Upcoming Concert Reviews of The Hold Steady, Alejandro Escovedo and more...

More Concerts of Note

Jun 1, 2005 at 2:06 pm
The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady with Staggering Statistics

Wednesday · Southgate House

Reading The Hold Steady's lyric sheet is fun. Craig Finn, the Brooklyn-based band's lead shouter and songwriter, is a modest looking guy with glasses, a gut and a way with words. Like last year's refreshingly out-of-step debut Almost Killed Me, the new Separation Sunday revels in Finn's barroom poetics and his band's crunchy power chords. A preacher at the pulpit, Finn spreads his gospel via the Church of Rock, spewing insights with reckless abandon: "At least in dying you don't have to deal with New Wave a second time." Album opener "Hornets! Hornets!" brings to mind the bar band down the street — that is, until Finn opens his mouth. Typically, it's about a girl: "She's got those Bones Brigade videos/She knows them back and forth/She's slept with so many skaters." He sounds like my uncle after a six-pack: full of piss and endearingly obnoxious bluster. Mid-record highpoint "Stevie Nix" opens with a raucous riff as Finn spits, "You came into the party all wrapped up in a long black shawl." A few bars later we get another of his many well-worded, pop culture savvy confessions: "She said, 'You remind me of Rod Stewart when he was young/You got passion, you think that you're sexy and all the punks think that you're dumb.'

" A close second in terms of head-sticking catchiness, "Multitude of Casualties" sports sharp guitars and shimmering keyboards, evoking a synthesis of '70s mainstays the E-Street Band and Cheap Trick, whose respective sounds are most assuredly embedded in Finn and lead guitarist Tad Kubler's DNA. Oh, and so are Joe Walsh and Thin Lizzy and even Hüsker Dü. But it's mostly about Finn's words, which should sound grand echoing throughout The Southgate House's equally evocative confines. (Jason Gargano)

Alejandro Escovedo with Jon Dee Graham

Thursday · Southgate House

In April 2003, Roots/Americana legend Alejandro Escovedo collapsed following a show in Phoenix and was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. The extent of the disease and subsequent treatment prevented him from touring, his primary source of income; for months, he was unable to play guitar due to tremors caused by an anti-depressant he was taking. "It made my hands shake so badly I couldn't even hold a guitar," Escovedo says from his home in Austin, Texas. "I think I missed that the most." He dropped greasy food from his diet, quit drinking and began taking better care of himself. After an extended hiatus, during which The Alejandro Fund was established to help defray his mounting uninsured medical bills (resulting in two discs entitled Por Vida, one an interim Escovedo release, the other an incredible tribute album/benefit project), Escovedo has finally regained his health to a point where he has begun touring on a limited basis (currently a few scattered dates in Austin and one weekend out of town per month). "I'm going to continue on that path and see if I can get stronger and maybe push it to two weekends a month," he says. When he hits town this week, he'll be bringing nearly his full band, which includes guitarist Jon Dee Graham (who was in Escovedo's True Believers in the mid-'80s and who will open the show, then join the band for Escovedo's set), former Spirit/Jo Jo Gunne bassist Matt Andes and Poi Dog Pondering violist Susan Voelz. This is nearly the lineup (minus one cellist) that wowed the crowd at Austin's Auditorium Shores during this year's South By Southwest when Escovedo opened for his hero/influence Ian Hunter. Hunter even brought Escovedo out to duet on "I Wish I Was Your Mother," which Escovedo covered on his 1994 EP, The End/Losing Your Touch. "In a way, these shows are really more about wanting to say thank you to everybody," Escovedo says about his limited tour dates. "Because I can't write everyone and I'm terrible at returning messages. So I figured this would be a good way to do it as best I can." And that's the ultimate irony. Just as we should be thanking Alejandro Escovedo for the amazing music he's bestowed upon us all over the past 25 years, he comes to town to thank us for listening. (Brian Baker)

22-20s with Cathedrals and The Elliot Ruther Trio

Saturday · The Mad Hatter

Not sure whether it's necessarily stubbornness or pride, but the U.K. music scene hasn't been quick to produce many Garage Rock sound-alikes. I guess they could claim (correctly) that the Stones handled that just fine decades ago. Well, if the Mick and Co. of yesteryear had 21st-century production capabilities at their disposal, the result might have been similar to the 22-20s, a buzz band from Lincolnshire. The foundation of the group is a pair of guitarists, Martin Trimble and Glen Bartup, who have been gigging together since their teens. From an early age, the schoolmates' primary musical influence was Chicago and Delta Blues, and they played around England cutting their teeth on standards. Trimble's guitar-playing developed considerable range during this period, from slinky acoustic numbers to rough-and-ready Rock. In 2002, Bartup switched to bass and they recruited drummer James Irving and keyboardist Charlie Coombes. Irving reinforced their heavy bent, and Coombes filled out their sound with a funky swagger. A demo quickly garnered attention from a number of U.K. labels, with Heavenly Records coming out the lucky winner. The band then began several years of intense touring, including opening slots for Jet and Kings of Leon, during which time a number of EPs were spawned. They finally got around to recording a full-length last year in the midst of several high-profile festival appearances. Their eponymous debut combines youthful exuberance with traditional Blues elements, mating their swampy sound with slick production. The songs are heavy on strumming and light on soloing, mainly balls-out but sometimes reserved. It's a streamlined affair, almost like a British Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Stateside, Astralwerks has issued the album and the band made a critical splash at South By Southwest. Fresh off of an NME tour of Britain with The Zutons, the 22-20s are kicking around the Midwest for a few weeks on their way to Bonnaroo, giving us a chance to catch these rising stars in one of the area's newest Rock clubs. (Ezra Waller)