BY JEFF LEVEN
So you’re living large on the firm for a week. Checked into the Rain Man suite, eyeing the mini-bar with that glint of menace in your eye. A few nights of mints on the pillow, posh meals, and a completely legitimate excuse to take your evenings off. So, in that spirit, we thought we’d give you a week full of musical ideas for the most popular major fly-out cities:
Lucky bums! You’ve come just in time for the CMJ Music Marathon 2002 — which means showcases at most clubs that count in the city Wednesday through Sunday.
Monday (10/28): Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, DMX, and Faith Evans (Beacon Theater) — Talk about a show that covers the spectrum from R&B to hip-hop, Motown to Bed-Stuy and most points in between. Aside from the fact that Stevie Wonder himself is a talent for the ages, seeing him alongside singers like Flack and Evans is a rare treat indeed. Expect some surprises in the set-list, particularly from the likes of DMX, who undoubtedly will find ways to keep from being the odd one out in this singers’ bill.
Tuesday (10/29): Bob Mould (Bowery Ballroom) — With Cobain and Nirvana getting a temporary glut of nostalgic celebration, some critics are bound to point out that the cavernous sonic wash that made Nevermind such a juggernaut owes a tremendous amount to the scabrous chords, bristling intensity and melting volume of Hüsker Dü. While the most recent album from former frontman and guitarist Bob Mould is not on par with his best work, seeing Mould remains a reminder that beneath the most kinetic of the Husker’s hardcore punk was songwriting so solid that the wall of sound had something substantial to sit on.
Wednesday (10/30): Soundtrack of our Lives (Roxy) — I have been waiting for the opportunity to wax fanatical about these guys for some time, and finally I get my chance. This band is amazing. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to know where to start. Rising from the ashes of the frenzied MC5 punk of Union Carbide Productions, Sweden’s Soundtrack of our Lives is, simply put, pure rock ambition that nearly always pays off. Ranging from Spiritualized-style psychedelia, Stones-style swagger-rock, SOOL isn’t out to build a catalogue — they’re out to build a canon. So far, so good.
Thursday (10/31): Too many choices — This is really, really tough. If you want to get your groove on, just go to the Hammerstein Ballroom and check out the amazing double-bill of DJ Spooky and Medeski, Martin & Wood. If you want to rock, go to Irving Plaza for the Ipecac Records showcase featuring bands like Calexico and NYC upstarts the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Or you could make an event out of it and see the Misfits at the world (ooh, spooky), Cypress Hill at Roseland or sneak through a window and see the Foo Fighters at the Supper Club. But, if you want something really deliciously weird, consider trying the Fantomas Melvins Big Band at the Roxy, featuring Mike Patton from Faith No More and the grunge legends the Melvins onstage together in what will certainly be a din of bizarre but clinically interesting noise.
Friday (11/1): This isn’t getting any easier. If you want to throw on some black pants and go clubbing, see Paul van Dyk at the Roxy, but if you want ethereal, eclectic, trancy beautiful Nordic music, see Sigur Ros at the Beacon Theater. If you don’t have too much of a headache from the night before just go see Murphy’s Law at the Continental.
Saturday (11/2): Chemical Brothers (Hammerstein Ballroom) — Back in the States with more block-rocking beats, take advantage of the rare opportunity to see them spin up close and personal.
Monday (10/28): The Cramps (Galaxy Theater) — The Cramps are the house band of Quentin Tarantino’s dreams, even if they were around first. Still trucking with over two decades of trash rockabilly camp, fear, loathing, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, the Cramps are a great way to start your week in la-la land in deliciously freaky fashion. Throw some pomade in your hair and a spit shine on your shoes and prepare to meet the fishnet throwbacks your mother always warned you about.
Tuesday (10/29): L.A. Guns (Key Club) — Hair metal is not dead in L.A. Hair metal will never die in L.A. Axl is fat and Tracey Guns is still scrawny, nasty and out for blood. Long may he shriek.
Wednesday (10/30): Keb Mo’ (Cerritos Center) — See, why don’t we get this sort of thing in Boston? Keb Mo’ is perhaps one of only a handful of people who perpetually produce what could even begin to be considered spectacular modern blues recordings and on this coast he’s nowhere to be found. Be sure to take this opportunity to see a modern master on his own turf.
Thursday (10/31): The Roots (House of Blues) — If you can’t or don’t want to sneak into the Stones at the Staples Center, make it a hip-hop Halloween with the traveling party, jam session and poetry slam that is the Roots. From their human beatbox ad-libs to their lyrical and mature rhymes, the Roots are among the chosen few hip hop acts that are absolutely and completely worthwhile live, and a great choice for the holiday.
Friday (11/1): One Man Army with U.S. Bombs (Roxy) — I can’t in good conscience send unsuspecting law students to the freewheeling gross-out fest that is the Dwarves at the Troubador, so instead get your punk fix at the Roxy (seems like every town has a Roxy these days) with two of the most durable punk outfits to follow in Tim Armstrong’s bootsteps.
Saturday (11/2): Saves the Day and Ash (Palace) — Two fantastic indie rock bands in one of LA’s more intimate venues, expect a few hours of tuneful fast-moving pop/grunge swirly guitar bliss.
Monday (10/28): Hothouse Flowers (Ram’s Head Tavern, Annapolis, MD) — Fusing traditional Irish music with a wealth of American influences, the Hothouse flowers are more than just Bono’s protégés. They are, like the ill-fated Pogues before them, a cult band with a wisp of legend about them and a tendency to be a bit hard to come by live. All the more reason, I guess, to see them now.
Tuesday (10/29): Future Bible Heroes (9:30 Club) — Featuring former Harvard student and indie rock auteur par excellence Stephen Merritt (the heart, brains, and magic behind the Magnetic Fields), the Future Bible Heroes are the newest incarnation of Merritt’s growing musical dynasty, with (thus far) each step every bit as impressive as the one before. Early opener Glo-worm is a bonus.
Wednesday (10/30): Flogging Molly and Andrew W.K. (Nation) — Flogging Molly is faux-Irish rock leaning towards punk. And Andrew W.K. is, as one critic noted, “Jock Jams on steroids”…. or Glenn Danzig’s peppy little party brother…or just howling theatrical steakhead mayhem. And certainly, a hell of a lot of fun.
Thursday (10/31): Blues Traveler (9:30 Club) — Yes, it has been a while since “Runaround,” but after the tragic loss of their original bassist and ensuing inevitable hiatus, Blues Traveler has returned leaner, meaner and more focused. Always good live, expect treats, covers and a heartfelt return this Halloween.
Friday (11/1): Rockin’ For the Kids (Lincoln Theater) — This benefit for the Children’s Hospital features a bill that is eclectic to say the least, featuring librarian-songstress Lisa Loeb (who I still contend is cuter than Britney, Christina or any of the other Mouseketeers), original bad girl Joan Jett, a
nd none other than (drum roll)… the mighty, the one, the only…..FOGHAT! Need I say more?
Saturday (11/2): Marshall Crenshaw (Avalon Theater, Annapolis, MD) — The fact that Crenshaw isn’t one of today’s most popular songwriters remains an unsolved crime. Like a reincarnated Buddy Holly, Crenshaw’s pop is note perfect — smart, sensitive, accessible and smooth as all get out. A great sense of humor and an endearing humility round out the package.