If Wilco likes you, they really like you. If Wilco doesn't like you, they tend to carry a grudge. At least that would seem to be the lesson we can draw from the group's return to Tucson this week.
The experimental roots band first played Tucson on Nov. 9, 1996, at The Rock, shortly after the release of their second album, the two-disc set Being There. Here's how I previously described the show: "The band delivered on every front—but it's too bad the club didn't return the favor. After a brief opening set by The Handsome Family, Wilco blazed through one of the best sets I've ever witnessed. It was raw where it needed to be, yet polished when called for; band and audience alike were having a blast. After a transcendent version of Being There's opening salvo, "Misunderstood," during which (Jeff) Tweedy jumped into the audience, the band was unexpectedly done. The geniuses running The Rock at the time cut short the set to make sure that Wilco didn't disrupt their dance night, which began the second the band was done performing—never mind that no one was actually there to dance yet."
Based on conversations with band members, who went out carousing at the late, lamented Airport Lounge after the show, they were pissed. So pissed, in fact, that it would be another 13 years before the band would return to Tucson. (To be fair, they had a show scheduled for the Rialto Theatre in 2004 that ended up being canceled when Tweedy entered rehab for prescription painkillers.) They sold out a show at UA's Centennial Hall, with Grizzly Bear opening, in 2009.
By that point, the band had become a different one entirely than the version that performed at The Rock—both in membership and the music they were playing. Aside from Jeff Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt was, and is, the only remaining member from the band's first incarnation. (Rest in peace, Jay Bennett.) And over the last several years, they've added guitar genius Nels Cline to the fold, and veered from delicate, straightforward acoustic numbers and country-rock tunes to krautrock-inspired jams and noisy earfucks—and back again. Just take a listen to last year's The Whole Love (dBpm/ANTI-) for proof.
Along with the adoring audience, they must have had an enjoyable experience at that Centennial show: A mere three years later, they're returning to town this week for a performance at the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall. And, to sweeten the deal even further, they're bringing Jonathan Richman with drummer Tommy Larkins as openers. (Related note: Tucson can no longer claim Larkins as our own, as he recently relocated to upstate New York.)
I, for one, am stoked that Wilco will appear at the TCC Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave., on Wednesday, Sept. 19. Richman will open the all-ages show at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster (ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000) for $38 and $44 before service charges. For more information, head to rialtotheatre.com, or call 740-1000.
Maná is likely the biggest Mexican band in the world. A few of the Guadalajara-based band's many accolades: The group's fifth album, 1992's ¿Dónde Jugarán Los Niños? (WEA Latina), is the best-selling Spanish-language album of all time; the band has won four Grammy Awards and seven Latin Grammy Awards. And they've done it with an interesting amalgam of styles ranging from pop and reggae to calypso and rock.
Following its participation in the Sound Strike boycott of Arizona due to the passage of SB 1070, Maná broke its boycott in May, when it performed a sold-out show at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, despite protesters outside of the arena.
This week, Maná returns to Tucson for the first time since the boycott. They'll perform at 7:30 p.m., next Thursday, Sept. 20, at the TCC Arena, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets for the all-ages show are available through Ticketmaster and the venue box office. Tickets range from $43 to $123 before service charges. For tickets, head to ticketmaster.com, or call (800) 745-3000. For more info, call 791-4101.
COUNTRY BEFORE GLITTER
If the professional party planners of MEOWmeow Productions know one thing, it's that there's no rest for the wicked. The clan has been on quite a roll—its most recent feat was to resurrect Freddie Mercury for a set of Queen hits at the singer's birthday bash at Club Congress—and this week, they're back with two very different parties.
Up first is Ho Down! The Country Revue, which the crew describes as "a night of country, hay bales and boot-stompin' fun." The evening will feature live performances by the Wild Stallions of Hell, The Get Right Rounders and Sunny Italy, and DJ (and MEOWmeow head honcho) Jared "Kitty Katt" McKinley will spin lots of old country tunes between acts to keep the two-stepping going.
