STILL MISS YOU, BUN E.
When I first saw the announcement that a double bill of Cheap Trick and Pat Benatar and Neil Geraldo was coming to AVA at Casino del Sol, the listing had Benatar following Rockford, Ill.'s finest. There must be a mistake, I thought. Who in their right mind would have the cojones to follow Cheap Trick? As it turns out, not Benatar. Recent listings show Cheap Trick playing last.
Sure, Benatar had way more chart hits: "Heartbreaker," "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," "Love Is a Battlefield," "Hell Is for Children," "We Live for Love," "Treat Me Right" — this could go on for a while. And she's nothing if not a paragon of the tough-chick rocker who's just looking to be loved the way she deserves to be loved, and won't accept anything less, damnit. But have you ever seen Cheap Trick perform live?
Just so you know where I'm coming from on this, I consider Cheap Trick to be one of the greatest American rock bands, period. While their list of chart hits may be far shorter than Benatar's, I'd put the band's first three albums — 1977's one-two punch of the self-titled debut and In Color, along with 1978's Heaven Tonight (all on Epic) — up against anything released in the era. Things got a little spottier from there, but every one of the group's albums has at least a few perfect gems.
Believe me, I've got nothing against Benatar. And, for the record, I've never seen her perform live. It's just that, nearly 40 years on in their career, Cheap Trick is still a killer live band. I can't count the number of times I've seen them over the years (the first was on the Live at Budokan tour — yes, I'm that old), and I've never once seen them play a bad show, or merely dial it in. If they're not exactly hungry anymore, they still play like it's a privilege, which is no easy thing to sustain.
When I interviewed Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen several years ago, I told him I was a huge fan. "Then write that," he replied. "People tell me that all the time, but they never write it." I believe my work here is done, Mr. Nielsen.
Cheap Trick and Pat Benatar and Neil Geraldo perform at 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 16, at AVA at Casino del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road. Tickets range in price from $30 (for the lawn) to $85. VIP packages are sold out. For more information, visit casinodelsol.com or call 838-6700.
SWEET IS THE MELODY
Over the course of a 20-year-plus career, Iris DeMent has only released five albums, but it has been enough to place her in the highest echelon of country-folk singer-songwriters.
Go back and put on Infamous Angel, her 1992 Warner Bros. debut, and marvel at how fully formed a singer, and how gifted a songwriter she was straight out of the gate. Hell, listen to the first song, "Let the Mystery Be," which has been covered to death since, and realize that no matter how many different versions of the song are released, there is simply no topping the original. Even better are the ballads, including "After You're Gone," a heart-wrenching song about her dying father.
Last year, DeMent released Sing the Delta (Flariella), her first new batch of original songs in 16 years. (Her previous release, 2004's Lifeline, was a collection of gospel standards she grew up singing.) While it doesn't quite reach the heights of her first couple releases, it's one hell of a reemergence from one of the highest regarded singer-songwriters of the last two decades.
Iris DeMent performs at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., next Thursday, June 20. Peter McLaughlin opens the all-ages show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets run $27 to $38. Head to rialtotheatre.com or call 740-1000 to purchase them.
YOUR CLUB CONGRESS WRAPUP
In addition to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Ariel Pink shows written about in our feature articles this week, Hotel Congress has one hell of a week in store for us music dorks. In chronological order, here are but a few highlights.
The story of Texas-based trio Girl in a Coma is a pretty good one: Band names itself after a Smiths song; Morrissey's guitarist gets a copy of a homemade demo and invites the band to England to record a proper demo for them; as part of a documentary about young Latino bands, in which they're featured, they play a show at NYC's Knitting Factory, where Joan Jett offers them a contract to record on her Blackheart Records label; it all comes full circle when Morrissey asks the band to open some tour dates for him. Not bad, eh?
But good things don't come to bands just because they're named after a Smiths song. With crunchy guitars and a passel of excellent poppy, punky songs (not to mention Nina Diaz's irresistible voice), the group has earned any breaks they've been given.
