The sounds of the city: February/March Concerts

BY JEFF LEVEN

The musical cures to spring semester back-stretch boredom:

Feb. 23 — the Dictators (Axis) — Back in the heyday of the New York City punk scene, the Dictators were big, dumb leather-jacketed thugs that played sloppily even by punk standards. And if this wasn’t endearing enough, their songs were about as big, dumb, sloppy and earnest as their musicianship. Fronted by Handsome Dick Manitoba, a pro wrestler-turned-roadie-turned-rock-singer, they belted out such memorable tunes as “Teengenerate” and “I Live for Cars and Girls.” So if this reunion tour makes you feel like throwing on a muscle shirt, hotwiring a Trans Am, crushing a few beer cans on your head and taking a trip to Axis, I can’t say I’d blame you.

Feb. 25 — Gorillaz (Avalon) — The problem with being a concept band like Gorillaz is that comic books can’t tour. Or can they? Aside from being able to witness the live musical interactions of such heavyweights as Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club) and Damon Albarn (of Blur), sheer curiosity is ample reason to go to this one. Are they going to perform behind a screen with continuous animation? Are they going to wear big theme park outfits? Naw…only Primus had the guts to do that. But still… By the way, if you can’t sneak in a window for this undoubtedly sold out show, perhaps check out Cat Power at the Coolidge Corner Theater across town.

Feb. 26 — Rollins Band (Avalon) — Henry Rollins is big, scary, tattooed and angry. He likes to hear his own voice, and there is a camp of Black Flag fans that are convinced that he is the punk antichrist. But, lest we forget, he is also a truly original personality and one of the most committed performers of our age.

Feb. 28 — Bernie Worrell and the Woo Warriors (Harper’s Ferry) — One of the many alums of George Clinton’s Parli-ament/Funkadelic family, Wor-rell’s music moves beyond the old school into a full-on exploration of world rhythm in all its funky forms. Wacky, spontaneous and eminently enjoyable.

March 1 — Nelly Furtado (Avalon) — A bit of rap, a bit of folk and a bit of r&b make Furtado a distinctive voice in pop music in more ways than one. If you haven’t had “Turn Off the Light” stuck in your head at least once this year, perhaps now’s the time …

March 2 and 3 — CSNY (Fleet Center) — Yeah, it’s true that David Crosby certainly doesn’t get more handsome with age, but CSNY remains one of those classic rock bands whose shows still unabashedly deliver the goods — a bit of nostalgia, a bit of reflection and the songs that made them justifiably legendary. And, having the “Y” (Neil Young) on this particular tour certainly doesn’t hurt matters.

March 7 — Reverend Horton Heat (Paradise) — There isn’t much that’s cooler in rockabilly music than watching the Rev rip out tremelo-laden rumble chords while climbing atop his bass player’s string bass as he’s playing it. Although every album is more or less the same, and every song starts to blend, for an hour show it couldn’t be more perfect: it’s campy, it’s way too loud and it’s also a ton of fun.

March 14 — … And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead (TT the Bear’s) — AYWKUBTOTD has been riding a growing underground buzz for years now as their album Madonna mined Sonic Youth’s legacy with a jagged smile, and in a room the size of TT’s the sonic wash will undoubtedly be a thing of ferocious beauty.

March 15, 16 and 17 — the Dropkick Murphys (Avalon) — These booze-swilling, head-busting, guitar-hammering Southie Irish punks aren’t just Boston’s best local punk band, they are also an absolute St. Pattie’s Day tradition. From the first blast of the bagpipes this one’s going to be nothing but a swirling mosh pit, a few gallons of Guinness on your clothing and first-pumping shout choruses that you’ll wanna do for the entire T-ride back. For those less interested in the riot that will inevitably ensue, Ireland’s Saw Doctors are taking their fun-loving brand of Celtic party rock to the Roxy on the 16th and 17th.

March 21 — J Mascis and the Fog (TT the Bears) — If the Dictators, the Dropkick Murphys, the Trail of the Dead and Henry Rollins didn’t leave you deaf enough, Dinosaur Jr.’s grunge savant may be your last best chance. Hope he does his gloriously sludgy cover of the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.”

March 26 — Herbie Hancock (Avalon) — He played with Miles Davis, his band the Headhunters took jazz to new and funky heights, and he still refuses to look back. A true American original, Herbie Hancock is one of the most talented pianists of our time and well worth an evening of yours.

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