Ho Down! The Country Revue starts at 10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14, at La Cocina, 201 N. Court Ave. Admission is $3. For more information, head to lacocinatucson.com, or call 622-0351.
The fun continues the very next night when MEOWmeow takes over the Rialto Theatre for the group's biggest party of the year, Glitterball. This will be the third installment of the event (the first two were thrown by MEOWmeow's precursor, Powhaus Productions), which celebrates everything '70s glam-rock (so dress accordingly).
Uranus resident Kitty Quasar—along with his sister Titania ("queen of the moon of Uranus that is of the same name")—will once again beam in to host the event, which will feature live sets by Sugar Stains and Phoenix's Scorpion vs. Tarantula. The event will also feature a reprise of the Queen set. DJs B-Rad and The Vinyl Baron will spin glam tunes to keep you dancing between the live acts. And, from a press release: "The Celestial Bodies of Uranus, an alien burlesque group, will be exposing exotic anatomy, and Glitter Fairies will baptize the willing with glitter bombs and glitter showers (if you promise not to be born again)." What that means from personal experience: If you attend the event, you will be finding glitter all over your house for the next few months. Trust me; it's worth it.
The Glitterball gets rolling at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St. Admission is $5, and you must be 18 or older to attend. More information is available at rialtotheatre.com, or by calling 740-1000.
AN OLD-TIMEY SATURDAY NIGHT
Illinois native, St. Louis resident and Jack White collaborator Pokey LaFarge brings his band Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three to town for a night of acoustic old-timey music this week. The group convincingly spins out authentic country blues, ragtime, jazz and pretty much every other style that falls under the umbrella of Americana.
Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three perform at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Sept. 15. Tom Walbank and the Ambassadors open at 9:45 p.m. Advance tickets are $8 and available at plushtucson.com; they'll be $10 at the door. Call 798-1298 for answers to any questions.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Tons of other great stuff is happening around town this week. Here are some highlights: Diunna Greenleaf and Blue Mercy and Bob Corritore at Suite 147 at Plaza Palomino on Friday, Sept. 14; Generation Cool with the Minibosses and others at Club Congress on Saturday, Sept. 15; Lenguas Largas, Dez Vibz and Acorn Bcorn at The District Tavern on Friday, Sept. 14; the B-Side Players, The Jons and Carlos Arzate at Club Congress on Friday, Sept. 14; Andy Hersey at the inaugural installation of the Truelove and Friends series each Tuesday at Monterey Court on Tuesday, Sept. 18; The Used, Twin Atlantic and Stars in Stereo at the Rialto Theatre on Wednesday, Sept. 19; The Dirty Heads, Pacific Dub and Something Like Seduction at The Rock on Friday, Sept. 14; Cuchillo at Club Congress on Wednesday, Sept. 19; Tab Benoit at the Rialto Theatre on Tuesday, Sept. 18; Little Texas at Thursday Thunder at Monsoon Nightclub at Desert Diamond Casino next Thursday, Sept. 20; The Imposters, Man Bites Dog, Kid Puto and Pop Gestapo at Tucson Live Music Space on Sunday, Sept. 16; Triple Double Band at The Hut on Friday, Sept. 14; Bearkat, David Ragland and Logan Greene at The HangArt on Friday, Sept. 14; Jeff Dunham at AVA at Casino del Sol on Saturday, Sept. 15; Hank Topless at Borderlands Brewing Company on Friday, Sept. 14; Run-On Sunshine, Tinsels, Dying Bedmaker and Ocean Void at Tucson Live Music Space, tonight, Thursday, Sept. 13; Alejandro Fernandez at AVA at Casino del Sol on Friday, Sept. 14; Logan Greene Electric and The Sadie Hawks at Sky Bar next Thursday, Sept. 20; and lots more, so check our listings section.