It's been a couple years since Girl in a Coma released Exits & All the Rest (Blackheart), so don't be surprised if they trot out some new tunes when they perform at Club Congress on Saturday, June 15. The 7 p.m., 18-and-older show will also feature sets by Piñata Protest and Irontom. Tickets are $12 in advance, $14 on the day of show.
With Dimitri Manos splitting his time between Dr. Dog and Golden Boots these days, shows by the latter have become a precious rarity. So, just in case you need another reason to not miss the local band's show this week, consider that they're playing with Floating Action.
What's that? You've never heard of Floating Action? Oh, OK. Well, Jim James has, and he not only raved about them to Rolling Stone, but also asked them to open for My Morning Jacket. They've opened some shows for Band of Horses, too. And they were labelmates with Golden Boots a few years ago, when both released albums on Park the Van Records.
In truth, Floating Action is one guy, Seth Kauffman, who does all the recording himself, but brings a band with him on the road to perform live. Like the Boots, his songs have a certain quirk factor that's hard to put one's finger on, but that's just part of their charm. Floating Action songs have less twang than the Boots' tunes, but they're cut from a similar frayed cloth.
Floating Action and Golden Boots perform a free, 21-and-over show at 8 p.m. on Monday, June 17, on the Hotel Congress Plaza.
It's tough to not judge a band based on its name. We all do it. For this reason, I was inclined to dislike the band TEEN before I had heard a note of their music. Their cause was helped slightly when I realized they weren't a Disney-esque tween project dreamed up by guys in suits who get a little overexcited at the prospect of young girls bouncing around on stage to radio-pop hits, but rather the band fronted by former Here We Go Magic member Teeny Lieberson (ah, it's all starting to make sense now). So, no, you won't be hearing TEEN's music in High School Musical 9: Freshmen's Revenge. The group's keyboard-heavy songs range from the moody, spare and dreamy "Just Another," which wouldn't sound out of place on a Warpaint album, to the lo-fi, subtly propulsive "Cannibal."
TEEN performs a free, 21-and-older show at Club Congress on Wednesday, June 19. Dream Sick opens the show at 8 p.m. Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. For more info about any of these shows, head to hotelcongress.com/club or call 622-8848.
ON THE BANDWAGON
Martina McBride at AVA at Casino del Sol on Tuesday, June 18; Jessica Fichot at La Cocina on Friday, June 14; Faun Fables and Bear Bodies at Solar Culture Gallery on Tuesday, June 18; Garrison Starr and Adrianne Gonzalez at La Cocina on Sunday, June 16; Water Liars, the Electric Blankets, and Secret Meetings at Plush on Friday, June 14; Katie and the Lichen, ok vancouver ok, Run-On Sunshine (tour kickoff), Hip Don't Dance, and Tinsels at Tucson Live Music Space on Friday, June 14; Park Place Guitar Festival on Friday, June 14, and Saturday, June 15; Art Under the Stars: Benefit for the Tucson Arts Brigade with the Palladio String Quartet, Baba Kosan and Friends, the Greg Morton Band, Stuart Oliver and the Desert Angels, and the HypnoGogs at La Cocina on Tuesday, June 18; Local Love presents Metal Fest with We Killed the Union, Angelic to Ashes, Stands With Fists, Scorned Embrace, Our Daily Trespasses, and Solace in Nothing at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, June 14; Farewell My Love, Snow White's Poison Bite, Late Night Reading and more at The Rock on Friday, June 14; Yacht Rock with the Platinum Foxes at La Cocina next Thursday, June 20; Igor and the Red Elvises at Plush on Saturday, June 15; The Modeens and Serene Dominic and the Gem Seekers at Sky Bar on Saturday, June 15; FLUXX Productions presents: WHET dance party at Hotel Congress on Saturday, June 15; Bricktop, City of Vain, and Crashed Out at Surly Wench Pub on Tuesday, June 18.