All Lawrence all the time this weekend.
Sure, you could pay 800 bucks and go out and see Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs tear up some gilfs and silver
Or you could take a little jaunt on down the road to that little hamlet known as Larry and see up-and-coming bands.
Then you could say, "Dude, I saw St. Vincent at this little theater in this little college town back before she got huge."
Instead of, "Dude, I saw Michael McDonald right before his fifth bypass surgery – he was actually dead for three minutes on the operating table before they brought his mellow groovin’ ass back to life"
Think about it.
Friday, October 7th
St. Vincent at Liberty Hall in Lawrence
St. Vincent is a girl from Oklahoma. She plays several instruments, mostly guitar, and sings as well. She was previously a member of the weirdo giant ensemble The Polyphonic Spree and she also toured as part of Sufjan Stevens’ band.
All three of her albums have received critical praise, perhaps each more than the last. Which is quite something. Though I’ve never seen her live, those who have tell me that her live show is even better than her albums. Her style is somewhat elaborate and quirky, with lush arrangements, unusual twists and turns, and crystalline vocals. Kind of reminds me of Cat Power at times, but with a bit more edge to it.
No doubt this show at Liberty Hall will be packed with indie girls and boys alike, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see some more mainstream folks there too — St. Vincent seems poised to break huge at any moment.
Minus the Bear at the Granada in Lawrence
Who wouldn’t love a band that chose its name based in part on the 70’s TV show BJ and the Bear? No one, that’s who. No one. Though I must admit, the sheer volume of bands around right now that have the word "bear" in their name is a bit curious. How did this happen? There must be some kind of rational explanation.
This Seattle band has been doing its thing for about a decade now, delivering danceable indie pop to a growing legion of fans. Its latest release, 2010’s Omni, was produced by Grammy winner Joe Chiccarelli of The White Stripes and My Morning Jacket fame, so there’s got to be something to that, right?
I have a feeling this might be the show of the weekend.
Their current tour features the band dusting off its 2002 release, Highly Refined Pirates in its entirety. I like to think the album is a political statement on post-modern imperialism, with song titles such as "Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco Twister," "Hey, Wanna Throw Up?", and "I Lost All My Money at the Cock Fights." It’s funny cuz it’s true.
Sunday, October 9th
Portugal. The Man at the Bottleneck in Lawrence
This band, originally from Wasilla, Alaska, is way cooler than most everything else you’ve ever heard of that is from Wasilla. Obviously, they migrated to… (wait for it)…. Portland, where they started to get into the music scene there.
Its latest album, In the Mountain, In the Cloud, has received copious airplay on alternative rock stations like 96.5 the Buzz, and has received generally favorable reviews across the board. Sunday’s show has to be one of the smallest venues these guys play anymore, so it might be worth a shot, even for a Sunday night.
Paste‘s Wyndham Wyeth gave the album a commendable 8.3 out of 10 and had this to say:
"[I]t almost feels as though it picks up right where the last album left off. However, that’s not to say that In
the Mountain, In the Cloud is predictable or boring—quite the opposite in fact. It’s an amalgamation of everything
the band has done before, from the electronic drum beats that were prevalent in the group’s debut to a wider array
of sounds including the use of strings and horns. But In the Mountain, In the Cloud takes it all one step further."