IF YOU'RE NOT OUT ON FRIDAY, YOU HATE MUSIC
In the concert booking business, Tucson is what is known as a secondary market, meaning that big acts often skip us on the first leg of their tours, which is when they hit the bigger cities (aka primary markets) like Los Angeles or Phoenix. This also means that touring acts usually stop in bigger markets on prime dates (read: weekends) while Tucson and cities of its ilk generally get touring acts during the weekdays.
But, for some reason, not this week. Friday, March 29, is the most jam-packed day for live shows in town this week, and that includes touring acts. Here's a look at your Friday options.
With his former band Neutral Milk Hotel, Jeff Mangum only released two full-length albums – On Avery Island in 1996, and 1998's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (both on Merge). The former is a great indie-folk-rock album, but the latter was considered a classic the day it was released. A fuzzy, buzzy song cycle that encompasses everything from body discovery and the fruits it bears to Anne Frank, the album was declared in 2003 by Pitchfork as the fourth best album released in the 1990s.
Depending on your patience for whiny vocals and the lo-fi aesthetic, the album was either virtually unlistenable, or what the late Lester Bangs called Van Morrison's Astral Weeks: not just an album, but a mystical document.
Neutral Milk Hotel toured to support In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, making an in-store stop at the old Tempe location of Stinkweeds records its only Arizona date. And then, poof! Mangum fell out of sight for over a decade, leaving his cultish fans wondering if he'd ever come back to music.
Little by little, he did, popping up unannounced at shows on an Elephant 6 (the musical collective of which NMH was a part) tour, an Occupy Wall Street Rally, etc., until he finally began booking the occasional official show of his own. He began touring regularly again last year, around the same time he issued a comprehensive NMH vinyl-only box set, and reports from the shows often included the word "transcendent."
This week, about 15 years since his last Arizona performance, Jeff Mangum performs at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., on Friday. The all-ages show begins at 8 p.m. with a set by Tall Firs. Advance tickets are $28 for general admission on the floor, or $33 for reserved seats in the balcony. They'll each be $3 more on the day of show. For more info head to rialtotheatre.com or call 740-1000.
Down the street, at the Fox Tucson Theatre, music royalty Booker T. Jones will be holding court on the same night. There is simply no overstating Jones' influence on contemporary music: His signature Hammond B3 playing was a staple of the Stax Records sound – he was a member of the Stax house band – and he co-wrote tunes for the likes of Otis Redding and Albert King, not to mention songs like "Green Onions," which he wrote for his own band, Booker T. and the M.G.s, while he was still in high school. And he hasn't rested on his laurels. In recent years he has collaborated with the likes of The Roots and Drive By Truckers among many others.
Booker T. Jones performs at the Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress St., at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 29. Tickets for the all-ages show are $24 to $52. For further info check out foxtucsontheatre.org or call 547-3040.
Although their name may not be as recognizable as some of their Los Angeles peers, which included X, Black Flag, and the Circle Jerks, the Angry Samoans, who formed in late 1978, were one of the first punk bands to emerge from the West Coast. If they hadn't written a song called "Off the Air," which skewered L.A. DJ and tastemaker Rodney Bingenheimer and got them banned from playing several area clubs, perhaps they'd be better remembered today. Then again, their politically incorrect sense of humor and song titles like "They Saved Hitler's Cock" probably didn't help their cause. But for those who could look past such things, the Angry Samoans were just as great, and as influential, as their better-known peers.
As far as I can tell, the current incarnation of the band includes two original members -- singer-guitarist "Metal" Mike Saunders and drummer Bill Vockeroth – and it appears that's the version that will perform on Friday, March 29, at The District Tavern, 260 E. Congress St. The show starts at 9 p.m. and the openers are Shark Pants, Pop Gestapo, and Kid Puto. For the first time in, like, ever, there will be a cover charge at The District: $10 and an ID proving you're 21 or over gets you in the door. For more info call 791-0082.
Other cool stuff on Friday, March 29: Peelander-Z, Jonathan Best, and The Pork Torta at Plush; Chronicles 7-Year Anniversary featuring Badio, Shaun Harris, Cash Lansky and lots of other great local rappers at Club Congress; Otherly Love, Same Sex Mary, and Acorn Bcorn on the Hotel Congress patio; Al Foul and Tom Walbank and the Ambassadors at Café Passe.
DOWN AT THE BOONDOCKS
If it seems as if that gigantic Chianti bottle that sits at 3306 N. First Ave. has been there longer than 17 years, you're right; it has.
These days the bottle marks the site of Boondocks Lounge, a happening tavern that regularly hosts blues, Americana, country and other acts and will celebrate its 17th anniversary with a triple bill this weekend.
But the bottle itself has been there since 1974, when it was created as part of the design of an Italian restaurant that closed long ago.
Cathy Warner and Bill Shew have been co-owners of Boondocks since it opened in 1996, after teaming up to own a few other businesses around town, including a short stint in the '80s when they owned the Chicago Bar.
But with its lively mix of patrons, a kitchen that turns out killer food, and regular live music, Boondocks Lounge – along with that giant bottle -- has endured.
On Sunday, March 31, the bar will celebrate its 17 years with a show featuring live sets by Little House of Funk (formerly Shaky Bones), who start at 5:30 p.m., Black Skillet Review, who take the middle slot, and Black Cat Bones, who finish up the night. The show will end around 11 p.m. Cover is $5, and you must be 21 or over to attend. For more information head to boondockslounge.com or call 690-0991.
"AN ANNUAL CULTURE HOLIDAY"
From Many Mouths One Stomach, the folks who bring you the All Souls Procession each year, comes what, in its second year, we can safely call the Second Annual Mocktoberfest – in their words, a "Springtime, Tucson & Arizona Beer, Arts, Music, Circus, and Community Carnival," one of several events geared toward raising funds for the Dia de los Muertos extravaganza each fall.
In fact, Mocktoberfest looks to be quite the extravaganza of its own. In addition to being a fundraiser for MMOS, the organization's goal with the event, according to its website, is "to showcase local artisans in a street fair setting along with a number of local breweries to create a twisted replica of a traditional Oktoberfest, but with springttime themes, music, circus performance and workshops, vending of local art, goods, and food. ... we are creating an annual culture holiday."
The festival will feature live music from Chicha Dust, Vox Urbana, Planet Djembe, The Missing Parts and more; DJ performances by Joshua Pocolipse and others; fire performances by Flam Chen; burlesque cabaret including Skirt on Fire: magicians Kenny Stewart and Nate Anderson as the Brothers Macabre!; aerial acts, circus arts, Tesla coil stunts, a dunking booth, giraffes on fire. OK, maybe not that last one, but just about everything else under the sun that makes Tucson the weird, arty place it is.
In other words, I'm leaving out a bunch of stuff that you can read about for yourself at moctoberfest.com. (Also, there's more info on our City Week pages.) The whole shebang runs from 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, until around 2 a.m at Mercado San Agustin, 100 S. Avenida del Convento. Admission is $5 and re-entry is permitted. All ages are welcome and children 10 and under will be permitted for free with an adult. Use the same address as above if you'd like to get involved in any way.
Check out our listings sections for a full rundown of this week's other shows.