This Week in Live Music: Lil Jon, Andrew Bird, Arcade Fire, and More
We’re only one week away from Outside Lands week, but we wouldn’t classify this busy week as the quiet before the storm. Prepare for some noise.
There hasn’t been a more pleasant gem to emerge from Florida than Hundred Waters in, well, um, forever? Singer/flutist Nicole Miglis sings goddess-like hooks, while the band conjures the same dark soundscapes provided by the likes of Bjork and Fever Ray. The band’s sophomore release The Moon Rang Like a Bell has won plaudits from Pitchfork and others, and somehow, somewhere along the way, Hundred Waters ended up on Skrillex’s label, OWSLA. Another reminder that good music will always find a backer.
People have called Shabazz Palaces the future of hip-hop, which on paper seems odd given that Ishmael Butler has been in the business for 20-some years. It’s true that Butler and co-instigator Tendai Maraire have stumbled upon a sound that defies immediate recognition — where meter and syncopation and vocal delivery heed few rules. Whether a generation of rappers will follow suit is still up for debate, but if it means one less kid tries to be Soulja Boy, they’ve done their job.
Arcade Fire concerts are more religious experience than anything else at this point. Bask in the glorious chanting of “Wake Up,” channel the Haitian gods of “Reflektor,” take in “Afterlife” and look up into the stars for signs of your ancestors, read between the lines of “Neon Bible.” Few bands feel indebted to the larger picture like Arcade Fire, and their live gigs inevitably feature lead singer Win Butler’s intense gratitude while he forthrightly details the band’s ambitious vision for all of us. If that sounds like hyperbole, you’ve never seen an Arcade Fire show.
Will we ever turn down for “Turn Down For What?”? Of course we will. But that time is not now. The ubiquitous DJ Snake/Lil Jon collaboration has been played and heard millions — hell, probably billions of times (the music video has been viewed 89 MILLION times on YouTube, yikes). Lil Jon recently told Rolling Stone magazine "people just won't let the song go away, from little kids to grandmothers. I've even seen Vines of animals going crazy to it." Perhaps this is what aliens will hear first when they approach earth — I mean, if it’s an alien invasion situation, maybe a song about not ever “turning down/giving up” is EXACTLY what we want them to hear, right?
Give up predicting what world-renowned artist-at-large Andrew Bird will do next. Bird just released an album of Handsome Family cover songs with his backing band, Hands of Glory, and... lordy is it a revelation. It’s called (brilliantly) Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of... also a brave move by a known commodity in the neo-folk genre, to introduce his world of fans to the wondrous songwriting of Handsome Family. Bird remains one of the most fascinating live performers in the genre — he often manages to make his one-man shows into full-on symphonies, but with his backing band in tow for this tour, we can expect a more traditional arrangement. Ya know, just so he can take a hammer to our expectations.
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