THE SUB SPEAKSIn case you don't already know, your faithful music editor, Stephen Seigel (the regular author of this column), temporarily has abandoned Weekly readers and everyone else in Tucson for the chubasco-free zone of the Pacific Northwest. Some call it a vacation.
You're now left in the jaded hands of a longtime rock-critic hack aching to launch his attempt at world domination through this vehicle called Soundbites. And contrary to the popular belief that late summer is a fallow time for gigs, some promising ones loom on the horizon.
THE SOUND OF NOW, BABYEvery so often, some independent band comes along to remind us why we listen to rock 'n' roll--that sense of headlong energy, sonic invention, unvanquished creativity and unadulterated wild youth. The Living Blue, from Champaign, Ill., is one of those bands.
Take the maximum R&B sound of such '60s legends as The Who, The Yardbirds and The Jam, spin it through punky ferocity and a sense of anything-goes, art-school abandon, and the result is punk-pop that bears no resemblance to anything remotely "emo." The sound is traditional and cutting-edge at the same time, without being reliant on contemporary tropes or moldy formulae. The Living Blue began as a partnership between songwriter-guitarists Stephen Ucherek and Joe Prokop in 1998. Barely out of high school, they bonded over garage-revival rock by the likes of The Makers, The Oblivians, The Quadrajets and The Cramps, and formed the Bloody Knuckles. The group added a drummer and bass player, renamed itself The Blackouts and in 2002 recorded its first full-length album, Everyday Is a Sunday Evening. Two years later, The Blackouts recorded the CD Living in Blue with the help of power-pop cult hero and producer Adam Schmitt, employing all sorts of new influences from psychedelic rock to California folk-pop. Soon, the band was hearing its tunes played on TV's One Tree Hill and opening for The Strokes and the New York Dolls.
After much shifting, the group settled on a rhythm section and a new name--provided by the title of the second Blackouts album--by the time it released the almost-universally adored 2005 CD, Fire, Blood, Water (Minty Fresh). Again, Schmitt was behind the boards as producer.
On the new disc, such tunes as "Serrated Friend," "State of Affairs" and "Murderous Youth" actually come on like perfect three-minute pop songs by the British rock band you've always dreamed of, only stretched out to four- and five-minute lengths to allow for much fiery gnashing of teeth and clashing of drums and guitars.
The Living Blue will perform on Wednesday, Aug. 16, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St.
Wait, isn't that the same night the nifty and lovely English pop-rock band The Clientele (which the Weekly covered the last time it came through town) is playing at the famous downtown club?
Yep. Because the two groups potentially draw from the same listenership and could have canceled each other out in terms of Tucson's sometimes-small summertime audience, they are teaming up for one excellent gig. The Clientele's regular touring partner, Great Lakes, will play in between the groups. The show will start at 8 p.m., and tickets are a genuine ganga at $6. You don't need a calculator to know that's two bucks per band. If you need more information, give Congress a ring at 622-8848.
NOT SO LONELY BOYSIt's hard to think of Los Lonely Boys as lonely anymore. After the Lone Star State trio's 2004 debut CD went multiplatinum and they won a Grammy Award for the single "Heaven," it was tough for brothers Jojo, Henry and Ringo Garza to get any time alone.
That's not to forget the magnetic allure of their mixture of classic rock, old-school soul, a little Tejano and contemporary blues-based twang pop.
Considering that the band's second album, Sacred, debuted at No. 2 (with more than 66,000 units sold) on the Billboard album chart last month, and the band's on the road again for a concert tour, the brothers Garza have been getting used to not being lonely. They'll have thousands of folks for company when they play Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheater at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road.
Last time the Boys came to AVA, they had Ozomatli and Tucson's Calexico in tow. In the opening slot this weekend will be the amazing Mexican dance-rock band Kinky. Tickets were still on sale at press time, going for $40 apiece in the reserved section and $25 each on the lawn. Call 321-1000 to purchase.
AND THE WINNAH IS ...Speaking of Texas, from out in Austin comes the band Grand Champeen, a raw-boned group of indie rockers in the musical vein of vintage Twin Cities acts such as Soul Asylum, the Magnolias, Husker Du and The Replacements. They leaven that sound with snotty-genial classic rock moves à la Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith and even Lynyrd Skynyrd.
With two excellent albums--Battle Cry for Help (2002) and The One That Brought You (2003)--Grand Champeen will ride into town for a gig next Thursday, Aug. 17, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. The Solace Bros. and Golden Boots, two regular favorites around these parts, will also appear during the 9:30 p.m. show, for which the cover is $5. Want more? Dial 798-1298.
BEYOND THE FAR SIDEFresh off a tour with the amazing Blackalicious, hip-hop artist Fatlip, formerly MC with the wigged-out alterna-rap band The Pharcyde, will visit Tucson to perform behind his decade-in-the-making debut solo joint, The Loneliest Punk, released just last year on the label known as The Lab.
Word has it that Fatlip isn't as flip and goofy as he used to be in the Pharcyde days, that there's a newfound hard edge and menace to his flow these days, as he relates some of the personal obstacles he had to overcome since the demise of his groovy, sorta-psychedelic outfit. Frankly, this guy could rap his way through the Yellow Pages, and it would sound interesting. Hear for yourself on Tuesday, Aug. 15, at Plush. With opening acts Mankind and Omni, the show starts at 9:30 p.m. If you don't want to stand on your buddy's shoulders and listen at the Fourth Avenue-side transom, it'll cost you $8 to get in. That number again is 798-1298.
WHICH ONE'S PINK?Do we really need a Pink Floyd tribute band? Doesn't the band do that already on a series of constantly reissued CDs and DVDs?
The hunger of Floyd fans, though, must know no bounds, as the Phoenix-area group The Great Gig in the Sky proves. You can experience it at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St.
The production is said to incorporate much of the same trippy lighting and effects that have made Pink Floyd's shows so spectacular over the years. Credit for this must go to show producer Mick Treadwell, who was part of the production team behind the Floyd's live version of The Wall in 1980 and 1981. According to the hype, "This was without question the largest and most technically complex theatrical production that had ever been seen in an arena anywhere in the world."
Anyway, The Great Gig in the Sky show will feature "a huge circular video screen with projected video images and psychedelic effects from the original shows, alongside new images and moving light technologies that were not available in the day." So says our source. Oh, there will be music, too.
All ages will be admitted. Reserved-seat tickets cost $19, and probably more at the door. Call 740-1000 for more information.