’Member that shit-hot fall concert schedule I was talkin’ about? Well, it’s on, ’cause this week was preggers, big-time, and it was the openers who meant business.


Take the John Vanderslice bill at the Social Sept. 17, for example. Brooklyn’s Bishop Allen owned it. Their spry pop is exceptionally likable, but they don’t just coast on being cute like most of their peers. Though the music brims with sweetness, it aspires to much more. They’re capable of greater drama and deeper feeling than your average pop band.

Live, the snap and punch of their music was magnified. Besides being impeccably tuneful, they throbbed with passion, playing their instruments with the lust of a rock band. Moreover, they showed an impressive aptitude with live dynamics that resulted in a clarified sound. Definitely one of the finest emerging talents. Take note of them now.

Though several notches down in Fahrenheit from that display, John Vanderslice was good; he always is. Most notable was the way he and his band led the audience out of the club like pied pipers and played the final song on the sidewalk in front of Tabu. Nothin’ like rebellion indie-pop style – fuck yeah!

Interpol was also solid at Hard Rock Live Sept. 18, but Liars shone. With a compressed opening set in front of a mainstream crowd, you’d think the band would focus on its atypically straightforward new album. But no, not these merchants of unpredictability. They chose instead to unleash much of the brilliant-but-difficult material off the future-primitive Drum’s Not Dead. Nevertheless, in a robust, feral set that felt like a peyote sequence, they sounded incredible. In the end, it was good to see them demonstrate the primordial adventurousness they’re capable of, even if it baffled everyone else. Still, it would’ve been nice to hear more of that outstanding Jesus and Mary Chain–inspired stuff on the new record. Not hatin’, just sayin’.

Yet another boss opener was Dax Riggs at House of Blues Sept. 19. Though he perked ears with his promising but short-lived project Deadboy & the Elephantmen, he’s finally decided to abandon the group name. Hell, I would too if I had a cool-ass name like his. The music still mines that blues-punk vein, only with a more driving metal edge. Capable of rising like a roaring tornado, Riggs’ voice is one of the most distinctive ones in rock today – this show affirmed it.

Actually, headliners Queens of the Stone Age brought it as well. In tidal waves of big riffage, their self-consciously arty stoner rock managed both heaviness and agility.

Speaking of heavy, Burning Brides dropped some straight-up, nut-swelling rock at the Social Sept. 20. Damn, I love watching these guys play. With more beef than a Winn-Dixie, their live sound could fill an airplane hangar. If only their recordings could bottle that blitzkrieg.

Opening was Black Tide, the young Miami metal band formerly known as Radio. I’ve been tracking this group of freakishly talented teen rockers since 2005’s FMF and much has changed with them lately. There’s been a record deal with Interscope, a name change and, well, puberty.

It’s that last one that could’ve been the Dim Mak for them, though. Building a band around a supernatural voice is a no-brainer, but if that singer’s balls have yet to drop, it’s touch and go since they don’t really do the eunuch thing
a whole lot nowadays. So lead singer and youngest member Gabriel Garcia has adapted. This time around, he no longer scaled the spires of high-pitched splendor that he did pre–hormone infusion. Instead of suffering a disaster, though, they emerged sounding better, because the loss has been more than compensated by the evolution of every other factor in their equation. Their style is more mature and their guitar chops are notably more advanced, even occasionally bringing their metal to neo-classical heights.

And finally, the latest edition of my music showcase, The Bao Show, at Taste Sept. 21 went well (believe me, I’d be the first to tell you if it didn’t and why). Seeing so many of you step outside your normal orbits to show support made the night great and me – sniff, sniff – proud of our scene. The Anderson Gang sported an expanded lineup but the occasionally clumsy rhythm section definitely needs finessing. Still, their raw country spirit hit the right spots. Cracker Jackson was as sharp as he was LMAO-funny, his between-song banter as vital a part of his show as his geek-tastic rhymes. And The Attack was pure old-school punk glory.

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