Don Caballero with Zombi, Ampline and Death In Graceland
Thursday · Southgate House
It's been a long, tumultuous ride for Indie/Math/Jazz rockers Don Caballero. Wildly talented rhythmatist Damon Che assembled the band's first iteration in Pittsburgh in 1991 as a two guitar/bass/drum quartet; they had gigs lined up before hiring a vocalist, so they became an instrumental group by default. Don Cab's 1993 Steve Albini-produced debut, For Respect, garnered them a great deal of positive press and attention, as did their 1995 follow-up, 2, widely considered one of the classics of the Math genre. But Don Caballero's fiery style was matched by internal tensions, and the lineup changed after every album, to the extent that the band was pared down to a trio after 1998's What Burns Never Returns.
After releasing a compilation of their early singles and a new, less frenetic studio album — 2000's American Don — Don Caballero called it a day, Che and his compatriots retreating to the various side projects they'd inhabited throughout the band's history. Che assembled Bellini in 2002 but left after a single album in order to pursue a new version of Don Caballero, which essentially consisted of Che becoming the drummer for Creta Bourzia, a Pittsburgh Math Rock outfit that had been heavily influenced by Don Cab. Che co-opted the band entirely, changing their name to Don Caballero, securing a new label deal with Relapse and releasing their fifth album, World Class Listening, this year. See this latest version of Don Caballero before it too explodes like a Spinal Tap drummer. (Brian Baker)
X and Rollins Band with The Riverboat Gamblers and 7 Shot Screamers
Saturday · Bogart's
In the late '70s, the splashy Punk scenes in New York and London were grabbing headlines while Los Angeles quietly coalesced into a music community of even greater range and invention. Chief among the L.A. Punk crowd was X, a quartet of like-minded oddballs that began when bassist John Doe and guitarist Billy Zoom connected through the classifieds.
With the addition of vocalist/poetess Exene Cervenka (Doe's girlfriend/wife/ex-wife through the band's history) and drummer D.J. Bonebrake, X became one of SoCal's shining lights. Their 1980 debut, Los Angeles (produced by Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek), was an immediate underground sensation with its visceral and uncharacteristic spin on Country, Rockabilly and unadulterated Rock. X's long history produced several acclaimed albums; solo careers for Doe, Cervenka, guitarists Dave Alvin and Tony Gilkyson (who joined the band, however briefly); and a side project (the Country-flecked Knitters). After some hibernations and a break-up, X reunited for a few 1998 shows and tangentially remained together. The reunited foursome is reportedly playing with as much energy and pure abandon as their early days.
At the Hardcore end of the L.A. spectrum, no other band could match Black Flag for vitriolic anthems of alienation and angst. Formed in 1977 (like X), Black Flag rotated through several vocalists before hiring Henry Rollins, a D.C. Punk who came to define the band's intense personality until their break-up in 1987. For nearly 20 years, Rollins has compartmentalized his career with blistering recordings and tours by his first post-Black Flag band, Rollins Band, fascinating spoken word/stand up comedy ventures, writing and publishing books and (like X's Doe) forays into acting. Experiencing a Rollins Band show is like trying to street skate behind a rollercoaster. Combined with the X factor, this promises to be a show of unrelenting power and a mosh pit of unrestrained proportions. (BB)
Saturday · Crush (above Union Station Video Cafe)
Soul music connects the head and heart with the body. It's an interchangeable trinity that pleads blood and drips sweat and tears, surging the spirit until it shouts for joy. It timelessly chronicles every grown person's lament. People ask, "Who stole the Soul?" when even BET has to relegate "grown folk music" to its partner station, BET on Jazz, and when leaders of R&B's new school sell degenerate, soft porn fantasies that lend few thoughts about souls connecting through unrequited love. This is why it's such a treat to have songwriter and Soul balladeer Anthony David make a stop at Crush downtown. True, the intimate lounge setting barely contains 300 people comfortably, but each in attendance will have the chance to touch, taste, smell, hear and feel the spirit of Soul wafting throughout the room. Let the senses interchange and think of David as that guy you're glad you saw while he was on the rise "before he blew up."
The Savannah, Ga., native who's toured with Sade and India.Arie must've taken note from musicians like Donnie Hathaway and Bill Withers, who translated what stirred in souls of black folk filled with hope but choked with conflicting spirits. On 3 Chords and the Truth, David's down-to-earthness bears his soul yet shows he's no punk; in a genre of male singers who either get cast as sissies for showing their sensibilities or thugs for showing the least bit of rebellion, it's refreshing to say, "Let a man be a man." (Mildred Fallen)
Lions with The Virgins
Saturday · Preacher's
Ahhhh, Austin, Texas, I've heard good things about you. Besides having the country's premeire music festival in South By Southwest, you also seem to nurture a bastion of musical talent. This is exemplified by the outfit known as Lions who, if it's actually possible, sounds like Texas. The Texan air has to be the catalyst for the dry fuzz that eminates from both guitars as well as Matt Drenik's raspy, parched vocals, which dusts over each accent of sound. The image of the group parallels the sound, as the members look like a collective of vagabonds who might or might not pull a switchblade on you during a pool hustle. I'm cool with that, though, because sleaziness can only make for a more interesting evening.
The entourage formed in the summer of 2005 after Drenik's previous project, The Good Looks, disintegrated. Lions, though, has already released their debut record, cleverly titled Volume 1. It's a journey through tumbleweed and cacti marked by a run-in or two with the sound of Queens of the Stoneage. Each dirge is surrounded by myriad licks and electric aggression as the dynamic of the music quickly shifts from swift punches to the gut to a more sluggish, Sabbath-like feel. It's really quite delicious.
The small sampling of music I received from Lions foreshadows the group's inherent ability to command a venue, and I can only hope that the same enthusiasm I feel with what I'm listening to right now is transferred to Northside's small Preacher's club. (Kevin Warwick)