This week yields plenty of stops from artists all across the board including the Tontons, Tame Impala, Pretty Lights, Barenaked Ladies and Minus the Bear. Keep reading for our critics' recommendations for the week, and as always, remember to peruse our concert calendar for more options.
Née Monday, October 7, 8:30 p.m. w/ The Tontons @ The Demo - $10 By Blair Stiles From the 2013 RFT Music Award nominations: Made up of eccentric dresser Kristen Dennis, synth/guitar/Native Sound magnet David Beeman and drummer Mic Boshans, Née fills the electro-glam void in St. Louis' dance circuit. Adorned in hip ensembles, Dennis commands her place at the head of Née with the cool exterior of a Brooklyn denizen. That big-city countenance and flamboyant vocalizations garner as many Merrill Beth Nisker (stage name: Peaches) comparisons as they do to put Née in a class all its own. Dennis shies away from Nisker's penchant for snicker-worthy imagery in favor of crafting danceable meditations with enough soul to bring the past back to life -- if only to dance with it for a night before waking up the next morning to brave the present.
Kid Congo Powers Tuesday, October 8, 8 p.m w/ Pink Monkey Birds, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion @ Old Rock House - $15/$18 By Jenn DeRose Kid Congo Powers first played in St. Louis with the Pink Monkey Birds at CBGB's in 2010, alongside Bob Reuter's Alley Ghost. There, Powers charmed those lucky enough to be in attendance with his enormous Cheshire grin and a growling rendition of the children's song "I Found a Peanut," a dark warning about the dangers of eating food off the ground. The band returned the following year to play Off Broadway, staggering covers of the Gun Club and the Cramps -- two of Powers' previous groups -- between his more recent compositions, which stood mightily alongside the classics. His current work with the Pink Monkey Birds bears significant traces of his pedigree, with languid, spooky psychedelic riffs and bouncing basslines that cause uncontrollable shaking of the lower extremities. The unusual combination of tremendous talent and a refusal to take themselves too seriously makes Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds one of the most consistently fun acts to catch live. The stars must be in unusual alignment, because this type of tour is a rare one -- two incredible acts that make sense together on one bill. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is raw and bloody, the perfect headliner for this show
Tame Impala Tuesday, October 8, 8 p.m. @ The Pageant - $25-$30 By Jaime Lees Tame Impala is the recording project of Australian dream pop super-genius Kevin Parker. Known for his work with Pond and Melody's Echo Chamber, Parker embraces his deeper psychedelic side when constructing Tame Impala songs. With critically acclaimed releases like Innerspeaker and last year's Lonerism (Modular Records), Parker has been exploring new territory. His new, heavier sound lands somewhere between the Flaming Lips and later era Beatles, including spacey laser zaps, thick harmonies and chugging blues riffs. On Tame Impala's breakthrough album, Lonerism, each song bleeds into the next and between layers of trippy atmospherics and interludes of clean, bright vocals. Parker also squeezes in bursts of shimmering blissed-out pop, producing mind-expanding extended grooves. Free your mind, man.
Roland Johnson Wednesday, October 9, 10 p.m. @ Beale on Broadway - free By RFT Staff The minute Roland Johnson walks onstage for his semi-regular gig at Beale on Broadway, you know you're seeing a performer. The man drips charisma; all the way through his white leisure suit and down to his polished shoes. He can do the James Brown, the Sam & Dave, the Bobby "Blue" Bland, the Otis Redding, and he does them all, no matter how familiar, no matter how many times he's sung them, like the joint is on fire and his lungs are filled with kerosene. He's a growler, a belter, but cool enough to keep his musicians, featuring veterans of the Mighty Big Band, from jamming off their charts. A lot of bands in St. Louis play the Stax/Volt and Motown hits. None drives them home like Roland Johnson and Co.
The James Hunter Six Thursday, October 10, 8 p.m. @ Old Rock House - $22/$25 By Roy Kasten Forget the stone-strolling rhythms, the fog-horning horns, the uncanny mono mix (courtesy of Daptone Records maestro Gabriel Roth), even the vigorous songwriting. Minute By Minute, the James Hunter Six's 2013 album, is defined by the voice of its leader. And that means it's defined by the loss Hunter has known, specifically the death of his wife Jacqueline in 2011 after an agonizing struggle against cancer. Hunter sounds like he has wept and howled a thousand nights, and he probably has, yet the ravages of his voice infuse even pre-soul juke-rockers like "Chicken Switch" with impossibly hard-earned power. May this music soothe his soul as much as it will yours. Opener Jesse Dee was barely off training wheels when the headliner released his first album, but Dee knows how to steer a classic R&B sound.