Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
Long before the throwback R&B of the Alabama Shakes galvanized appreciative listeners, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears were throwing down retro soul for delighted fans. Known for manic performances in the showy tradition of James Brown and Sam & Dave, the Austin-based band is a riveting live act capable of sending dancers into a frenzy with deranged material like "She's So Scandalous" and "Booty City." The Les Izmore Therapy Hour, a project Kansas City rapper Izmore describes as "a live mixtape," precedes Lewis' band. Dropout Boogie will also be on hand to spin vintage vinyl. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $15 in advance.
Carrie Rodriguez is an ideal companion for Valentine's Day. While the Texan is an unabashed romantic, her artfully constructed songs document the complexities of relationships. Much like Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell, Rodriguez is a torchbearer for the grand tradition of Texas troubadours. Her earthy new album Give Me All You Got ranges from the sultry folk of "I Don't Mind Waiting," the upbeat swing of "Devil In My Mind" and the simmering rock of "I Cry For Love." While she'll be armed with a fiddle and a guitar rather than an arrow and a torch, Rodriguez should make a fine surrogate for Cupid on Thursday. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $15 in advance. A special Valentine Day package with "a candlelit steak dinner for two with fries and salad and a bottle of wine and reserved seats" is $78.50 per couple.
Twenty One Pilots
An ingenious amalgamation of the dramatic pop of Fun and the manic cheerleader-rock of Matt & Kim, Twenty One Pilots consists of a clever pair of Ohioans. The radio-ready music of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun may not be innovative, but it's incredibly catchy. Regional At Best, the title of the duo's 2011 album, doesn't reflect Twenty One Pilots' enormous ambition. The peppy rock of opening band New Politics is also carefully constructed for mass appeal. Much of the Danish act's material sounds like savvy rewrites of hits by bands ranging from the Strokes to Blur. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $11 in advance.
Zac Brown Band
The most unlikely of country superstars, the Zac Brown Band are good ol' boys who seem as if they'd be pleased as punch by the opportunity to play covers of Jimmy Buffett and the Allman Brothers Band at their neighborhood tavern. Brown and his bandmates aren't glamorous. Their music is correspondingly humble. Yet a string of agreeable hits like "Chicken Fried" and "Toes" has put the Atlanta based-band to work as headliners in arenas. The Sprint Center will be transformed into a sanctuary of low-key charm and relaxed boogie on Friday. Blackberry Smoke, Southern rock traditionalists from Georgia, will set the amiable mood. Tickets to the 7 p.m. show range from $33.50 to $63.50.
Aficionados of New Orleans' fertile music scene may engage in fiery debates about which of the city's acts plays the most righteous brand of funk. There can be little argument, however, that Galactic is currently the most popular funk band from the Crescent City. One reason for the band's success is its eagerness to incorporate wildly disparate sounds including metal and hip-hop into its traditional mix of jazz and R&B. Corey Glover, best known for singing the 1988 hit "Cult of Personality" with Living Color, is Galactic's primary vocalist. Alabama-based dance act Boombox and the Californian hip hop crew Latyrx with Lyrics Born and LaTeef the Truth Speaker open the show. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show are $22.50 in advance and $25.50 on the day of the show.
Not a Planet
A set of videos recently posted to Not a Planet's YouTube channel feature band vocalist Nathan Corsi covering songs by Outkast, the Shins and Amy Winehouse. The mix reflects Not a Planet's eclectic sensibility. Saturday's bill of locally-based rock bands at the Brick is similarly inclusive. Not a Planet's headlining performance will be preceded by three acts. David Hasselhoff on Acid creates noisy art-metal in the vein of Dillinger Escape Plan. The muscular sound of Cherokee Rock Rifle makes it a potent live act. Rev Gusto is a a deceptively imaginative throwback pop band. The show is a fundraiser for the Midcoast Takeover showcase of Kansas City artists at SXSW next month. The cover for the 10 p.m. show is $10.
For fans of the sort of intellectually discerning folk-rock associated with Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens, Kishi Bashi's appearance at the RecordBar will be a contender for the concert of the year. The Virginia-based artist creates gentle soundscapes that awaken gloriously vivid daydreams. When he performs as a one-man band, Bashi builds virtual symphonies by deftly looping samples of his virtuosic work on violin and his flexible voice. A giddy sense of joy imbues all of his material. Plume Giant, a Vaudeville-tinged folk trio from Brooklyn, opens the show.
Tickets to the 9 p.m. show are $10 in advance.
Even in the relatively conservative realm of country, it's uncommon for an artist to hit his or her commercial peak after the age of forty. Yet Gary Allan, 45, topped the country album charts for the first time last month with Set You Free, the ninth album by the gritty veteran. The release was driven by the massive success of the inspirational single "Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain)." The song's motivational tone contrasts with Allan's most distinctive hits. Allan's "Watching Airplanes," "Get Off On the Pain" and "Smoke Rings In the Dark" are among the most gut-wrenching country hits of the past 15 years.Tickets to the 8 p.m. show range from $45 to $75.
The Riot Room is not a gay bar. Even so, the Westport venue will be packed with throngs of people gleefully shouting the words "gay bar" on Sunday. "Gay Bar," the signature song of the Electric Six, is a delirious celebration of desire. The manic Detroit-based garage band specializes in hilariously confrontational songs. By combining the decadent lyrical content of vintage disco with contemporary glam-rock, the band appeals to revelers eager to twist and shout to absurd material with titles like "Dance Commander" and "I Buy the Drugs." The Dead Girls, expert masters of power pop from Lawrence, open the show. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $14 in advance.
Mod Sun's official mission statement- "choose to be happy"- is exemplified by a simplistic world view that extols the virtues of marijuana, tie-dye and sunshine. The titles of songs like "Stop Everything You're Doing Right Now and Smile" and "Forever Woodstock" are certain to make cynical observers smirk. Yet Mod Sun's novel "hippy hop" concept seems to be paying off. The euphoric videos of the Minnesota-based psychedelic rapper have racked up over a million views in the past year. A host of companions including Cisco Adler, Pat Brown, Tayyib Ali and Bryan Lockwood will help Mod Sun spread good vibrations on Sunday. Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the show.
| Bill Brownlee, Special to The Star