TUCSON TO AUSTIN
As you read this, I'm in Austin for my annual excursion to South by Southwest, knee-deep in BBQ rib bones and empty cups of free beer, all while dashing around town and trying to catch some band I love or have read good things about.
SXSW is the most glorious clusterfuck for music nerds, a four-day stretch of bands crammed into every available space in the city, nearly 24-7. It's an exercise in endurance, and it's the only vacation I've ever taken after which I feel like I need another vacation to recover.
Thankfully, this column will be in good hands next week: The illustrious Gene Armstrong will be keeping you up to speed on how to plan your music week (and likely making me look like a hack in the process).
For those of you staying in town, you get to reap the benefits once again of bands performing here on the way to Austin and back. Yep, it's another jam-packed week (pun intended) in the Old Pueblo.
It's easy to forget that Of Montreal (or, as they prefer it, of Montreal) was once the red-headed stepchild of the Elephant 6 collective, an afterthought to bands like Apples (in Stereo) and Neutral Milk Hotel. Their early albums were composed of buoyant indie pop with flashes of whimsy and flamboyancy.
Somewhere along the line, though—actually, it can be pinpointed to 2007's Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?—Kevin Barnes and his crew got ambitious and started getting all theatrical and shit, both in their music and live performances. The band's latest album, Paralytic Stalks (Polyvinyl), doesn't quite match that pinnacle, but it's at least as weird. The funk elements the band has been exploring in recent years are still there, but the Bowie worship that started with 2010's False Priest is taken to a whole new level here. The album is a disjointed psych-pop catchall with moments of transcendence—but listen closely, and you'll realize how disquieting the lyrics are, in contrast to the off-kilter but ebullient musical backing.
If you go to the show, expect a version of musical theater, something the band has become known for over the last several years—costumes, puppets, etc.—and who knows what they've got up their sleeves this time around? And the fact that they charge so little for their shows, with seven members and such an elaborate stage show, is positively commendable.
Of Montreal performs at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Monday, March 19. Deerhoof and Kishi Bashi open the all-ages show at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are only $9; they'll be $11 on the day of the show. Questions? Head to rialtotheatre.com, or call 740-1000.
Thirty years beyond their demise, Led Zeppelin still inspires awe and worship, and for good reason. Although they were lumped in with the heavy-metal scene of their day, they really weren't metal, but more of a hybrid of blues and folk styles gussied up in heaviness. There have been plenty of imitators since, but no other band has come close to matching what they accomplished.
And speaking of imitators, well, some are more blatant than others. Two of the most blatant will play shows at Club Congress this week as part of a two-day Zep-fest that somehow ties in to St. Patrick's Day. (Yeah, I don't really get it, either.)
Day one of Congress' St. Patrick's Day Zep Fest, on Friday, March 16, will feature Dread Zeppelin, once a regular act at the club that has somehow managed to stay out of Tucson in recent years. (To be honest, I had no idea they were still performing and releasing albums until this show was booked.)
On paper, the band is pure novelty: a Led Zeppelin tribute band that transforms the songs into reggae numbers—while fronted by an Elvis impersonator, no less. But in practice, it works far better than you could imagine, and the shows of yore were always a riot. They've apparently gone through some lineup changes since they last performed here, but most importantly, they're still fronted by the glorious Tortelvis.
Dread Zeppelin takes the stage at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, March 16. Flagrante Delicto opens at 9 p.m. $10 gets you in the door.
The next night, Tucson's own Zeppelin tribute band, Whole Lotta Zep, will play it far straighter in a two-hour show of Zep classics. The band prides itself on accuracy in interpreting the classics, and has developed a devoted fan base of folks who may or may not have ever seen the real deal live. This is probably the closest most of us will ever get to witnessing Led Zeppelin in their prime. Plus, this is the band's first performance since November, so catch 'em while you can.
Whole Lotta Zep performs at Club Congress on Saturday, March 17. Doors open at 7 p.m., and they'll likely start around 8. Cover is $7. For more information, head to hotelcongress.com/club, or call 622-8848.
HEAVY HORNS AND STRINGS
While we're on the subject of metal tribute/novelty acts, here's one whose concept rivals that of Dread Zeppelin. Hailing from Los Angeles, Metalachi performs heavy-metal classics without electric guitars. More specifically, they transform heavy-metal classics into full-on mariachi music. Depending on your tolerance for such things, you'll likely either love them or hate them. As with Dread Zeppelin, it's a concept that looks pretty awful on paper; the rational side of me wants to hate them, but my fun-loving side can't help but dig them. (And, yes, they perform at least one Led Zeppelin song.)
Decide for yourself when Metalachi performs at The Rock, 136 N. Park Ave., on Sunday, March 18. The all-ages show starts at 7 p.m. with a slew of bands opening: Sink the Titanic, Eight Legged Horse, Hillbilly Bo and Heart Attack Shack. Tickets are $10; call 629-9211 for further details.
Local hard-rock act Sinphonics will perform a show this week to celebrate the release of Ghost Note Anthems, their first new album in five years. Celebrate with them at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Friday, March 16. Opening at 9:30 p.m. are The Provocative Whites, whose shows have become a rare commodity in recent months, and Caught on Film, the latest act to be fronted by Chris O'Gorman (The Static Session, The Year of Acceleration). Cover is $5, and you can head to plushtucson.com, or call 798-1298 for more info.
If you didn't make it out to the second night of the Burger Records Showcase at La Cocina last week, you're in luck: The Resonars, the '60s-inspired guitar-pop band fronted by Matt Rendon, which performed for the first time in 16 years at the Burger fest, will play another local show this week shortly after getting back from SXSW. They'll headline a show at The District Tavern, 260 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, March 21, that will also feature performances by Philadelphia's The Tough Shits, and Blue Jungle, from California. The show starts at 8:30 p.m., and best of all, admission is free. Call 791-0082 with questions.
Homages to '60s girl groups are plentiful these days, but one of the trippiest versions comes from the male-female dream-pop duo Cults, who will make a return appearance at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Sunday, March 18. Opening the all-ages show are Spectrals and Mrs. Magician. Doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets are $11 in advance, and $13 on the day of the show. Head to hotelcongress.com/club, or call 622-8848.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls at Plush on Tuesday, March 20; The Devil Wears Prada at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, March 17; The Aggrolites and Mike Pinto at Club Congress next Thursday, March 22; Yellow Ostrich at Solar Culture Gallery on Monday, March 19; The Coathangers at Club Congress on Wednesday, March 21; Tyga at the Rialto Theatre next Thursday, March 22; Intronaut and Black Tusk at The Rock on Saturday, March 17; Electric Guest at Club Congress on Tuesday, March 20; Gabriel Ayala Trio at Zuzi! Theater on Friday, March 16; For Today and A Skylit Drive at The Rock on Tuesday, March 20; the Manhattan Transfer at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Sunday, March 18; the Kingston Trio at the Temple of Music and Art on Wednesday, March 21; John Doyle at the Berger Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 16; The Mollys and Friends St. Patrick's Day Dance Party at Boondocks Lounge on Saturday, March 17.