Perhaps it's a Halloween hangover: The Rialto Theatre this week hosts a pair of acts known as much for their costumes and stagecraft as their music.
First up is GWAR, which was formed in the late '80s at a Virginia university, reportedly as an experiment in marketing. Not that it really matters; all the band's members wear elaborate creature-costumes—and while the people wearing the costumes have changed somewhat over the years, the characters remain the same. The group's fictional backstory is that they're the descendents of aliens once stranded in Antarctica, the lowest scum of the Earth, and that over time, they've grown to be almighty interplanetary warriors whose goal is to enslave the people of our planet. Or something like that.
With such a story, you might have guessed that GWAR (which stands for "God, What an Awful Racket") plays metal. You'd be right. Really intentionally goofy—but fun—metal, to be precise, with titles like "Baby Raper," "Slaughterama" and "Fishfuck."
But people don't go to GWAR shows only for the music. The band's live performances are glorious lowbrow spectacles that change with each tour, as theatrical as they are musical. (If this will be your first GWAR show, be warned: Wear something that can get sprayed with fake blood and other liquids.)
The band is currently touring to support its 2009 album, Lust in Space (Metal Blade), which celebrates its 25th anniversary.
GWAR performs an all-ages show at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13. (Hey, that's Friday the 13th! How appropriate!) Advance tickets are $22; they'll be $26 on the day of the show. The Rialto Theatre is located at 318 E. Congress St.
People of a certain age and/or intellect may only know the rap-rock duo Insane Clown Posse for the juicy media reports of the exploits of the group's two makeup-wearing members, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, and their fans, who like to be known as Juggalos. The two have gotten into trouble with the law a few times, once for clubbing a Juggalo with a mic, and another time following a skirmish at, of all places, a Waffle House. Juggalos, meanwhile, have been in the news for luring fellow Juggalos into the woods and beating them to death, apparently acting out the lyrics of Insane Clown Posse songs.
Due to their devout fans and a marketing machine that resembles that of Kiss, the group has become a cash cow, issuing comic books, making pro-wrestling appearances and releasing multiple versions of their albums so Juggalos will have to buy them twice (at least).
And then there was the series of six albums, each one containing a secret hidden message related to the impending apocalypse. Bearing in mind that ICP's lyrics are often gruesomely violent—one song is called, simply, "I Stab People"—that message, in a nutshell, was to follow God if you want to get to heaven. Huh?
Bring your Faygo bottles when Insane Clown Posse performs at the Rialto on Sunday, Nov. 15. The all-ages show begins at 7:30 p.m. with opening sets by (hed) p.e., the Dayton Family and Intrinzik. Tickets are $30 in advance, or $32 on the day of the show.
For more information about either show, call 740-1000.
Though they had previously released a pair of albums and a slew of EPs, Sweden's Peter Bjorn and John—which includes three dudes, despite the lack of a comma or two—came to most of our attentions in 2007 with the American release of the album Writer's Block (Almost Gold), which contained "Young Folks"—one of those rare pop songs, like "Tainted Love," that everyone seems to love regardless of their taste in music.
Rather than rush out another album to capitalize on the success, the group defied expectations last year by releasing Seaside Rock, a limited edition, vinyl-only, mostly instrumental album. And earlier this year came Living Thing (Almost Gold), the proper follow-up to Writer's Block—and another risk-taker.
Where Writer's Block was a decidedly pop affair that embellished its guitar-bass-drums instrumentation with well-placed flourishes of other instruments—like steel drums and the whistling on "Young Folks"—Living Thing is another beast entirely. For one thing, there are almost no guitars on it. The songs have been stripped down to their bare essentials; in some cases, this means there's not much more than effects-laden electronic percussion and a voice. When there are other instruments, they're often used in a percussive manner. There's a certain '80s vibe running throughout, recalling the early days of synth-pop, but it sounds anything but dated. Living Thing is certainly not the album we might have expected, but it's fantastic nonetheless.
Peter Bjorn and John perform at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Tuesday, Nov. 17. El Perro Del Mar opens the all-ages show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $21 in advance, or $23 on the day of the show. Call 740-1000 for further details.
While the future of Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., is up in the air after the building's sale to a developer (see "Toole Avenue: For Sale" in Currents for more on that), the beloved art/performance space is hosting a pair of shows this week. On Sunday, Nov. 15, Horse Feathers, a chamber-folk group from Portland, Ore., will headline a show that also includes Will Elliott. Showtime is 9 p.m., and admission is $7.
On Monday, Nov. 16, the venue hosts Sun Circle (from Vermont and Montana), which Solar Culture's Web site describes as "ecstatic high-volume drones, long-form trance music and peace noise." Opening at 9 p.m. are Jeph Jerman and Glenn Weyant. Admission is $8. Both shows are open to all ages. For more info, call 884-0874.
Led by Tucson native Mat Brooke, a former member of Carissa's Wierd and Band of Horses, Sup Pop band Grand Archives return to town this week in support of their latest album, Keep in Mind Frankenstein. You can read a review of it on Page 52. But it's also worth mentioning that fellow Tucson native and Carissa's Wierd alumnus Jenn Ghetto, who performs gorgeously spare, heartbroken songs as S, will be opening the show. In other words, you're strongly encouraged to get there early. Grand Archives and S perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., at 9:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 17. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $12 on the day of the show. Call 798-1298 for further details.
A night of (mostly) power-pop acts originally scheduled to take place at Dry River has been moved. Phoenix's Sugar High, Los Angeles' Adam Marsland (ex-Cockeyed Ghost) and a pair of Tucson bands, the Provocative Whites and the Runaway Five, will perform at 728 N. Stone Ave. on Saturday, Nov. 14. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m., and cover is a suggested donation of $6, though no one will be turned away.
Gil Mantera's Party Dream, Garboski and RCougar at Club Congress on Tuesday, Nov. 17; Ghostland Observatory at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 14; Switchfoot at The Rock on Saturday, Nov. 14; The Fray at UA Centennial Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 18; ... music video?, The Lovemakers and The Ghost of 505 at Plush on Friday, Nov. 13; Eyes Set to Kill at The Rock on Sunday, Nov. 15; Eric Hutchinson and Joshua James at Club Congress on Sunday, Nov. 15; Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur at Old Town Artisans on Saturday, Nov. 14; Powerman 5000 at The Rock on Tuesday, Nov. 17; Michael Dues CD-release party benefiting Compass Behavioral Health Care at Borders on Oracle on Saturday, Nov. 14; Goat Whore at The Rock on Wednesday, Nov. 18; the "Indoor" El Tour benefiting Ben's Bells, featuring the Determined Luddites, The Geezers, The Rapallos and others at Geronimo Plaza on Saturday, Nov. 14; LAKE, Karl Blau, Great Job and Golden Boots at The HangArt on Sunday, Nov. 15.