A QUARTER-CENTURY OF ADDICTION
In 1988, I was a freshman at the UA and served as a volunteer for both Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA) Concerts and the Student Union Activities Board (SUAB), the organizations charged with bringing concerts to campus. ASUA covered the big-budget shows at venues like McKale Center, while SUAB brought in smaller shows and was responsible for the notable Eat to the Beat music series, during which a different band would play at lunchtime in The Cellar, in the basement of the Student Union.
Being a volunteer had its perks. When my roommate and I, a fellow volunteer, showed up to work the homecoming dance completely stoned out of our heads, our superior, um, noticed. "Are you guys stoned?" she asked.
Since we'd both likely only been asked that question by our parents in the past, we both said "no" just a little too enthusiastically. We weren't fooling anyone. The band they'd hired for the dance was the Dream Syndicate (I'm guessing it was the only dance the band played in its existence), and knowing that there would be no real trouble, they put us on security detail, which basically meant my friend and I sat on either side of the stage while the Dream Syndicate blew our minds. Ah, college.
Perhaps the most-notable band the SUAB brought to The Cellar that year was one that most of us hadn't heard of before. The posters they distributed for it read: "Next Big Thing Out of Los Angeles, Just Signed to Warner Bros. Records." The band was Jane's Addiction. (The only thing the band had released at that point was their self-titled live album, on Triple X, in 1987.)
Thanks in part to those ubiquitous posters, the show sold out, as I remember. My duties for the night were to go up to the band's dressing room, tell them it was time to go on, walk them down to the stage—and not much else.
For the first several songs, I was mesmerized. These guys were total freaks, the real deal, playing Zeppelin-influenced metal riffs behind a dreadlocked singer with an unusual, high-pitched voice that shouldn't have worked, but did. Perry Farrell was a whirling dervish, tossing his sizable dreadlocks in every direction, and he remained in motion throughout the entire show. It was really something, and I began to believe the posters.
But about five or six songs in, the magic seemed to dissipate. The songs all started sounding alike, and they each used the same gimmicks: pseudo-metal riffs and high-pitched echo-laden vocals. Keep in mind I hadn't heard a lick of the band's music before.
Fast-forward a few years. Jane's Addiction had become huge, and they were booked to return to Tucson, to perform at that weird all-concrete room at the Tucson Convention Center that never seems to get used for concerts anymore (and for good reason—the sound is awful). By now, I was a fan, and owned all three of the band's albums, including their then-latest, Ritual de lo Habitual (Warner Bros., 1990). Dinosaur Jr. turned in a great opening set, and now familiar with the band's catalog, I was prepared to be blown away by Jane's Addiction. But I wasn't. For whatever reason (and with Jane's Addiction, one could come up with a potential laundry list), the show fell flat. They simply didn't have the same hunger or energy they displayed at the show at The Cellar. It wasn't awful, but they seemed to simply be going through the motions.
Late last year, the band quietly released its fifth album, The Great Escape Artist (Capitol, 2011), its first in eight years. (There have been breakups, reformations, hiatuses, etc.) Along with the band's three original members still with the group—singer Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins—TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek handles bass duties, and Guns N' Roses' Duff McKagan co-wrote several songs. (Chris Chaney is the band's new permanent bassist.) And you know what? It's pretty decent. Gone is the element of danger, but as a collection of songs, it sounds like what you'd expect from a new Jane's Addiction album, in the best way.
Almost a quarter-century after their first Tucson appearance, Jane's Addiction returns to town for a performance at the TCC Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave., next Thursday, May 31. The show begins at 8:30 p.m., and tickets, available via Ticketmaster and the venue box office, run $38 and $73, plus sizable service charges. For more information, call 791-4101.
FROM STUDIO 2A TO PLUSH
Originally available only to members during the recent pledge drive, 91.3 FM KXCI Presents Locals Only Volume 6: Live From Studio 2A, the latest compilation in the series documenting performances recorded during the live segment of the long-running Monday-night local-music show, becomes available to the general public this week with a CD-release show.
This installment covers the years in which Dan Twelker (aka Dr. Dan) hosted the program, from 2008 to early 2011. As usual, it represents a grab bag of genres, the unifying element being that all of the tracks were cherry-picked from a couple of years' worth of performances—which means that, no matter your taste, you'll find plenty to love here.
Personal favorites include Brian Lopez's gorgeously haunting "Leda Atomica," which features Salvador Duran; Young Mothers' longing "I Just Wanna Know," which could pass as an M. Ward cover; a nifty, slightly slower-paced version of Dead Western Plains' "Alta"; the '60s garage-rock-leaning "Get With the Times" by The Modeens; Logan Greene and the Bricks' jaunty "Why Am I Lonely?"—and those are all just on the first half of the album. Other highlights include tracks by Key Ingredients of African Soul, Jazz Telephone, Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl, Seashell Radio and HAIRSPRAYFIREANDGIRLS. I'm not blowing smoke when I say that there isn't a single dud.
The release party for Locals Only Volume 6 begins at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, May 26, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., and will include performances by The Modeens, The Tryst, Key Ingredients of African Soul and Ashbury, along with some potential special guests. Admission is $5, but bring an extra $10 along to pick up the CD. For more info, call 798-1298, or head to plushtucson.com.
Also being released this week is >IV (Greater Than Four), the fourth release by Tucson's Triple Double Band. (They're calling it an album, but it's only got six songs and clocks in at 21 minutes, which constitutes an EP in my book.) I'm skeptical of any band that lists the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime and Jack Johnson as influences, but with an exception here and there, Triple Double doesn't really sound much like any of them. The band has a light, feel-good style, a sort of update on the Yacht Rock sound with three-part harmonies, piano and sax added to the usual bass/drums/guitar lineup. The lyrics may be a little hippie-dippy, but it's clear these guys know who their audience is—jam-band fans who love to dance. The EP is, in a word, pleasant, and that's not meant to be a backhanded compliment.
Triple Double Band celebrates the release of >IV with a show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Friday, May 25. Doors open at 7 p.m., and opening will be Vine St., Faster Than Light and DJ Cody Clutch. Admission is $5, but if you buy a ticket in advance, you get a free copy of the CD. For further details, head to hotelcongress.com/club, or call 622-8848.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Fourth Annual Kevin Pakulis Ranch Party featuring The Outlaw Rebels and Buffelgrass at the Triangle L Ranch in Oracle on Sunday, May 27; Yacht and Onuinu at Plush on Friday, May 25; Marshall Tucker Band at the Fox Tucson Theatre on Tuesday, May 29; Pop. 1280, Ultramaroon and the Be Helds at The District Tavern next Thursday, May 31; Euforquestra at Solar Culture Gallery on Tuesday, May 29; Andre Nickatina and Mumbls at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, May 25; Chickenfoot and Black Stone Cherry at AVA at Casino del Sol next Thursday, May 31; Sorne at Solar Culture Gallery on Monday, May 28; Armory Park Swing Dance featuring the Kings of Pleasure at the Armory Park Community Center on Saturday, May 26; Igor and Red Elvises at The Hut on Monday, May 28; Sink the Titanic CD-release show at The Rock on Friday, May 25; Across Tundras, Psygoat and Methra at RR Nites at La Cocina tonight, Thursday, May 24.
There's lots more great stuff happening, so be sure to check out our listings section.