Shows of the Week: A Tightrope Walker at Ease With Pop, Rock and Soul
Photo by Laura Crosta/Courtesy of BB Gun PR
White Oak Music Hall, October 11
Since her eponymous debut EP dropped in 2003, Rachael Yamagata has been in high demand as both a singer and songwriter, collaborating with the likes of Ray LaMontagne, Mandy Moore, Bright Eyes and Rhett Miller of the Old ‘97s. After studying at Northwestern University Yamagata, now 39, joined the popular Chicago-based funk outfit Bumpus on vocals, helping her develop a style that draws liberally from pop, rock and soul; lyrically, her emotional range is just as broad. Now based in Woodstock, N.Y., Yamagata is a big proponent of crowdfunding and last month released Tightrope Walker, her first full-length album of original material since 2011’s Chesapeake, via PledgeMusic.
THE FAINT, GANG OF FOUR
House of Blues, October 13
Perhaps the least Nebraska-sounding band to ever hail from the Cornhusker State, Omaha’s The Faint stood out from Saddle Creek labelmates Cursive and Bright Eyes like a vampire in a room of hoodie-clad undergrads. Welding the robotic sexuality of Krautrock to squelchy synth-punk and occasional New Romantic moments, The Faint went straight to the hips of all the kids who only pretended to disdain the dance floor, a strategy revisited in great detail on recent anthology CAPSULE: 1999-2016. That said, the last word in mechanical soul remains with Gang of Four, the UK post-punk pioneers who expertly cross-bred leftist politics with sweaty white-boy funk on late-‘70s albums like That’s Entertainment! and have lost little if any of their potency two or three generations later. With Pictureplane.
BAD RELIGION, AGAINST ME!
Warehouse Live, October 14
There aren't many constants in the world of music, but one of them is that Bad Religion will always deliver live. Call it a byproduct of having performed their brand of political punk rock for audiences for more than 35 years now, but Bad Religion are a well-oiled machine at this point, seemingly incapable of a bad performance. That 2016 just happens to be a year where many of their messages are resonating extra hard is an added bonus. Sharing the stage with them on this tour is Against Me!, another band that doesn't shy away from punk rock as a way to get a meaning across. As they mix tracks from the recently released Shape Shift With Me with back-catalog classics, expect much of the crowd to be singing along with modern punk icon Laura Jane Grace. This show might be just the cure to your election-time blues. With Dave Hause. CORY GARCIA
ELVIS COSTELLO & THE IMPOSTORS
Revention Music Center, October 14
Elvis Costello calling his current U.S. outing “Detour” is classic misdirection, encapsulating both his impish humor and gritty determination. One of rock’s most prolific, versatile, curious and erudite songwriters, Costello is simply allergic to standing still, perpetually stoking a restless spirit that in recent times has produced collaborations with T-Bone Burnett and The Roots, not to mention last year’s Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, one of the decade’s most distinguished rock memoirs. Part magpie, part pub philosopher, the 62-year-old trumpeter’s son has accumulated a four-decade discography full of New Wave classics; forays into classical, ‘60s R&B, and traditional pop; and some of the greatest country music ever recorded by a Brit. Uniting them all are Costello’s ability to veer from acid wit to naked vulnerability within the space of a few songs (or even a few lines), hallmarks of an artist as unique as he is unsatisfied. With Larkin Poe.
White Oak Music Hall, October 14
In Aztec mythology, the monkey Ozomatli was considered the companion spirit of the god of music and dance. The L.A.-based band sharing that monkey’s name has produced fun, eclectic and thought-provoking musica that rocks every stage they touch through seven studio albums, from 1998’s self-titled debut through 2014’s Place In the Sun. Friday’s stop in Houston should be yet another lively, uptempo and ultimately sweaty night filled with an ensalada of Latino sounds, groovy hip-hop, and funky jazz beats, but Ozomatli are much more than a force to party with. They’re also adamant human-rights activists, using music to champion social change while promoting unity and serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. State Department, traveling all over the globe to spread good vibes to anyone within earshot. MARCO TORRES
ZIEGENBOCK MUSIC FESTIVAL
Sam Houston Race Park, October 15
Approaching its 14th edition, the Ziegenbock Festival brings together many of the biggest and baddest Texas country artists south of the Red River (and a few from up north) for nearly 12 hours of solid carryin’ on. This year’s headliners include the Josh Abbott Band, Cody Johnson (pushing his fantastic new album Gotta Be Me), Aaron Lewis, Roger Creager, Kevin Fowler, Casey Donahew Band and William Clark Green. Look over on Stage 3 and you’ll find Houston’s own Rosehill, the New Offenders, Buck Yeager Band and Josh Fuller Band, among others. The smart way to go is just shell out $125 for the RV parking package; Lord knows you may not want to drive home after all that.
CHANCE THE RAPPER
Revention Music Center, October 15
Chance The Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring Book World Tour seizes on a typically kinetic TV performance, likely as not to go viral, and stretches it out for 90 minutes. He has enough clout in his native Chicago to sell out U.S. Cellular Field for his own festival, and literally everyone wants to associate with him. But there’s no shell game, no secret mystery behind Chance The Rapper’s stranglehold on hip-hop. Much like with his mentor Kanye West, the genre is a lot more fun when he’s around. His mixture of secular bounce, Chicago juke, gospel and autobiographical confession are what made Coloring Book, his free project released in May, exceptional. Chance constantly smiling, engaging the audience and riffing off massive theatrical songs that blend whatever idea of church you have with the modern world? That’s what makes his live shows exceptional. BRANDON CALDWELL
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