So last time out I was pretty down, and couldn’t really muster the energy to tell you about all the wonderful live music due to be played in our fair city in the fortnight following the last issue’s publication. As you almost certainly don’t recall, I was feeling confused and hurt by Opeth’s latest release, and the world of music seemed so barren.
But I’m good now; I’m over it. I got my groove back. I still don’t like the album, but it’s a big world, you see, and there’s much more to listen to. Such as…
Thursday, October 13
Natasha’s; 112 Esplanade. 9 P.M.
You like jazz? No? Then you’re a goddamn Philistine. Enjoy your algorithmically generated, mass-marketed bullshit “music.” In fact, let’s see what you’re listening to these days…a quick check of the Billboard charts reveals that Adele still holds you in sway. Yeah, whatever. Number two: Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera. What, Alvin and the Chipmunks weren’t available to collaborate?
Moving on: Foster the People. I have no idea what that is. Can’t be good. Number four: Gym Class Heroes featuring Adam Levine. Wait—is that?—goddammit, yes it is. Chipmunk dude is everywhere. What’s your fascination with castrati? Have the emasculating tendencies of American life in the new millennium subconsciously convinced you that male singers sound best in the gonad-free vocal range? For Pete’s sake, go listen to four hours of Teddy Pendergrass and get your mind right.
I’ve never heard of #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, or #11. #12 is Lady Gaga, and Jackson Cofer can say whatever he likes, but I still think she’s an immoral influence. Anyway, #13, #14…#19, #20…none of this is worth a damn. Next page: wait—Britney Spears is still making records? Well, it’s your fault, isn’t it? You bought that crap in the ’90s, and now she thinks she’s got a mandate.
#21…I can’t even continue with this. You realize you listen to this worthless noise because you’ve been told that you’re supposed to like it, right? You don’t even actually know if you do like it, do you? I mean, it’s what all your friends listen to, so like a lamb to slaughter, you follow the crowd. Meanwhile, there’s an A&R guy…no, wait, they don’t even have A&R guys anymore, because all this “music” is now designed by a computer program that analyzes and corresponds sales trends with harmonic content and rhythmic components. This is true. Don’t believe it? Like to believe in a creation myth? Look it up for yourself.
And this is why you don’t like jazz: a person actually made it. Jazz hasn’t been vetted by one of the four remaining record labels on Earth. It doesn’t follow a computer-determined formula. In fact, because it’s human music, it changes all the time; what comes out of Greg Abate’s saxophone one night isn’t necessarily what’s gonna come out the next, or what he played on the record. Jazz players don’t use algorithms, man. They just play.
So, you can live your so-called life as they want you to, or you can find your own path. Lexington doesn’t get many players as accomplished as Abate, so your path ought to wind by Natasha’s on Thursday. If not, enjoy what they give you.
Friday, October 14
These United States
Cosmic Charlie’s; 388 Woodland. 9 P.M.
I just wrote about these guys a few weeks ago, so instead of rehashing the past, I’ll just tell you that their music is almost certainly better than whatever you listened to in the car today. And by a large margin, I’ll warrant. Go ahead: prove me wrong.
Saturday, October 15
Lynagh’s; 384 Woodland. 9 P.M.
As you might suspect, the process of composing this music calendar consists of little more than surfing youtube videos and writing snarky remarks for a few hours, in the hope of eliciting a chuckle or two from the three or four of you who actually read this page. However, every now and again I find a new artist who surprises me, who excites me, and who makes me genuinely enthusiastic. In the case of Dom Wier, I’m pleased to find an artist who plays straight-up American rock ‘n’ roll, the way John Mellencamp used to play it, without artifice, pretension, or self-consciousness.
Because that’s the thing now, to be ironic, isn’t it? As always, it’s the hipsters’ fault. You can’t just be aware of the absurdity of human existence and still write earnest, heartfelt, true-believer music anymore, right? No, you have to be too cool for that, right? Well, then Dom Wier isn’t cool enough for you. Go listen to your deconstructionist post-rock and smirk into your Pabst. Dom is gonna rock the house anyway.
Sunday, October 16
In Defence with Hate Shrines
Green Lantern; 497 West Third. 9 P.M.
For those of you, like me, who grew up not only listening to underground metal but underground hardcore as well, you will be delighted to check out a band playing the Green Lantern by the name of In Defence. These guys hail from St. Paul, Minnesota, and play music in the vein of old school hardcore bands such as Disrupt, Gorilla Biscuits, Minor Threat, Strife, and from time to time throw some thrash metal in for good measure.
This is not the type of metal—chugga chugga, cookie monster vocals—that they call hardcore these days, but rather the true hardcore that is unapologetic in its simple expression of kick-you-in-the-teeth brazenness that demands you jump around and throw up a fist or two. After a slew of record releases on various underground record labels and a few member changes, these guys have been around long enough to get their point across.
Once again, in this sea of radio monotony, we here in Lexington get to experience a band that truly expresses what it is like to feel angry about the world around us. Hopefully we will have more bands like this coming through our small town.
Monday, October 17
Buster’s; 899 Manchester. 9 P.M.
Long ago, there was Abraham, who begat Marshall Crenshaw, who begat the Gin Blossoms and Toad the Wet Sprocket, who begat Matchbox 20 and John Mayer’s first album, who begat Jerad Finck. And God looked down and said, “well, there’s always a market for it.”
Friday, October 21
Cheapside; 131 Cheapside. 9 P.M.
It’s unfortunate that these guys chose to call themselves what they did, because all I can think when I see the name is the great Rush lyric from “The Spirit of Radio,” the one that goes, “But glittering prizes and endless compromises / shatter the illusion of integrity, yeah.” Great lyric.
Not all Rush lyrics are great, of course. Famously, from “The Trees,” there’s this: “But the oaks can’t help their feelings / if they like the way they’re made / and they wonder why the maples / can’t be happy in their shade.”
That’s an extended metaphor for something or other, but still: ugh. And this is beside the point. While the sort of musical compromise Neal Peart wrote about in 1980 is exactly what I’m so angry about today, in the case of the Tennessee’s The Compromise, I think what must have happened is simply that we’re reaching, as rock ‘n’ roll reaches Social Security age, a critical shortage of band names. It isn’t that all the good ones are taken, but most of them are, so upstart artists are scrambling to find unused words and phrases that 1) haven’t already been used by somebody else, and 2) don’t absolutely suck. And the latter criterion seems to be optional for a lot of bands these days.
So, no, I don’t think The Compromise consciously compromise their music, and I imagine most of their fanbase couldn’t care less about their name, as long as they keep layering sweet, poppy melodies on authentic indie-rock rhythms. See them Friday or Saturday, as the Cheapside persists in their back-to-back booking scheme.