Friday, December 14
Thrill Jockey 20th-anniversary party with Wooden Shjips, Liturgy, Trans Am, Kid Millions
Back in the '90s, arty Chicago alt/indie warhorse label Thrill Jockey basically drew the map for marginalized music's move into the mainstream, with a roster including Tortoise, Fiery Furnaces, Tunng and The Sea and Cake. Psych stylists Wooden Shjips explore the mythology and metaphor of the American frontier on their '60s-'70s fuzz-rocked West, produced by Phil Manley. Manley is also the founding member of trio Trans Am, which will lay out the goods from its post-funk, electro-fractured Thing. Brooklyn black-metal modifiers Liturgy bring an assaultive trance, whose formal cues derive from Steve Reich, Glenn Branca and Lightning Bolt; their feral grindcore comes refreshingly free of lyrical references to the horns of the goat or the bony finger of doom. John Colpitts was reborn as Kid Millions: composer, writer, drummer for Oneida and now also known as Man Forever, he explores drum performance as pure sound experience. --John Payne
Saturday, December 15
Ty Segall, Bleached, Night Beats
Laguna Beach's Ty Segall is a power chord-playing bro straight out of the garage with a tough new/old take on classic rock. A facile and fun tunesmith knocking around one very large warehouse of rock-idol moves and motifs, he delivers his Troggs/T. Rex/Beatles/bubblegum in a charismatic, carefree style that belies the obvious passion and brains behind it all. Seek out his new Twins for more magical musical mélanges. Also tonight, Gun Club meets Blondie in L.A.-born-and-bred post-post-punks Bleached, while Seattle's Night Beats drop hallucinatory sonic bombs on all things psych-grease rock and roll. --John Payne
Astronautalis, Busdriver, Jel
"Our work is never done; we are Sisyphus," Astronautalis declares on the title track of his fourth album, This Is Our Science. Like that king of Ephyra, the Minneapolis rapper also known as Andy Bothwell keeps pushing a boulder up a mountain stacked with his own words, only to watch it all tumble down again. Elsewhere, on the bittersweet love song "Contrails," he wonders, "What kind of fool is so stupid to climb a mountain to do it/Then climb back down to the town without a picture to prove it?" Astronautalis prefers using words to take pictures, finding himself in awe of a woman who's both an escape artist ("leaving's your living, built in your bones") and crippled inside ("I know her cane is just a comedy"), and who leaves an endless trail of wreckage behind her ("Your contrail's coated in broken homes"). The imagery comes even faster and denser by way of local hip-hop prophet Busdriver, who overloads his songs with blurry, rapid-fire and insanely inventive wordplay, while Anticon founder Jel constructs his tracks on a mighty foundation of big and loud live drumming. --Falling James
Ethiopian-Canadian R&B crooner The Weeknd (né Abel Tesfaye) set the Internet ablaze in 2011 when his mixtape House of Balloons was tweeted into mass consciousness by fellow Canadian rap star Drake and quickly became a critical favorite. Since then, his eclectic sonic brew, characterized by unbridled tales of sex, drugs and infidelity, has scored endorsements from such top music authorities as Rolling Stone. It's even garnered comparisons to late pop music icon Michael Jackson. Tonight's show at the Orpheum celebrates the singer's latest release, Trilogy, the only R&B record currently in the iTunes Top 10. --Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Sunday, December 16
That '70s Soul
Musician-composer Miguel Atwood-Ferguson has a voracious appreciation of just about every known type of music, and since he's helming tonight's ultra-fab package show, "That '70s Soul," it's certain to be intensely felt, gorgeously rendered stuff. A star-studded homage to the critical likes of Curtis Mayfield, James Brown and Sly Stone, he's got a set list from paradise. And with such collaborators as traps titan Ndugu Chancler, dazzling multi-instrumentalist Derf Reklaw, tenor sax paragon Kamasi Washington and special contributions from Brazilian sensation Seu Jorge, Afro-Pop empress Zap Mama and U.K. soul sister Alice Russell, this soul-stirring shebang will doubtless spread plenty of musical joy. --Jonny Whiteside
For details about these shows and more live music happening in the city this week, check out our Concert Calendar.
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