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HOCO Highlights 

Our music writers round up some of the best shows at Hotel Congress’ Labor Day music fest

click to enlarge Thundercat at Hotel Congress

Julius Schlosburg

Thundercat at Hotel Congress

Robyn Hitchcock. The reigning prince of psychedelia, Robyn Hitchcock carries a musical torch for the 1960s that existed between the poles of Syd Barrett and Bob Dylan. The singularly strange Brit now resides in Nashville, soaking in Americana, but his latest release, 2017's self-titled record, is a vibrant burst of paisley rock 'n' roll. Before his last local show two years ago, Hitchcock told the Tucson Weekly that the record is "disguised as what pop music was, a vehicle for these ever expanding ripples of 1960s consciousness, which have now probably reached the edge of our galaxy." The music is far out, but check out Hitchcock's set for the brilliant and bizarre banter as well. Performing Saturday, Sept. 1, at Hotel Congress. 21+. —Eric Swedlund

Orkesta Mendoza. Remember last year's HOCO, when Orkesta Mendoza hit the stage after a summer of playing festivals all across Europe? Remember watching the local indie-mambo band as an exceptionally fine-tuned machine, absolutely tight and totally self-assured? Remember thinking that it seemed impossible, but Orkesta Mendoza had gotten better than ever before? Well, they're prepping a new EP and heading out on a September/October tour in support of DeVotchKa. So expect Orkesta Mendoza to reach new heights yet again, and embrace the fact that these locals are finding yet another big batch of new fans across the country. Performing Friday, Aug. 31, at Hotel Congress. 21+. —Eric Swedlund

Jericho Davidson. Native Tucsonan Jericho Davidson has clawed his way into the New York comedy scene over the last four years hosting the long-running DIY Bushwick Bears showcase. Tattooed and bearded, with a physique he self-deprecatingly refers to as "step-dad bod," Davidson's sleeveless, wild-eyed act typically includes shameless and hilarious rants about sex and drugs. Check out his classic appearance in HuffPost, under the headline: "And Now, A Fat Guy On A Toilet Talks To You About Fat Shaming." Performing Friday, Aug. 31, at Hotel Congress. 21+. —Eric Swedlund

Tight Fright. Look no further than the band's own Facebook for the best "this crossed with this" description of Tight Fright: "Captain Beefheart wandering the desert tripping on peyote with Motörhead, leaving a trail of empty baggies and beer bottles, giving zero fucks." Comprising former Tucsonans unleashed on New York City, Tight Fright plays on the heavy and weird end of the musical spectrum. Formerly of bands like Cadillac Steakhouse, Mr. Free & the Satellite Freakout! and Chango Malo, Miles Gabriel Bartlett (guitar, vocals), Erik Ketchup (bass, vocals) and Jericho Davidson (drums) wreak new havoc with Tight Fright's scuzzy, balls-to-the-wall rock. Performing Sunday, Sept. 2, at Hotel Congress. 21+. —Eric Swedlund

Dean Blunt. Hailing from the nocturnal, leering streets of the urban United Kingdom, Dean Blunt's music is a very special kind of pop. The hazy, somber and frankly surreal songs he crafts mix in just about every type of music one could imagine: hip hop, dub, R&B, electronic, sound collage and more. This eclectic and prolific take on music production, combined with Blunt's cold and deadpan vocal delivery, makes for his music to turn into an ever-expanding mysterious soundscape. In adding to the dreamy nostalgia, Blunt also has a predisposition for including aspects of our cultural memory into his music. But maybe this can all be summed up in a single song title of his: "Venice Dreamway." Performing Thursday, Aug. 30, at Hotel Congress. 16+. —Jeff Gardner

Lil B. "Lil B is one of the most revolutionary artists in music, all he has to do is walk and they will follow." —Lil B. What may or may not have started out as commitment to a joke turned into a full-fledged enterprise. Lil B, also known as "The Based God," helped pioneer the over-the-top, braggadocious and atmospheric subgenre of "cloud rap" over the course of 150 different MySpace accounts (he could only upload a handful of songs on each). This resulted in Lil B releasing literally thousands of songs throughout the late 2000s and 2010s, including some albums reaching over five hours in length. But is any of it good? You bet it is. A Lil B song can only be described as a complete spiritual experience: ethereally looping backdrops, hardcore rapping, hilarious one-liners, catchy beats, and musical samples that make you question your own consciousness. Performing Thursday, Aug. 30, at Hotel Congress. 16+. —Jeff Gardner

Giant Sand. For over 35 years, Giant Sand has served a cornerstone of the dusty, ramshackle Tucson folk-rock scene. Although frontman Howe Gelb said he was retiring the band some time back, he is gracing his hometown and he'll be back in action for HoCo Fest, reinventing his songs on the fly as usual. The songs can be dark and claustrophobic, but just as easily a Giant Sand track can be pastoral or even outright humorous. They proudly sing of the Sonoran borderlands in their music. Even if the songs are played with instruments you've heard before, about a city you've lived in for quite some time, a Giant Sand track never fails to be endlessly intriguing. Performing Saturday, Sept. 1, at Hotel Congress. 21+. —Jeff Gardner

Negative Gemini. Indie and techno are such polarized genres that when you hear a proficient fusion your ears tend to stumble over themselves. Introducing your newest auditory stumbling block: Negative Gemini, the solo project of Lindsey French. Her sweet, indie pop vocals somehow find a home in the midst of bumping, psychedelic trance bangers. It's moody and sensual, but at the same time endlessly danceable. It's a juxtaposition well suited for a rave in an abandoned Kmart. And honestly, in this world of people trapped behind their computer screens with the past dissolving into the foggy nights behind them, who wouldn't want that? Performing Saturday, Sept. 1, at Hotel Congress. 21+. —Jeff Gardner

Body of Light. The darkly pulsating electronics, the synthetic handclaps, the apathetic vocals; everything about this Arizona band indicates that they're from another place and another time. Even the album artworks are in cassette orientation. But it all comes together so well. It's aggressive yet groovy, airy yet heavy, robotic yet carnal. It's no surprise they describe themselves as performing arts just as much as a band. With the sequenced drums and buried lyrics, it sounds like they started with "Blue Monday" and cranked up both the sensuality and the bleakness.  It's not hard to fall for this spooky and sexual synthpop band. Performing Friday, Aug. 31, at 191 Toole. 16+. —Jeff Gardner

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