Upcoming Concert Reviews of Walking Bicycles, Black Crowes and More...

More Concerts of Note

The Black Crowes



WALKING BICYCLES WITH THE WADING GIRL

Thursday · The Comet

What's more fun than New Wave revivalists? Female-fronted New Wave revivalists, of course. From the Au Pairs and Sonic Youth to Boss Hog and Sleater-Kinney, there's no denying that the juxtaposition of Post Punk catharsis and female energy is a winner. California quartet Walking Bicycles is no exception. Singer Jocelyn Summers' icy, distorted vocals are the perfect complement to the band's angular riffs and tight grooves. Fully intelligible and engaging lyrics are delivered with all of the detached vitriol of her Riot Grrrl forebears. She and guitarist Julius Moriarty had been making music for several years when they picked up bassist Jeromy Lord and drummer Chris Jensen in 2003 and formed Walking Bicycles. A year later, they recorded a compelling, self-titled, self-released EP at L.A.'s Cornerstone Studios.

The sound is very much influenced by the quirky New Wave/Pop bands of the '80s, only slightly less Punk and experimental and very sharp and focused. Most of the songs are hyperactive three-chord affairs that wouldn't have been out of place on Sonic Youth's Goo.

Yet all of the tunes on the album have a deliberate heaviness that doesn't let you forget that the '90s happened, most notably on the plodding "Heavy Horse." The rhythm section packs most of the band's wallop, while the guitar and vocals are a bit tinny but with plenty of presence, no doubt a nod to their No Wave roots. This mixture of aesthetics puts Walking Bicycles somewhere between The Breeders and The Waitresses on the musical map (in geo-temporal terms, that's just north of Columbus in 1986). So far this year they've moved their home base from Eureka, Calif., to Chicago and stayed on the road pretty much constantly. If you missed them at The Comet back in April, now is the time to redeem yourself. (Ezra Waller)

ROBBIE FULKS WITH THE DANNY FRAZIER BAND

Friday · Southgate House

Robbie Fulks has always typified the go-your-own-way ethic of insurgent Country, defining it through his recordings and performances even as he distanced himself from any organized movement. His short-lived and unsatisfying major label experience with Geffen was book-ended by tenures with Bloodshot, all of which showcased Fulks' take-no-prisoners brand of traditional Country, Roots Rock and his own unique spin. The latest chapter in his contentious career is the most ironic. The man who famously wrote "Fuck This Town" about Nashville has just released Georgia Hard, his Yep Roc debut and perhaps his most authentic Country album.

"I was really in the mood for writing Country songs, with the chronological bent these songs have on them, which is the period between 1965 and 1980 or so," Fulks says. "Maybe even up to that little window in the late '80s when I was first getting into Country as a kid and there was that integrity explosion with Dwight Yoakam and Marty Stuart and those guys." Although he could attribute inspiration to many artists, there are some he relies on consistently. "Well, Roger Miller is an ongoing impact. He had it all going on as a writer, a musician, a singer and just as a really broad talent that was able to translate his particular odd muse to big masses of demographically diverse people. And I was listening to Gene Watson and Don Williams and — horrors — Ronnie Milsap. There's a whole idiom of Country that I always felt was a little bit cheesy in the past, but I think I came to appreciate more in the middle years of my life. It's still cheesy, but you can appreciate how things can simultaneously be cheesy and sincere and valuable. And Ronnie Milsap, where previously I thought he was Velveeta, turns out to be Parmesan Oregiano. I'm really sorry I told him to go fuck himself in that earlier song. It's a shame." (Brian Baker)

THE BLACK CROWES WITH TOM PETTY

Tuesday · Riverbend Music Center

When The Black Crowes announced they were breaking up in fall 2001, I took it hard. Year after year, album after album, tour after tour, they'd been a reliable friend to me. They always came through in the thick of some almost always chick-related bullshit to deliver a message packed with brutal truths and bitter wisdom about virtue and vice. With the release of their most ambitious and diverse album, Lions, in early 2001, I rejoiced at what was so obviously just the beginning of Phase 2 for the Crowes. It seemed they'd finally cracked it wide open, all their triumphs and traumas simultaneously laid bare and cast aside. They'd broken through. Then they broke up.

The Brothers Robinson are so notoriously hard-headed and set in their very different ways it was a miracle they ever wrote a single song together. Well-documented in a memorable installment of VH-1's Behind The Music, The Black Crowes are no strangers to ego clashes, personnel fractures, violent break-ups (complete with fisticuffs) and tearful reconciliations. But their undying dedication to the music always won out. Between 1990 and 2001 they recorded six albums and toured relentlessly, but in the years following the raging commercial success of their first LP (Shake Your Money Maker) the band barely registered a blip on the radar. Though their debut had produced no fewer than three major hits, the Crowes languished in relative obscurity for the better part of a decade. Yet their cult following continued to grow and the band earned the reputation they enjoy to this day — a top-notch, blow-the-roof-off-the-dump, blood and guts, kick-ass live act, fearlessly indulging in nightly flights of improvisation and experimentation. Successful tours were undertaken with everyone from Lenny Kravitz to Oasis, and the band enjoyed spending their summers with like-minded road dawgs on both the Horde and Furthur fests. With the exception of "Remedy," radio airplay continued to elude them. The Jam band community's reluctant acceptance was too late to make a difference, the years of non-stop touring took its toll and finally road fatigue became too great for them to endure any longer. The "Britney Culture Run Amok" that is today's music industry showed the Crowes nothing but apathy and the door.

Earlier this year there were rumors of a reunion. When it was announced that the band would be playing a handful of shows in New York City in March there was no debate, deliberation or doubt about going. A five-night run at the Hammerstein Ballroom sold out in 11 minutes, but somehow I got tickets. In front of a "haunted mansion" backdrop, surrounded by hundreds of electric orange candles, Rich Robinson's distorted guitar cut nasty raw through the smoky air like an angry rabid animal. Brother Chris' serious Sunday service soul screech was roaringly high, deep, strong and wide. Jaws dropped. Hairs stood on end. Maybe it's not just coincidence that these reunion shows took place Easter weekend, 'cause this band is clearly back from the dead.

Original guitarist Marc Ford has returned after years of estrangement, his dismissal in 1997 brought on by his own hand (a hand that was rarely seen without a bottle, or worse, in it). Now the prodigal son is back in the fold, looking healthier and playing better than ever. Even with fill-in drummer Bill Dobrow beating the skins for the first two months of the tour, the reformed Crowes were whipping up some of the sickest jams of their career. Now with the scant reunion shows turned into a full-on return tour, original drummer Steve Gorman is firmly ensconced behind the kit where he belongs and the Crowes are flying high again, performing at the peak of their formidable powers. They continue to play a completely different set list every night, always including a cross-section of their well-known tunes mixed with obscure as-yet-unreleased songs and a heapin' helpin' of cover tunes by the likes of Little Feat, Gram Parsons, The Band, Dylan, The Stones and even The Beatles.

Write them off as some '70s Rock re-hash, and it's your loss. The Crowes' visceral boogie is burning bright again and they're coming to town with Tom Petty. With that, you actually have a good reason to go to Riverbend at least once this summer. (Ric Hickey)

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