This weekend is the much-anticipated release party(s) for Tower Groove Records' new Double LP, which showcases heaping piles of superb local talent -- thirteen RFT Music Award nominees populate the must-have local compilation. The festivities take place over the course of three days and three venues, moving from El Lenador to Off Broadway to Mangia, and is sure to be the social event(s) of the season.
Speaking of local talent, this Friday also marks the release of Fister's newest release. The loud-is-law stoner / doom metal band has been pouring their blood sweat and tears into this latest offering -- blood mostly, which the band recently had removed from their veins, collected in vials, and mixed in with the ink used for said album's liner notes. Don't believe me? Lick the liner notes then, Mr. Skeptic, and look for that copper-y taste. Don't say we didn't warn ya.
The rest of this week's picks follow, including visits from Deer Tick, Mariachi El Bronx, Madeleine Peyroux and more.
Joe Pug Mon., 9:00 p.m. May 14 @ Off Broadway - $14-$17 By Roy Kasten Joe Pug is not a hipster with a banjo, a smarty pants with a computer, a naïf with a fake British accent singing in a fake forest. What he is is a serious songwriter, in the line of Guthrie, Dylan and Van Zandt. His best songs are American jeremiads, composed with images both fiery and fragile, calling down simple truths on his country and himself. On this year's release, The Great Despiser, he tests those songs against different sounds ― E Street swagger, feedback stutter, waltzing country ― and searches for "a narrative that was ours." Song by exceptional song, he's finding it. Who Should Go: Anyone who believes, as Guthrie did and Pug surely does, that a songwriter's job is to "comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable."
Alejandro Escovedo Tue., 7:00 p.m. May 15 @ Off Broadway - $15-$18 By Jaime Lees Every Alejandro Escovedo show should be required viewing, but this one promises something extra special for fans of St. Louis music. The rock-roots legend's show will be supported by Jimmy Griffin, front man of the Incurables and guitarist for El Monstero. A formidable talent on his own, Griffin is also a frequent wingman to Escovedo and did time touring as a member of his band last year. He will open the show with an acoustic performance of Incurables songs, then Escovedo will play solo before being joined by Griffin and an all-star collection of local musicians featuring members of the Feed, the Funky Butt Brass Band and Dr. Zhivehas. After the Show: Escovedo and Griffin are hitting the road for a short solo tour (in a Lincoln) before Escovedo meets up with his band the Sensitive Boys.
Deer Tick Wed., 9:00 p.m. May 16 @ The Firebird - $16-$18 By Roy Kasten From this 2010 show review: In precisely appointed Village People attire, Deer Tick (and a couple of friends) took the stage to the karaoke of "Y.M.C.A.", a goofy, delightful entrance, and then jumped into an hour and a half of dirty, bluesy, bashing rock, with John McCauley's nasal twang sounding more sweet than metallic, and the whole band buzzed but not obliterated. The drunken chaos of a Deer Tick show is the essence of its appeal, but this night was just a little more focused than usual, skronking sax solos and skittish drumming aside. A hard, shuffling "These Old Shoes" from War Elephant and a gliding "Choir of Angels" from Black Dirt Sessions were highlights, as was a suite of covers, including John Prine's "Mexican Home," a funky take on the late Bobby Charles' "Down South in New Orleans" and a terrifically unironic "La Bamba." And "The Monster Mash," of course. And then up came the thump of "Macho Man," dancers reassembled, pranced off stage and disco-lined through the crowd, who gathered round and shook their beer-sprayed bodies to the silly wonderfulness of it all. That dance-floor party would have been tough to follow, and Deer Tick wisely didn't try.
Active Child Thurs., 8:30 p.m. May 17 w/ Balam Acab, Superhumanoids @ The Firebird - $12 By Diana Benanti From this 2010 show preview: Active Child, a.k.a. multi-instrumentalist Pat Grossi, is a former choir boy from Philadelphia. His parochial influences are blatant on his delightful first EP, 2010's Curtis Lane. (Lane is the second Active Child release this year; the first was a too-hip, limited-edition cassette, Sun Rooms.) Grossi's seraphic vox ooze over cavernous synthpop and beatific harp on "I'm in Your Church at Night" (told you he was a choir boy), while the haunting austerity of "Wilderness" showcases sonic depth. Grossi has spent the last few months on tour with Islands and School of Seven Bells, but he's doing a handful of headlining dates -- including this solo stop, his second St. Louis date in 2010.
Fister Record Release Fri., 7:00 p.m. May 18 w/ Everything Went Black, ((Thorlock)), Sine Nomine, Iron Hills @ Fubar - $8 By Kiernan Maletsky From 2011's Music Awards' write-up: Fresh off the release of its split twelve-inch with Lion's Daughter, Fister doesn't so much play music as bludgeon you with it. Its side of the split, titled And Their Masters Bled for Days, is a trudging trio of songs best played at ear-splitting volume while punching something. "Witchfucker," in particular, is a monolith of defiant bass and screaming guitar. "Santabbath" gets a reprise from the band's recent album, Bronsonic, which was originally released on cassette and later appeared online in an expanded Bronsonic -- Lethal Overdose Edition with a half-dozen demos from 2009.
Bonnie Raitt Fri., 8:00 p.m. May 18 @ The Pageant - $20 By Jamie Lees You want know what's some bullshit? Bonnie Raitt is totally under-appreciated and under-praised. Yes, people love her, and she's well-respected, and her shows are expensive and sold out, but she's playing the freakin' Pageant. She should be selling out venues ten times that size. Bonnie Raitt is an historically important badass, a hero of the slide guitar, a singer-songwriter, an intellectual and an activist. She's also a feminist icon because she kicks all the boys asses on guitar. Raitt should be worshiped in the same way as Prince or Bruce Springsteen. Show some goddamn respect. Update: This show has sold out. Next time she tours you can show some goddamn respect by getting yourself a ticket in advance.