3 TO GET READY: This week's column is brought to you by
the number 3, because this week we are treated to performances
by two transient trios that have the critics, indie and otherwise,
turning cartwheels in praise: Australia's Dirty Three,
currently on tour with Calexico; and the Kent 3,
hailing from Bellingham, Washington, soon to share a stage with
the Weird Lovemakers. So just remember, 3 is the magic
number, guiding you to new heights of hipness this week.
My money is on the table. Calexico's going to be famous. And it couldn't happen to nicer guys. With The Black Light (freshly released on Touch and Go/Quarterstick Records) vigorously climbing up the college charts, and their recent six-week national tour with the Dirty Three, Calexico's Joey Burns and John Convertino are finding the sun of their own success apart from the penumbra they've shared with their lengthy tenure with Giant Sand and the awe-inspiring Lisa Germano collaboration OP8, as well as other projects supporting Victoria Williams, Barbara Manning and Richard Buckner.
Calexico's poised on the edge, and returns to Tucson with a seasoned stage show, joined by labelmates and buzz band with a big B, The Dirty Three, and local brass explosion Crawdaddy-O, on Friday, June 19, at the Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St.
The Dirty Three and Calexico make an intriguing double bill. The two bands have a lot in common and should complement each other smoothly. Both bands produce highly emotive, personal music that's artfully subtle, poignantly elegant and panoramic in scope.
The Dirty Three plays entirely instrumental--Warren Ellis' violin is the voice in front of former punk guitarist Mick Turner and drummer/percussionist Jim White, whose approach recalls Convertino's own jazz stylings. By contrast, Calexico seems to be moving away from a primarily instrumental format of late, making use of Burns' increasingly polished vocals.
The Dirty Three and Calexico seem to belong to the same non-genre of not-quite rock and roll bands inadequately labeled Lo-Fi, a broad basin serving as a catch-all for the various likes of Palace, Tortoise, Pond and even bands as far-flung as Scenic, the Radar Bro.'s and the Folk Implosion, not to mention a whole host of others tagged as they crept in from the darkened basement studio corners of alt.country and no wave on indie rosters nationwide.
Last March, The Dirty Three released Ocean Songs, recorded with the help of Steve Albini in his new Chicago studios, on the heels of unanimous critical acclaim for 1996's Horse Stories.
Any band that Nick Cave would drive 1,500 kilometers to see has to be exceptional.
The Dirty Three offers, for the most part, more dramatic and anguished treatments of heavier, depressive themes. Calexico's embrace of Mexicali mariachi on The Black Light naturally inclines a more optimistic, uplifting feel than Spoke's warm, stubbly, front-porch aesthetic. The Black Light's WaveLab polish allows every inspiration to be cleanly and smoothly rendered, while preserving the band's home-spun appeal. Calexico's light, artful touch is intentional and fully realized on Black Light, the maturation of its charming implication on Spoke.
The Dirty Three, Calexico and Crawdaddy-O play June 19 at the Club Congress. Tickets are only $6. Call 622-8848 for information.
HOT PICK: Kent 3 is another band that can't really be pegged, but you'd never find them in the Lo-Fi bin. Catch 'em with eMpTy Records fellows The Weird Lovemakers for plenty of volume at Skrappy's, 3710 N. Oracle Road, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 23. The Kent 3 play fast and loose with music genres, using what suits their needs without pledging solidarity to any (Black) flag--the band is far more than a garage-kept, one-trick pop pony.
Kent 3's single consistency is their eclectic approach to songwriting, and a cultivated sense of the unexpected. They recently released Peasant Musik, their third full-length album, and their second for Super Electro (Mudhoney's Steve Turner) with their current line-up (guitarist Viv--a.k.a. Konny--Halogen, drummer Tyler Long and bassist Adam Grendon). Need more convincing? This performance is also one of only a handful left before The Weird Lovemakers hit the road for the summer. Call for 408-9466 for information.
LAST NOTES: The Knots take over the free outdoor stage at Winsett Park, Fourth Avenue and Seventh Street, as part of the ongoing Monsoon Madness concert series, now in its third season of free, Thursday evening music. Opening at 7 p.m. are Tongue Dried Sun and MAT, featuring Mike Toubassi.
The premiere date of this summer's best mega-tour, the Vans Warped Tour, is Tuesday, June 30, at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. I can't imagine how they're going to set it up, but the show gets started at 1 p.m. and features 23 bands on three stages. Highlights include Bad Religion, Rancid, The Cherry Poppin' Daddies (who recently performed locally at the Rialto Theatre), CIV, NOFX, The Smooths, The Specials, Bouncing Souls, Def Con Dos, Frenzal Rhomb, MXPX, Mad Caddies, Less than Jake, Ozomatli, The Pietasters, Reverend Horton Heat, Tilt, Save Ferris, Incubus and the Furious Four. Tickets are $21.25 in advance, $25 day of show, available at all Dillard's outlets.
And speaking of tours, Tucson's Hipster Daddy-O and the Hand Grenades have struck out on a national tour. Their debut Armed & Swingin' has been doing well, and regional tours have generated enough support for a wash of dates across the Midwest, and a swing through the south following a brief stop home and a show at the Rialto Theatre on Saturday, June 27. Call 740-0126 for information.
And another one for the calendar: The Creatures, featuring Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie, appear with John Cale at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 18, at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. The show is all-ages. Don't miss out just because you live in Tucson. Tickets are available by calling (602) 267-1600, or (602) 503-5555.
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