumption of power-pop, pop-rock and rock ‘n’ roll greatness.
Get some “Action”: