Live: Music Picks Dec. 3-9 

El Ten Eleven, Nikki Lane, Soulfly and more

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THURSDAY DEC. 3
Wayne "The Train" Hancock

Two of the first promo CDs I received as a music journalist were Wayne "The Train" Hancock's That's What Daddy Wants and Thunderstorms and Neon Signs. They were also the first country albums I ever owned, not counting a Restless Heart album I bought because of a girl. I wasn't even into country at the time. In fact, I was still somewhat twang-averse; I found guys like Hancock and their reedy, nasal vocals—and nonsense lyrics like "hoy, hoy, hoy"—supremely goofy. I almost gave the CDs away, but since I'd been listening to country-lovin' bands like Southern Culture on the Skids, I decided to give 'em a shot. Turns out I'd grown up enough to get over myself and pay attention. I gained an appreciation for twang in a variety of forms, like bent Telecaster strings, and the sound of metal or glass sliding along taut high-set pedal steel strings. And Hancock's voice no longer sounded silly. I wanted to hang out at the same bars, drive the same cars, sweet-talk the same sweet girls—and, when I hit a dry spell with the latter, sing the "Milk Cow Blues." What's more, I wanted to travel back in time to when country was cool for the first time. Hancock's show is about as close as I'll get—which is pretty damned close. Ghostowne opens. (RH) The State Room, 638 S. State, 8 p.m., $31, TheStateRoomSLC.com

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THURSDAY DEC. 3
El Ten Eleven
There is synthetic music, and then there is synthetic music. Instead of using things like looping and effects with vocals as a metaphor about the "synthetic human," Los Angeles experimental post-rock band El Ten Eleven is solely instrumental, making a statement about the synthetic nature of music itself. While a post-rock band like Trans Am continually recontextualizes itself in reference to "rock" as well as other genres, El Ten Eleven is more purely musical. Their latest release, Fast Forward (Fake Record) charts a synthetic geography of loss and remembrance. (BS) Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m., $13 in advance, $15 day of show, TheUrbanLoungeSLC.com

FRIDAY DEC. 4
Health, Pictureplane

LA noise techno band Health first gained wider notice when their song "Crimewave" was remixed by Crystal Castles in 2007, but they made a much bigger leap when they opened for Nine Inch Nails the next year. Their mixture of caustic, at times frenetic dissonance with a melodic flair is an ingenious, even subtle combination. Their newest album, Death Magic (Loma Vista), finds the band delving even deeper into its pop melodicism while eschewing the jarring elements that drew the NiN comparisons. Darkwave producer/singer Travis Egedy, better known as Pictureplane, opens; he's one of the originators of the witch house dance music subgenre. (BS) The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, 8 p.m., $12, TheComplexSLC.com

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SATURDAY DEC. 5
Nikki Lane, Clear Plastic Plates

So all that stuff I just said about learning to love country music? I forgot to mention songwriting. Some of the best songwriters ever have had at least a toe in country territory. Nikki Lane has both feet in the genre, and her songs are both lucid and gauzy, sublime, beer-goggly dreams you don't want to end, even when they're a little sad. She has a bit of a rockin' side, too, which is probably why she recently toured with Social Distortion, and definitely why her shows are so darn fun. And since she's easy on the eyes and often wears very sexy—sometimes sheer—outfits, I probably would've come around to country a lot sooner. Alas, I had only the Mandrell sisters and their stupid chastity gowns. But mmm ... Irlene. (RH) Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, 7 p.m., $13 in advance, $15 day of show, KilbyCourt.com

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TUESDAY DEC. 8
Soulfly, Hooga, Crisis In Consciousness, Arsenic Addiction
Soulfly is the brainchild of Max Cavalera, former frontman of Brazilian thrashers Sepultura, which he co-founded in 1984 with brother Igor. After leaving Sepultura in 1996, Cavalera went on to form Soulfly. Intentionally using different lineups with each album, Cavalera created a unique sound by fusing metal with ethnic and tribal music. Lyrical themes range from spiritual to sociopolitical, shaped by Cavalera's experiences growing up in Third-World poverty to the current horrors of the modern world. Soulfly is currently touring behind their 10th release, Archangel (Nuclear Blast Entertainment). This latest offering is a streamlined collection of heavy-as-hell groove metal mixed with elements of thrash and death. Soulfly continues their trademark of adding touches of world music to the mix. The very capable musicians in the band (including Cavalera's son, Zyon, on drums), help Soulfly stand above the legions of mediocre aggro-metal outfits. Opening are local bands Hooga, who add their own Brazilian flair; melodic thrashers Crisis In Consciousness; and epic goth-metallers Arsenic Addiction. (MH) The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, 7 p.m., $20 in advance, $25 day of show, TheComplexSLC.com

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TUESDAY DEC. 8
The English Beat

Even without former partner Ranking Roger, who fronts the UK version of this band (known by their original tag, The Beat), Dave Wakeling and company still make a skank-worthy racket. Recent set lists feature the requisite hits like "Mirror in the Bathroom" and "Save It for Later" as well as General Public's "Tenderness" and well-known covers like Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown" and the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There." Expect to hear some new stuff, too: The band recently raised 144 percent of their goal on PledgeMusic.com, which says we're just under two months from seeing a new album, Here We Go Love. Get out your checkerboard pants or jacket, 'cause this one's gonna be a two-tone riot. (Randy Harward) The State Room, 638 S. State, 8 p.m., $31, TheStateRoomSLC.com

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TUESDAY DEC. 8
The Wombats

Headlining this year's ALT 101.9 FM Festivus is this two-thirds Liverpudlian, one-third Norwegian indie rock trio. On their third full-length, Glitterbug (14th Floor/Bright Antenna), they merge the danceable '80s-minded mainstream indie rock of bands like Walk the Moon with the introspective indie rock of Death Cab for Cutie, and even hints of the '90s alternative rock purveyed by Hum and bright-but-wistful Britpop a la Starsailor. It's an incredibly satisfying listen, and probably more so live, where you'll likely be swept up by big hooks, sing/shout-along choruses and moody rhythms. (Randy Harward) The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 9 p.m., $12 in advance, $15 day of show, TheUrbanLoungeSLC.com

WEDNESDAY DEC. 9
Graveyard, Earthless

Upon first hearing the Swedish band called Graveyard, you might think they are death metal—after all, that genre is associated with Scandinavian rock, and the band is on the Nuclear Blast label. Guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson's voice is, however, reminiscent of the tender and vulnerable yet earthy and tough singing of the late, great Jeff Buckley. The band also takes the post-Hendrix blues-rock guitar idiom into lovely places. Their latest, Innocence and Decadence (Nuclear Blast) is full of change-ups and stylistic flourishes. San Diego instrumental psych band Earthless breaks ground for a show that promises to provide its share of ecstatic improvisational release. (BS) In the Venue, 579 W. 200 South, 8 p.m., $15 in advance, $20 day of show, InTheVenueSLC.com

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