Upcoming Concert Reviews of Camp Climax For Girls with Scout's Honor, Bonnie "Prince" Billy/Matt Sweeney and More

More Concerts of Note

Apr 6, 2005 at 2:06 pm
Bonnie "Prince" Billy/Matt Sweeney

Camp Climax For Girls with Scout's Honor, The Defrost Star, Lost Hands Found Fingers

Saturday · Alchemize

Hailing from the St. Louis suburb of Alton, Ill., the boys of Camp Climax For Girls have a great sense of humor and also possibly one of the best sounds of any new band around. For starters, their handle comes from the salaciously-named place Lolita was sent in Stanley Kubrick's 1962 film. This "campy" theme is used liberally and absurdly on their promotional material and artwork in exactly the lewd manner you're hoping. Next is their music, a blasphemous homage to the 1970s that's jarring and engrossing. While CCFG members claim a strong affinity for Classic Rock, they love it in the way a boxer loves his speed bag. And the more they beat the holy hell out of it in the driving style of Hot Snakes or Rye Coalition, the more you love them. While the thick tones and squealing leads of guitarists Steve Ricks and Billy Wallace hearken back to Stevie Ray Vaughan or Hendrix, they're arranged in pure Mathcore fashion, ensuring that only a few fans of the aforementioned guitar gods will have the attention span to dig CCFG. The heavy, Stoner Rock feel from drummer Matt Eberlin (the old man of the group at 30) and the whisky-soaked snarls of Ricks and bassist Drew Mader will probably draw comparisons to Queens of the Stone Age. Honestly, though, QOTSA would be lucky if their new album was half as good as the jaw-dropping debut from CCFG (2004's Ten Dollar Birds). This tour with Scout's Honor (does the theme never end?)

represents their first major excursion outside of their hometown, but St. Louis fans are almost unanimous that the live Climax experience is incomparable. Ah, there's nothing like your first time. (Ezra Waller)

Steve Vai with Eric Sardinas

Saturday · Bogart's

Barely 20 years old and knee-deep in the boiling shit thicket that was a soul-crushingly intense audition for Frank Zappa, Steve Vai was asked to play an insanely complicated guitar line over and over for the Maestro. With each subsequent attempt, a different twist was demanded by Frank: "Now play it backwards. Now faster. Now play it in 11/8, Reggae-style." When Vai finally gave up and declared the last directive "impossible," Zappa said — to the great amusement of other musicians in the room — "Well, I hear Linda Ronstadt is looking for a guitar player." The Zen-like ability to graciously absorb such a brutal joke is perhaps the seminal metaphor for Vai's career. He got the job with Zappa and played in Frank's band for a few years in the early '80s. In between the myriad sideman gigs that followed, Vai began to release albums under his own name, from 1984's aptly-titled Flex-Able (a lo-fi masterpiece rightfully considered a classic in guitar geek circles) up through his latest, Real Illusions: Reflections. Unfortunately, Vai's high-profile gigs with the likes of David Lee Roth and Whitesnake tend to overshadow the unpredictable diversity of the musical path he followed through the '80s and '90s. Due to his otherworldly musicianship, Vai managed to survive the '80s Metal craze with his career, reputation and credibility intact. As a Rock guitarist, he simply defies comparison, except to the true pillars of the field like Hendrix and Edward Van Halen. Fact is, few have really expanded the reach of the instrument like he has. Vai's biggest contribution to the guitar's lineage may be in his use of the guitar as a compositional tool, which (in more ways than one) brings us back to his beginnings with Zappa. Like Frank's, Vai's music really can't be pigeonholed. A sorcerer wielding the guitar like a wizard's wand, he conjures ungodly noises. A guitarist like no other, Steve Vai continues to follow his strange muse into parts unknown. (Ric Hickey)

The Psychedelic Furs

Tuesday · Madison Theater

The last time a lot of people heard from The Psychedelic Furs is when the Furs were asking the musical question, "Isn't she pretty in pink?" But when the answer became, "Why yes, she is pretty in pink," night after night after night, the Furs decided to go their own ways in 1991. "It was really very amicable," says lead singer Richard Butler in the band's official bio. "We had been doing it for so long that the process became predictable. We had a great run, but after you've been playing 'Pretty in Pink' almost every night for 10 years, things are bound to feel pretty old. There weren't any surprises left, so we moved on." The Furs are best known for classic early-to-mid '80s New Wave tracks like "The Ghost in You" and "Love My Way." The band always sounded like the really interesting guys who were into poetry and philosophy but would drink all your bourbon and put out imported cigars on your carpet. In other words, The Psychedelic Furs were languid and decadent in ways acts like The Thompson Twins couldn't even dream about. The comparisons to the Velvet Underground and Bowie at the time were entirely valid. After Butler's great (but underachieving) band Love Spit Love wound down, the Furs reunited in 2000 with three of the original members (Butler, his brother Tim on bass and John Ashton on guitar). Butler's voice isn't quite as gravelly as it was on their '80s hits — I seem to recall reading that he gave up smoking cigars at one point — but it's no less emotive and captivating. He even seems to have lightened up in recent years, contributing a song with Yaz/Erasure's Vince Clarke to the Cartoon Network's Johnny Bravo. But rest assured, the reunited Furs (who have been recording a new album) are still the same bruised poets they were before. And, contrary to Butler's earlier statement, hopefully there are plenty of surprises left. (Dale Johnson)

Bonnie "Prince" Billy/Matt Sweeney with Arboretum

Tuesday · Southgate House

Here's hoping that old saw about music substituting for therapy is spot on. If it's not, Will Oldham is looking at some steep psych bills to reassemble his creative personalities. After years of making music that nibbles at the fringes of Country music in all its varied sonic glories under an equally arrayed group of banners (Palace Brothers, Palace Music, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, his own name), Oldham took the next logical step last year by using his Bonnie "Prince" Billy persona to "cover" the Palace catalog on his last BPB album, Sings Greatest Palace Music. And who better to do it? With a tremulous voice that sounds like a cross between a tipsy Lyle Lovett and a Country-stoked Eddie Vedder, a crack band featuring Hargus Robbins on piano and Stuart Duncan on fiddle and mandolin and a star-studded guest list including Andrew Bird, Tony Crow and Bobby Bare Jr., Oldham/Billy found the true Country heart of a number of Palace classics, particularly the pedal steel/piano beauty of "The Brute Choir," the swinging take on "I Send My Love to You" and the devastating "You Will Miss Me When I Burn." Typical of Oldham's restless creativity, Sings Palace Music was barely canned when he proposed a collaboration with friend Matt Sweeney (Zwan, Chavez) that came out earlier this year as a BPB/Sweeney album entitled Superwolf. Although on paper the pairing doesn't seem logical, Sweeney's Rock résumé lends a certain timbre to Oldham's Country charms and the duo works out a fascinating hybrid of their disparate styles. What all of this bodes for their live presentation of Superwolf (and the rest of Oldham's potential set list) is anybody's guess at this point. With Will Oldham's many creative personalities, anything is possible — and possibility is everything. (Brian Baker)

Matt Sweeney and Bonnie "Prince" Billy