PATTY GRIFFIN, THE DEPOT, Monday, Oct. 20, 8 p.m., $25
Simply put, Patty Griffin is the kind of singer and songwriter who makes it easy; you don’t wonder if you should go to the show, you just do it and thank yourself later for the treat. The easy labels to attach to her sound–folk or Americana–don’t do justice to her talents, but they’ll suffice here. Her 2007 album Children Running Through is a brilliant set, helping earn her Artist of the Year and Best Album awards from the Americana Music Association, and four years later she took home a Grammy for Best Traditional Gospel Album for Downtown Church. Forget about genres, just as you should forget about whether you should rally and go out on a Monday. Just do it, and thank yourself in the morning. John Fullbright opens the show.
Talk about your epic nights at The Urban Lounge. Two headlining gigs in one evening, two acts totally different from the other, yet both easily worth checking out.
The night starts with Shonen Knife, the Japanese punk trio who are rumored to be on their final tour. They’ve been together for more than 30 years, evoking classic ’60s girl-pop, surf-rock and old-school punk in their sound. They had a little bit of mainstream success when alt-rock blew up in the early ’90s, but for the most part they’ve toiled away like most indie and punk crews, knocking out fine albums heard by frustratingly few people, and touring like crazy. Consider this chance to see them at a rare early show at Urban a must-see.
Later on, it’s the unforgettable Big Freedia, master of the so-called “bounce” music scene out of New Orleans. If you ever want to see where Miley ripped off her twerking moves, catch this host of his own Fuse TV show, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce. The show tracks his moves into mainstream culture and his hometown. I didn’t know much about Big Freedia until I saw him and his dancers perform earlier this year at a festival, and it’s a big, loud, bass-heavy, crazy scene that has to be seen to be believed. It’s also a total blast.
PLAN-B THEATRE COMPANY’S RADIO HOUR EPISODE 9: GRIMM, ROSE WAGNER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, Wednesday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m., $20
Among the myriad plays put on by Plan-B Theatre Company that I was able to see, the almost-annual Radio Hour productions always stood out. Obviously, these shows aren’t the typical play production as they are designed for the ear, not the eye. But watching the voice actors, musicians and foley artists do their thing is a blast. The voice actors contort their faces and their bodies, twisting and turning in their chairs as they inhabit their characters–it’s pretty remarkable to see; this year’s cast includes some Radio Hour vets like Bill Allred, Jay Perry, Teresa Sanderson and Jason Tatom, along with first-time Colleen Baum. Together, they will voice playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett’s adaptations of three Grimm tales: “Little Snow-White,” “Rapunzel” and “The Juniper Tree.” KUER will be broadcasting the show, but I highly recommend watching in person–it makes for an utterly different and fun theater experience.
THE LONE BELLOW, THE STATE ROOM, Monday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m., $22
The Lone Bellow’s self-titled debut came out nearly two years ago, and at first I thought the Brooklyn trio’s country-rock sound was a bit slick for my taste. Then I got to see Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist and Kanene Pipkin perform live, and my impression changed in a hurry. The vocal harmonies among the three are truly stunning, and the full scope of The Lone Bellow’s sound came into vibrant focus on stage, far better than on their album. Songs like “The One You Should’ve Let Go” and “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold” stick in your head for days after hearing them given the full live treatment, and the touches of gospel, soul and pop that infuse Williams’ songs really shine live. Anyone who went to the rainy Jason Isbell show at Red Butte Garden this summer saw The Lone Bellow brave a downpour and still deliver a killer set. Seeing them in a small club will be a fine way to spend a Monday night. Hugh Bob and the Hustle open the show.
NEW PORNOGRAPHERS, THE DEPOT, Friday, Oct. 10, 9 p.m., $26
Easily one of my favorite bands of the past decade, New Pornographers boasts a remarkable array of talents, led by primary songwriter A.C. Newman, who has a remarkable facility for writing insanely catchy pop-rock. He calls the band’s latest, Brill Bruisers, a “celebratory” collection that reflects on the happy places he is in his personal life. Joining him at the party are New Pornographers regulars Neko Case, Dan Bejar (aka Destroyer), Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Todd Fancey and Blaine Thurier. Now six albums in, I guess we can’t stop calling New Pornographers a side project to the members’ various solo careers and other projects, because this is a band that has developed into a power-pop machine unparalleled in modern rock. And their live shows take full advantage of the members’ unique gifts for harmonies. Consider this a must-see in SLC. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart opens the show.
FELICE BROTHERS, THE STATE ROOM, Thursday, Oct. 9, 8 p.m., $20
I can’t lie, the first thing that appealed to me about the Felice Brothers when I saw them do an in-store at Slowtrain a few years back was a song called “Whiskey in My Whiskey.” Not only did I have a natural affinity for the song’s sentiments, but the combination of old-timey instrumentation and vocal harmonies was instantly appealing. Accordions, guitars, fiddles, drums and piano fill out the New York band’s sound,which they forged playing in the subway stations of New York City after first performing at their dad’s regular Sunday barbecues in the Catskill Mountains. It’s been a couple years since Felice Brothers came through Utah, and their tour in support of new album Favorite Waitress brings them back for what should be a fine little hoedown on a Thursday night. Spirit Family Reunion opens the show.
WANDA SYKES, ABRAVANEL HALL, Saturday, Oct. 11, 8 p.m., $45-$55
Wanda Sykes has been making noise in comedy circles since she was part of an Emmy-winning team of writers for The Chris Rock Show in the late ’90s. Appearances on that show led to her own Comedy Central standup specials, acting jobs on shows like The New Adventures of Old Christine and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and a short-lived talk show. More recently she made a splash for coming out at a lesbian while campaigning against Prop 8 in California–leading a lot of new comedy fodder sure to be part of her show in Utah, home of the Mormon Church, which led the way on the anti-gay rights Prop 8 campaign.