BROWN WHORNET 10/29, FIRESIDE BOWL It’s dawned on some of us lately that the most enervating and threatening music one can possibly play is not punk or gangsta rap or death metal but rather prog–and by that I mean the kind of obscenely elaborate, indulgent pileup favored by folks who think Sheik Yerbouti was too subtle. In addition to displaying promiscuous technical proficiency and toilet humor, Austin’s Brown Whornet curse the pope, tweak racial humor, and make hamburgers unappealing forever. They claim to have written more than a hundred “songs” over the past couple years, so their set list may not sound exactly like their latest self-released CD (also called Brown Whornet), but mangled free jazz, luv-me-baby R & B, parodically straight hardcore, and something that sounds like Yes on a boom box whose batteries are dying are all in their arsenal. REVEILLE 10/30, RIVIERA Rage Against the Machine just announced tour dates, eliminating any real purpose this Boston band might have served. Perhaps all the youthful fervor on their Elektra debut, Laced, will be channeled into something less derivative when they grow up. Also on this bill are the Jim Rose Circus and Godsmack.
PROMISE RING 10/31, Empty Bottle I’ve got a huge soft spot for Milwaukee’s Promise Ring, and apparently so do the tastemakers at Spin, who in the November issue anoint the quartet the “flag-bearers” of the emocore “movement” and lay at their feet the burden of keeping “verse-chorus-verse and guitar-bass-drums” a form “older fans” can take “seriously”–said fans no doubt including the editors of Spin, who are forced by economics to take the adolescent antics of Blink-182 “seriously.” It seems a little too late for the glossies to be going gaga over a phenomenon even the most dewy-eyed kids are starting to make snide remarks about, and as the piece points out, the Promise Ring don’t sound much like emo forefathers Rites of Spring or Fugazi, having grown steadily more tuneful over the years. In other words, they’re an energetic, passionate pop band–and their latest album, Very Emergency (Jade Tree), deserves the raves. But I wouldn’t wish the attendant hype on my worst enemy. SHOOTYZ GROOVE 10/31, HOUSE OF BLUES Years ago this New York band, formed in 1992, hit on a winning blend of industrial rock and hip-hop that’s dense, catchy, and downright Pavlovian in its moshworthiness. And for the most part, they’re sticking to it: their latest release, High Definition (Warner Brothers), has a glossier surface than previous loads, but they’re still not ashamed to rhyme, say, “Osiris” and “virus.” The record also features, believe it or not, a cover of XTC’s “Dear God.” ERIC LEONARDSON & HIROSHI CHU OKUBO 11/2, EMPTY BOTTLE Okubo, a composer, percussionist, and producer who has studied jazz, classical, and taiko drumming, is also the “world’s first Miburi player.” The Miburi, since you asked, is a bodysuit with electronic sensors that translate the wearer’s movements for a large bank of synthesizers, blurring the line between music and dance and taking the graceful concept of the theremin to its logical conclusion. Leonardson, a local electroacoustic percussionist, will perform on an instrument of his own invention, the Springboard, made from an assortment of amplified coil springs, wood, refrigerator grills, an aluminum walker, and other recycled items and said to “elicit timbres that seem organic and synthetic at the same time.” DEAD MOON 11/3, EMPTY BOTTLE I hope that for every person out there who’s ever reached a point where he felt bound by nature or honor to give up that rock ‘n’ roll stuff there’s someone else like Fred or Toody Cole. The Coles, better known as two-thirds of Dead Moon, have been married since 1967 and playing in garage bands for longer than that. Slowing down doesn’t seem to be part of their plan; these Oregon veterans have released a dozen full-lengths and scads of singles since 1988 on a variety of small-to-tiny labels (their latest, Destination X, is on Empty) and inspired a rabid cult following in Europe. Their sound shows little sign of degeneration from age–even the handful of moody grunge ballads don’t reflect too badly on the rockers. This is “classic” rock the way it should be heard on the radio but almost never is (though Fred’s voice bears a striking resemblance to Bon Scott’s, especially on their cover of “It’s a Long Way to the Top”). Bantam Rooster and the Nerves open; expect Dead Moon to play till the lights go out. –Monica Kendrick
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joshua Kessler.