Two punk legends whose careers can be counted in decades are hitting our fair burg this week.
At a time when there were very few women in punk rock, Exene Cervenka was one of the most original. As co-frontperson of X, still regarded as one of the best, and most groundbreaking, L.A. punk bands, Cervenka's unorthodox vocal harmonies with John Doe set the group apart from not only their contemporaries, but even current acts: X influenced countless bands, but none of them really sound a whole lot like X.
The band's first four albums represent some of the earliest, and best, California punk committed to tape in those years—and their subsequent albums were often nearly as good. Even on the band's first two albums, but starting especially with 1982's Under the Big Black Sun, X incorporated elements of rockabilly, country and even folk into its sound, helping to set the course for bands that would be classified as cowpunk or alt-country, depending on from which decade they emerged. And unlike most of the bands around at that time, the group's original lineup still tours together, putting on great shows.
But it's not X that will be playing at Club Congress this weekend; Cervenka and Doe have thriving careers outside of the band—Cervenka is a visual and spoken-word artist and writer, and has performed with several other bands—and we'll be treated to a rare Cervenka solo show on Saturday. She's touring to support Somewhere Gone (Bloodshot, 2009), her first solo album in 20 years, which marks a return to her acoustic-based albums for Rhino, Old Wives Tales (1989) and Running Sacred (1990). Those albums—and, based on what we've heard from the new one—convey all the passion of an X song without the loud guitars; and that's what folks should expect to see this weekend.
Exene Cervenka performs at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Sunday, Jan. 24. Brian Lopez and Gabriel Sullivan—two of Tucson's brightest young acts—open the show at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $10 in advance, $12 on the day of show. For more information, call 622-8848.
A few years after X began, and several after the Ramones and their ilk, the second wave of New York punk bands started hitting the clubs. Spurred by the economic ills that were early Reaganomics, and the neo-Puritanism of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, this new crop of acts played harder, faster and angrier than the punk bands that had come before them, thereby starting a new brand of punk called hardcore. At the forefront of this movement was Agnostic Front.
Outside of New York, few had heard punk rock played so viscerally until the 1984 release of the band's debut album, Victim in Pain (Relativity), widely regarded as one of the most indispensable documents of early New York hardcore. Following a similarly regarded EP, United Blood (1984), its full-length follow-up, 1986's Cause for Alarm (Combat), was widely panned by the punk kids upon its release, as it blurred the lines between punk and metal—something that simply wasn't done in those days—but has since become, along with early releases by bands like D.R.I. and Corrosion of Conformity, a blueprint for modern hardcore acts that merge the two genres with regularity.
While the band has never broken up, members have come and gone. But last year the group re-released Victim in Pain and United Blood on the Bridge Nine label, and to celebrate the occasion, Agnostic Front's classic lineup—Roger Miret, Vinny Stigma, Rob Kabula and Dave Jones—reunited to play shows together for the first time since 1984. Since then, the band has added a new drummer, Pokey Mo.
Agnostic Front performs at Vaudeville, 110 E. Congress St., next Thursday, Jan. 28. The show starts at 8 p.m. with openers Death by Stereo, Grito and Knuckle Junction. For further details, call 622-3535.
Three local acts are celebrating significant anniversaries with performances this week.
Perennial jazz-blues favorite Lisa Otey will celebrate 25 years as a Tucson resident, as well as the 15th anniversary of her label, Owl's Nest Productions, with her annual Lisa Otey and the Desert Divas showcase this week. As Otey notes in a press release, the group originated in 2001 as a cabaret act in the Invisible Theatre's Sizzling Summer Sounds series. The group's stature and fanbase have, of course, grown significantly since then, as has the size of venues in which the Divas perform. The current crop of Divas, which will perform at a pair of shows this week, includes Hurricane Carla Brownlee, Liz McMahon, Regina Wills, Diane Van Deurzen, and Heather Hardy, as well as "guest Diva" Keli Carpenter, of The Tryst.
Lisa Otey and the Desert Divas perform at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, at the Desert View Performing Arts Center, 38759 S. Mountain View Blvd., in SaddleBrooke. Advance tickets cost $20 at tickets.saddlebrooketwo.com; they'll be $25 at the door. Call 818-1000 for more info about that show.
Then, on Saturday, Jan. 23, the Divas will perform at a 2 p.m. matinee show at the Pima Community College Center for the Arts' Proscenium Theatre, located on the college's West Campus, 2202 W. Anklam Road. Tickets cost $20 for general admission, $25 for premium reserved seats, and may be purchased at lisaotey.com, or by calling 370-5912.
Although it's been a while since we've heard from it, Gat-Rot, Tucson's longest-running and, quite possibly, most respected hardcore band, re-emerges this week for a performance. This year marks the group's 15th anniversary, and a press release promises a significant showing from the band in 2010.
They'll get started by performing at Vaudeville, 110 E. Congress St., on Saturday, Jan. 23. The show will be headlined by The Gallery, and Killing Spree and Noise Attack will open the show at 9 p.m. Cover is $5. For further details, call 622-3535.
Meanwhile, Whole Lotta Zep, Tucson's only Led Zeppelin cover band, will celebrate its third anniversary with an early, all-ages show at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Saturday, Jan. 23. This one starts at 7 p.m., with opener Charlie Faye, an Austin resident who is spending a month performing around Tucson. Admission is $5, and you can call 622-8848 for more information.
Jakob Martin, Overcast Off and Anthony Schaan will perform next week at a benefit concert for Camp Wildcat, which, according to a press release, is "a student-run, non-profit organization at the University of Arizona devoted to improving the lives of Tucson's financially, mentally and physically disadvantaged youth." The early, all-ages show begins at 6:30 p.m. next Thursday, Jan. 28, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Admission is a suggested donation of $7. 622-8848.
Geoff Reacher, a resident of Athens, Ga., who performs Southern folk and country songs on a finger-picked acoustic guitar, but filters them through a sampling keyboard and drum machine, will perform a free show in the lounge at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25. His 2006 debut album, Avec Reacher C'est Plus Sûr, was released by Orange Twin, the label that has issued albums by bands that once resided on the Elephant 6 imprint. 798-1298.
ON THE BANDWAGON
John Hammond at the Rialto Theatre on Sunday, Jan. 24; Pretty Boy Floyd and Dirtnap at The Rock on Friday, Jan. 22; Bowling for Soup at Club Congress on Wednesday, Jan. 27; Dave Manning at Bluefin Seafood Bistro on Saturday, Jan. 23; Never Say Die at The Rock on Saturday, Jan. 23; Blackbird Raum at The HangArt on Sunday, Jan. 24; That 1 Guy and Bajo Turbato at Plush next Thursday, Jan. 28; the Hitting the Black Ice Tour with Brotherhood and King Conquer at The Rock on Tuesday, Jan. 26; The Runaway Five, The Ghost of 505 and The Ghost Dove at Plush on Friday, Jan. 22.