After an extensive renovation, Plush, one of the few local venues that features live music seven nights a week, will reopen on Tuesday, Feb. 8. (The first show will be by Murder by Death; see our feature article.)
I can't imagine I'm the only one who can't wait to see what they've done with the joint. But by the time it reopens, the club will have been closed for roughly three weeks. That's a lot of shows that haven't happened. However, Club Congress and Plush largely draw the same size acts to their respective stages, and it seems Congress has been picking up Plush's slack in its absence. (If this sounds familiar, it should: We mentioned it last week in this space.) Just take a look at the string of shows taking place at the hotel this week.
I'll admit it: The variety of techno designed strictly to make you dance is not my thing; I'm not much of a dancer. But an awful lot of people love the stuff, and you'll likely find them at Congress on Friday, Feb. 4, when world famous DJ Christopher Lawrence takes over the club with his spin (pun intended) on techno trance. Lawrence has played the Coachella music festival more times than any other DJ, and in 2008 was named America's Best DJ by DJ Times. Doors open at 9 p.m., and tickets are $10 in advance, or $15 on the day of the show.
The young British songwriter Bobby Long takes the stage on Saturday, Feb. 5. Best known for co-writing the song "Let Me Sign," which appeared on the soundtrack for the teen vampire flick Twilight in a version sung by fellow hunky Brit Robert Pattinson (Team Edward 4eva!), Long is a romantic, husky-voiced folkie who will surely make tweens of all ages swoon. After self-releasing a trio of albums, Long signed with ATO Records, which was co-founded by, among others, Dave Matthews and Michael McDonald. Following an EP, Stranger Songs, released on ATO in November, the label issued a full-length, A Winter Tale, earlier this week. His all-ages show at Congress will start at 7:30 p.m. with opening sets by Andrew Collberg and Courtney Robbins. Admission is $10.
After graduating from college in Colorado, Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore bought a sailboat and headed out to sea for seven months along the Eastern Seaboard. When they returned to Colorado following the voyage, they wanted to document the stories about their adventure in some way. Riley had played guitar in a few bands while in college, and Moore was a classically trained pianist, so the pair settled on writing some songs.
During their trip, Riley and Moore, now married, listened to a lot of simple pop songs, and they decided that would set the tone for the songs they wrote themselves. The result is Tennis, which, after releasing a pair of singles, released its debut album, Cape Dory, on Fat Possum in January. Like so many bands these days, the duo pays homage to early '50s rock 'n' roll and the girl groups of the '60s; think Best Coast without the distorted guitar. And while there may not be much that's original about Tennis, its charms, not the least of which is Moore's sweet, crystalline croon, are bountiful.
Tennis performs an early all-ages show at Club Congress on Monday, Feb. 7. Air Waves opens at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, or $12 on the day of the show.
After the demise of his band The Broken West, Ross Flournoy had a case of writer's block. So when Carrie Brownstein, former singer-guitarist for Sleater-Kinney and current star of Portlandia, issued a songwriting challenge via her NPR blog Monitor Mix (which she recently abandoned), Flournoy took her up on it. The challenge was to write and record a song including the words "dog," "firecracker," "lamp shade," "Japan" and "NPR" in a single weekend, and though the only one of those words he managed to use in his song was "dog," the contest got Flournoy back in the writing groove.
That song, the appropriately titled "Under the Gun," is one of the standout tracks on The Year of Magical Drinking, the debut album by Flournoy's new band Apex Manor, which was released on Merge on Jan. 25. The song, a propulsive ditty with a guitar hook as catchy as its melody (which is to say, very catchy), could pass by without notice if it were included on the next Wilco album (yes, that's a compliment). Wilco is a pretty good starting point in describing Apex Manor's sound, though it's stripped of any semblance of twang. Throw the Lemonheads into the mix, and you've got a pretty good idea of what to expect; if you're a fan of those two bands, you won't find much to dislike about The Year of Magical Drinking.
Apex Manor performs at Club Congress next Thursday, Feb. 10. Roll Acosta opens the early show at 7:30 p.m. $8 gets you in the doors.
The Apex Manor show, like all Congress shows that fall on a Thursday, is an early one to make room for what follows: the ever-popular dance night Optimist Club, presided over by the club's Dan Hernandez. In the last year or so, Hernandez has been bringing touring bands and DJs into the Opti Club fold, and next Thursday will feature what might just be his biggest get yet: Das Racist.
Comprising MCs Victor Vazquez and Himanshu Suri, and hype man Dap (nee Ashok Kondabolu), Das Racist—which began life, like MGMT and several other acts, at Wesleyan College—is one of the most innovative hip-hop acts out there right now. The group first gained recognition in 2008 with its hilarious, sinisterly catchy joke of a song, "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," but that was only a taste of the awesomeness to come: Last year, the trio released a pair of free-for-download mixtapes, Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man, that landed them on many critics' year-end Top 10 lists (including mine). Combining largely skeletal beats, cultural criticism ("Fake Patois" takes on singers and rappers who adopt a fake Jamaican accent when they think a song calls for it) and pop-cultural references at every turn, the group satirizes hip-hop culture as much as it worships it.
Das Racist performs at Congress' Optimist Club next Thursday, Feb. 10. Admission is $3, or free with an Opti Club membership card.
Club Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. For more information about any of these shows, head to hotelcongress.com, or call 622-8848.
Club Congress isn't the only game in town this week, of course, just the busiest. Here's a quick look at a trio of great shows the Rialto Theatre's got on tap.
On Friday, Feb. 4, the theater welcomes the legendary Afrika Bambaataa, universally regarded as one of the founders of hip-hop. Sonario opens at 8 p.m., and tickets are $20 in advance, or $22 on the day of the show.
The following night, Saturday, Feb. 5, Howe Gelb's Giant Sand performs on the Rialto stage for the first time since 1999, when they shared a bill with Pavement and the Dirty Three. Lonna Kelley and Kiss and the Tells open the show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance, or $15 on the day of the show. And next Thursday, Feb. 10, the theater hosts a return appearance by the killer Latin funk band Grupo Fantasma, which last performed there in June. Spirit Familia opens at 8 p.m., and tickets are $13 in advance, or $15 on the day of the show.
The Rialto Theatre is located at 318 E. Congress St. All shows are all-ages. For more info, go to rialtotheatre.com, or call 740-1000.
Key Ingredients of African Soul headlining a Black History Month kickoff family show at Dunbar Dance and Arts Academy, 325 W. Second St., on Friday, Feb. 5; the recording of Live at Red Room Vol. III featuring Discos, John Polle, Prison Wives and Ultramaroon Jr. at the Red Room at Grill on Friday, Feb. 4; John Batdorf (of Batdorf and Rodney fame) at Abounding Grace Church on Saturday, Feb. 5; Elijah and the Band of Light at Solar Culture Gallery on Saturday, Feb. 5; Sapient, MC Homeless and Jivin Scientists at Dry River Collective on Friday, Feb. 4; The All White Party featuring Mav of Sol Camp and lots of others at DV8 on Saturday, Feb. 5; Kaminanda at Solar Culture Gallery on Sunday, Feb. 6; Spirit Familia at Sky Bar on Friday, Feb. 4; Cosmic Slop and 8 Minutes to Burn at The Hut on Friday, Feb. 4.