I'm all for anything that'll chase the yuppies out of downtown after happy hour, but the recent rash of club violence isn't what I had in mind. Like Ice Cube said, check yourself before you wreck yourself.
A big pour on the floor for recently fallen Cramps frontman Lux Interior. Damn.
The bad news is that Langerado is called off this year due to sagging ticket sales. But the more-than-compensatory good news is that now everyone can focus on the Harvest of Hope Fest (www.harvestofhopefest.com), happening March 6-8 in St. Augustine. The event boasts a prime-time national lineup impressive enough to put the festival on the regional — if not national — map in its debut year with bands like Holy Fuck, Bad Brains, the National, Devotchka, Broken Social Scene and King Khan & the Shrines, among tons of others.
And you'll get credit for donating to a seriously righteous cause even though you were just looking for hot concert action for your selfish ass. Bonus!
To all the Yarcksters bent over last week's column, allow me to introduce you to a local talent that actually deserves the attention they've been getting: Thomas Wynn & the Believers. Their heady brew of rock, country, gospel and Southern soul is one of the most thoroughly indigenous sounds coming out of Florida, and their sold-out CD release party was the type of union between homegrown talent and local support that's truly something to take pride in (Feb. 7, the Social). This is the stuff that may just save us from ourselves. The sheer outpouring at the event — the band's outpouring of talent and the community's outpouring of support — is what I'm talking about. And hell if that song "Hold On" don't scratch the spot just right.
NYC's O'Death still completely rules (Feb. 5, Back Booth). There are so many reasons to be sweet on this rising gallows-folk juggernaut, the primary being their ability to set fire to your soul. Their performance is what happens when a gang of punks and metalheads storm the deep folk traditions: tension release and transcendence all in one show. Believe it; O'Death is one of the great American bands going right now.
Holy shit, it's Alex from A Clockwork Orange as a folkie! Or rather, it's alt-folk hero Paleface (Feb. 5, Will's Pub). Though often overshadowed by his contemporaries, the Daniel Johnston—schooled NYC musician is a pillar of the anti-folk movement. Accompanied by drummer-vocalist Monica Samalot, the rolling bounce of his exuberance gushed like Tom Waits on uppers in a performance of passion and charm. Hopefully, his recent move to promising boutique folk label Ramseur Records (home to the Avett Brothers) will get him greater notice by the appropriate audience.
Andrew Bird brought 'em out in droves (Feb. 6, Plaza Theatre). His enchanted, swooning sense of wonderment was rendered in an incredibly eclectic, baroque style of folk-pop that pulls from gypsy, jazz and classical. Though accompanied by a full band, his own arsenal of devices did most of the heavy lifting. Not only is the guy a string virtuoso, but he also has whistling skills that actually validate his last name with avian trills of astoundingly melodic agility. He stretched the mileage further by employing a live loop-and-layer technique a la Keller Williams, only for adult hipsters rather than collegiate hippies. The performance trended toward the twee on occasion, but it wasn't bad.
The best on the bill was support act Loney Dear. The Swedes know their way around a pop melody, and this indie act took it to new levels in their harmonic complexity, which stretched up to five vocal parts. Voices, in fact, are such an integral part of their melodic architecture that they're often used as instruments even when there aren't any lyrics to deliver. With arms open and eyes as wide as James, their symphonic pop ebbed and flowed live in shimmering swells. Their newfound electronic elements, which robbed their new album (Dear John) of some of its humanness, came off better live. Though just an opener, Loney Dear actually commanded a standing ovation, showing why they're one of the brightest stars in the current Swedish indie-pop invasion. All told, it was an ideal bill for the theater setting.