JOSHUA MATTHEW‘S PICKS:
Screaming Females, Waxahatchee, Tenement, The Urns – Bottletree – Friday, September 20th
This show is bringing it hard on all fronts. Screaming Females are a great female fronted punk group that kicks major ass. Waxahatchee is Birmingham’s own Katie Crutchfield baring her soul and getting worldwide attention in the process (as seen on Pitchfork, Spin, the rest of the internet!). Tenement basically sound like The Replacements, Guided by Voices, and Husker Du got into a bar fight and the audience won. And finally, The Urns are Birmingham’s newest best band. They sound like the Pixies, Weezer, and Built to Spill were cast to be on a musical version of The Real World and locked in a dilapidated punk house until they wrote the best album you’ll hear in 2013.
Pianos Become The Teeth, United Nations, Code Orange Kids, Wild Moth – The Forge – Monday, November 4th
Pianos Become The Teeth are playing Birmingham for the 4th time, and the first time as a headliner. Every time they’ve played they’ve blown me away more. When they were just in town with Tigers Jaw, no moment in the entire show was as hard hitting as their performance of “Hiding” from their split 7” with Touche Amore. They mix emotional hardcore and screamo in just the right proportions so that it never become stale or annoying. United Nations started out as a vanity screamo project for Geoff Rickley, lead singer of the former “next big thing” candidates Thursday. It seems like they’re an actual band since Thursday finally (wisely) decided to hang it up. Code Orange Kids will make you mosh like you still thought it was 2006. In a really, really good way. This show is all ages, and starts early. Be sure to show up on time (6PM!) if you want to see all the bands.
CULTURE CZAR‘S PICKS
Sigur Ros, October 4th, BJCC : If you’d told me a decade ago that Sigur Ros would be playing in Birmingham, I’d have laughed in your face. Our little city is growing up though y’all and we’re no longer skipped over by the giants of indie art rock. The glacially paced Icelandic band will bring its soaring songs to the Magic City Theatre (a modified BJCC arena) the first week of October. Having seen them a few times already, this is literally one of the most significant “can’t miss it” performances to roll through Birmingham in a while. The Kveikur tour is their first swing through the Southeast in a looooong time. Don’t skip it, there’s no telling when/if they’ll be back.
Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds – October 15th – Bottletree
Kid Congo is an alumnus of three incredible and legendary bands: The Cramps, The Gun Club, and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. If that resume doesn’t get you excited for this show, then there’s no hope for you. Not only does he boast a hell of a past, his current band The Pink Monkey Birds provides incredibly well crafted tunes that stand well on their own without knowledge of his past endeavors. See a still vital piece of rock history in Birmingham’s favorite tiny little club.
Video for Conjure Man
Jacuzzi Boys – October 28th – Bottletree
Iggy Pop once endorsed the Jacuzzi Boys by roughly saying that they’re an incredible band with a stupid name and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. They’re a spectacularly vibrant garage rock band from Miami that will absolutely reduce you to rubble live with the slightly poppy edge around their crusty garage swagger. Always a fun show.
Video for Glazin’
Chelsea Light Moving – October 30th – Bottletree
Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth playing at Bottletree. What in the hell else do you need to know?
King Khan & The Shrines – November 5th – Bottletree
Sweet mercy I love garage rock and the million variants it provides. King Khan is a shamanic multilingual French-Canadian Indian version of James Brown. Yes, it’s every bit as awesome as it sounds.
Video for Land of the Freak
WASHED OUT – November 6 at Iron City ($15 adv/$18 day of show)
Ride the chillwave and imagine new worlds, as Ernest Greene’s “Paracosm” encourages you to do through its title. At first, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about watching one guy and his computers and synths, but a quick peek at KCRW’s website revealed Ernest with a full band bringing his lush soundscapes to life. Also, Portlandia! Tickets went on sale and they haven’t sold out…yet. Once Birmingham figures out they can see “that Portlandia band” (no, not Cat Nap…sadly), you may need to see about getting on the list or showing your goodies to the door guys, because–unless you’re Grover applying to Shooting Star Preschool–you might not get in otherwise.
SIGUR ROS – October 4 at Magic City Theatre @ BJCC ($42 before fees)
I’m breaking the rules a bit by picking a show at a major mainstream venue, but I can’t not recommend one of my favorite bands and one of the most emotional live music experiences I’ve had. The official band website describes the show as an 11-piece band, which is three more members than what I’ve seen twice (the original four-piece plus the female string quartet who also perform independently as Amina), indicating we are now seeing the remaining trio plus a double string octet, so you are guaranteed layers upon layers of sonic beauty. Pray that they play “Viorar Vel Til Loftarasa” (Good Weather for an Airstrike) for the extended silent break (about 3:30 on the original track): you will swear that time is standing still. I heard it has moved grown men to tears. I might not have heard that. It might have actually happened to me. Shut up.
MENOMENA/THE HELIO SEQUENCE – October 8, Bottletree ($15)
Here we have a double-header of double-headed bands: that is, two bands that are just two guys in the studio (although Menomena is performing as either a four- or five-piece, if their Late Night or KEXP performances, respectively, are any indication of what to expect on the tour). Both hail from Portland, where the dream of the 90’s is alive, and it’s evident in their earlier material. Both have new albums released this month: Menomena “Moms” and The Helio Sequence “Negotiations”. Both new albums are both bands’ fifth full-lengths (fun fact!: the first Menomena album is an anagram for its title “I Am the Fun Blame Monster!”).
Menomena (doot doo dododo) are an experimental duo, cutting and pasting tracks together with a looping program the band calls “Deeler” that keeps the songwriting process democratic as the musicians improvise over click tracks and drums and email ideas back and forth until a multitude of instruments combine to constitute the final product. I’m new to the Menomena phenomenon (say that five times fast), but I have been hopelessly hooked on The Helio Sequence since I heard their “Com Plex” album through a former bandmate. Back then, they were more reliant on electronics and samples delivered with a bratty swagger akin to The Blood Brothers (check out their anthemic “(square) bubbles” for a sample). Now, they have matured into a lush, reverby guitar+drum duo where the samples serve to add texture and layer the songs rather than be the foundation of them. Short version: get there EARLY.
I’m really pumped about several shows. The headliner –which just ended this week, was the rare Amon Amarth U.S. appearance (with Carcass!!!). Great, tight, live act, and a good band to immerse yourself into, if you don’t think too deeply.
In the technical death/death-grind category, Dying Fetus headlines with two other top-end acts: Exhumed, Devourment. They will be in Atlanta on Oct. 6 for those wanting a great, sweaty pit show.
Finally, you’re gonna have to log some miles, but there is a simply amazing lineup in Orlando on 11/20: Sepultura, Anciients, and Kataklysm (if you’ve not heard the last, it is pure thrash/death a la Full Blown Chaos). And, for a review spoiler, if you can make it Little Rock on September 30, Virginia doom-masters Witchhand will be playing. Hell, skip the review, listen to their SoundCloud here.