HOT GOODBYESummer does weird things to Tucsonans, and the folks who populate the local musical landscape certainly aren't exempt. The impending, sweltering heat provides a perfect excuse for bands to hit the road in search of new fans and literal greener pastures. And for musically inclined individuals who have been contemplating relocating to more temperate climes, it offers a timely out, sometimes leaving said individuals' bandmates in the lurch. Tour-van bonding and band breakups are the norm once the thermometer starts edging its way toward 100 degrees.
Last week saw the final Ladies and Gentlemen show; next week, The Hillwilliams will perform for the last time; Chango Malo, Manifold and The Solace Bros. embark on tours soon; and this week, The Therapists lose their bassist.
Tucson music has always been about peaks and valleys, about bands coming and going, starting up and breaking up, sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently. In other words, Tucson music has always been about change, and as we all know from reading our Bartlett's, change is good.
While I'm always sorry to see bands I love call it quits and friends moving thousands of miles away (and at the same time, I'm proud that local bands are out there representing Tucson to the rest of the country, in pursuit of something bigger), it's all for good reason--the choices people make to reinvigorate their lives.
Here's offering best wishes to all Tucson musicians getting outta town for the summer, whether they're returning or not.
TRIPLE THREATLately, it seems Tucson has been invaded by instrumental rock bands of varying methods. Last week, metallic free-jazzers Hella turned in a hell of a set, and this week brings shows from Trans Am (see accompanying article) and the recently reformed Don Caballero.
Now more than a decade old (taking into account breakups and reformations), in their day, Pittsburgh's Don Cab were math-rock trailblazers. Where Slint's arrangements ebbed and flowed, Don Caballero's were pure testosterone-juiced rave-ups, with just enough structural comprehension to woo newbies.
The band's ace-in-the-hole leader has always been drummer Damon Che. Ask yourself this question: How many bands' MVP is the drummer? Yep, he's that good and more.
DC opens for local power-sextet Chango Malo, one of the aforementioned bands heading out on a summer tour. Get yer dose of the naughty monkeys while you can, peeps.
And as if that weren't enough, openers The Therapists perform with bassist Nate Rostance for the last time, as the Congress bartender is moving to Minnesota. Nate, we'll miss you and those Dillinger Sidecars more than you know. No one mixes 'em quite like you.
The triple threat--open to all 18 or older--kicks off at 9 p.m. on Friday, May 21 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Cover is $7. For details, call 622-8848.
JONATHAN "INFLUENTIAL" RICHMANIf you don't know who Jonathan Richman is by now, I'm not sure I can be of much help. Still--because I like you--I'll do my best to provide a crash course.
Influenced by the two-chord triumphs of the Velvet Underground, Richman's band The Modern Lovers' first incarnation came together in 1970, but later gelled with future members of Talking Heads (Jerry Harrison) and The Cars (David Robinson). Sessions that the group recorded in the ensuing years were finally released eponymously and posthumously in 1976; The Modern Lovers still stands as one of the early punk benchmarks, so influential that the Sex Pistols (and countless others since) covered their song "Roadrunner" and asked the band to open its first and only U.S. tour.
By that point, Richman was engaged in other pursuits. He was writing songs that have been described as "children's music for adults," a tag that's somewhat insulting to his body of work. In fact, via his deceptively simple lyrics, he's explored a multitude of styles over the years, delivered with a rare charm that combines naivete and hip-shaking swagger. It's one of the few shows you and your grandma can enjoy equally. As long as your grandma's pretty hip.
And though I hate to resort to this, Richman and drummer Tommy Larkins (a Tucson resident) played the part of the Greek chorus in There's Something About Mary. Hey, whatever it takes for the man to get his due respect.
Jonathan Richman and Tommy Larkins perform on Wednesday, May 26, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Jesse DeNatale opens. Advance tickets are available for $10 at the front desk of Hotel Congress or online at hotcong.com/club/. They'll be $12 on the day of the show. Questions? Ring 'em up at 622-8848.
I'M SOLD!Dan Bejar's Destroyer has always dodged comparisons to David Bowie, regardless of each successive album's own merits, which are plentiful and manifest. The comparisons aren't unwarranted: Bejar's dramatic vocals and ever-changing personae certainly recall the Thin White Duke. Maybe it's a reaction to his role as one of two primary songwriters in The New Pornographers, whose tunes are instantly catchy though somewhat complex, but Destroyer's latest album, Your Blues (2004, Merge), is Bejar's most artful effort yet.
Bowie's skidmarks are still present, but the disc adds an element of drama heretofore unheard by Destroyer. Bejar's poetic cheekiness is still the M.O. lyrically ("New Ways of Living" opens with a not-so-subtle reference to "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" before launching into lines like: "Treacherous fop, don't be embarrased / for looking good at your table on the terrace, that you call home / I'm sold! / Paris, London, Rome's too old for you / and your kind"), but orchestrated synths are everywhere here, replacing Destroyer's glam-pop of yore with a certain theatricality. Instead of Bowie, these songs echo the likes of homage-payers Velvet Goldmine and Hedwig, histrionics firmly in place.
Destroyer performs at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Sunday, May 23. Opening at 9 p.m. are Pitchfork darlings Frog Eyes (the snarks called the band's debut album The Golden River "as stunning and imaginative as it is memorable and affecting") and The Ballad of Johnny Glen. Admission runs you $7. Call 622-8848 for more information.
GO HOME AGAINWhen I was in grade school, I was the biggest KISS dork there ever was. Yes, I had the model van, the Destroyer cover puzzle, posters galore, songbooks and every magazine that had the word "kiss" in it. But even as a young'un, my critical faculties kicked in: Somewhere between the release of Love Gun (1977) and the four simultaneously released solo albums (1978), I realized their day was done.
And while I'm certainly no fan of tribute bands as a rule, my hopes are high for KISS Army, who recreate the KISS experience circa 1977. In other words, before they started on the downward slope that has plagued them for the last 25 years. But damn if that early stuff doesn't still make me feel like a kid again.
I beg of you, KISS Army: Please deliver the goods, won'tcha? After all, a bit of regression is healthy every now and again.
KISS Army performs on Friday, May 21, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Love Mound opens at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $7. Call 798-1298 for more 411.
ON THE BANDWAGONDuane Peters and The Hunns (aka Die Hunns) features the band's renowned namesake singer, the former frontman for the Brit-punk-inspired U.S. Bombs. False Promise and a band TBA open the show at 9 p.m. on Friday, May 21, at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St. Call 622-3535 for more info.
The band that can rightly claim the title of releasing the all-time best-selling album in these United States (Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, at 28 million copies sold, as of last November) pops into town this week, now that hell has frozen over for the dozenth time. The Eagles continue their never-ending farewell reunion tour right here in the Old Pueblo at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 24, at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets run a measly $75 to $125, and you can get yours at all Ticketmaster locations, ticketmaster.com, or by calling 321-1000. Call 791-4266 for further details.
Who had any idea that dada, the band responsible for that travesty of an early alt-rock hit, "Dizz Knee Land," were still around, let alone still releasing albums? Amazingly, their latest, How to Be Found (2004, Blue Cave), doesn't suck at all. Sure, it's no masterpiece or anything, but it comprises a batch of tasteful--if slightly bland--tunes that seek to emulate the Beatles but settle for latter-day Posies. And really, there's not much harm in that, is there? dada lands at City Limits, 6350 E. Tanque Verde Road, at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 21. All tix are $11, available in advance at the venue and all Ticketmaster outlets, online at ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 321-1000. For more information, call 733-6262.