This Week in Live Music: tUnE-yArDs, Lady Gaga, The Faint, and More
Put some aloe on those sunburns from Bottle Rock Music Festival and rally. This week’s local live music slate involves some serious gems:
Two decades have passed since bandmembers from The Faint started a band called Norman Bailer with provocateur-of-a-generation Conor Oberst. Twenty years later, the disenchanted political leanings shared by Oberst and The Faint lead singer Todd Fink still underwrite the band's ideological thrust, but let’s not forget what’s important to Fink and less important to Oberst — the dancing (aka danse to Faint aficionados). The band’s recent release Doom Abuse proclaims anti-establishment sentiments routinely, and convinces us to nod with (unfairly!) fun electropop dance hooks.
This week, Lady Gaga’s ArtRave: The Artpop Ball makes a stop in San Jose, where the Mother Monster will strut, sashay, and otherwise cavort on multiple platforms of an elevated Lucite stage (despite canceling the North American leg of her previous Born This Way tour due to a major hip injury). The unconfirmed set list includes “Applause” from her most recent album, Artpop, as well as such hit tracks as “Bad Romance” and “Poker Face.” Sadly, “Paparazzi” is MIA, putting the program just on the edge of glory. - Leilani Marie Labong
When The New Yorker calls you one of America’s “very best singer-songwriters,” that means something. I don’t know if I’m prepared to go that far, but there is a hint of Neko Case at play in Dar Williams’ brand of alt-Americana wonderment.
White Panda has shared the stage with world music powers such as MGMT, Steve Aoki, Benny Benassi, and Tiësto, a pretty incredible achievement for boyhood friends from Chicago who only started five years ago. The group hasn’t yet hit the mainstream, but the way the biz progresses today, we wouldn’t be surprised if The White Panda gets a big break sometime soon. The Ruby Skye gig bodes well.
Nikki Nack. Album of the Year. Book it now. Merrill Garbus’ inspired third album is naturally, organically, metaphysically, and spiritually familiar, yet also distant; her vocal musings and manic percussion seemingly descended from some Pandora-like world (yes that’s an Avatar reference). The song “Time of Dark” is particularly alien-majestic, an amalgamation of drone synths, Haitian drum patterns, and ominous, ethereal sounds. This album must be explored, and if you’re lucky enough to grab a ticket, prepare for sensory satisfaction, if her previous shows on this tour are any indication:
It’s hard not to hear Florence and the Machine in the mammoth sound of the Jezabels. Lead singer Hayley Mary somehow sings over already-loud arena rock instrumentals, and the result is profound sound. Earlier this year, the band followed up its riveting 2011 album Prisoner with a more straightforward but still heartstring-pulling album The Brink. This time around, we really get to know Mary, as she reveals more of her personal travails and dramatic moments.
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