Live Music Picks: January 25-31 | Music Picks | Salt Lake City Weekly

Live Music Picks: January 25-31 

Blackkiss, Chali 2na, Avatar, ZZ Ward and more.

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  • Raphaela Raggam

Blackkiss (album release), Wild the Coyote & Badd Wolf, The Sober Junkie
It seems ironic that Pete Sands grew up on a Navajo reservation and wound up inspired by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, Loretta Lynn and Frank Sinatra. Maybe it's paradoxical that he latched on to the white man's music, but it's also poetic and just, considering we stole Native Americans' land. It's also incredibly cool, since Sands comes by his influences through his grandmother's record collection, and his songs are so damned good. They dwell in the dark side of country on The Fire Sessions, Vol. I (, the first of a planned double-disc project being released Friday, Jan. 26—and have a dust, grain, lyrical darkness and mystery that conjure a vibe similar to that of Jim Jarmusch's black-and-white postmodern western Dead Man. This is complemented by a sensitivity essential to any singer-songwriter, regardless of genre, that makes Sands' songs compelling listens—and have earned him opening slots with acts like The White Buffalo and Whitey Morgan & the 78s, as well as invites from Yelawolf to perform at the yee-haw rapper's Slumfest. Joining Sands are Los Angeles blues-rap duo Wild the Coyote & Badd Wolf, and Las Vegas singer-songwriter The Sober Junkie. The State Room, 638 S. State, 9 p.m., $10, 21+,

  • James Kapner

Chali 2na & House of Vibe
It was jacked up how a giant Doritos Jacked vending machine towered over Austin's 6th Street during South-by-Southwest 2012. As I wrote in my wrap-up for Blurt at that time, "It was more than a little vulgar, with partygoers dumping giant quarters into the machine in hopes of winning a prize (usually a bag of the new product) and doing so for the Doritos cameras." I squirmed as the contraption's digital display scrolled Rick-rolls and marketing copy meant to make snacks seem as crucial and relevant as the music, and ostensible street-teamers festered to document us enjoying the new chips. When it became apparent that the "stage" Chali 2na and his band House of Vibe would perform on was where the machine dispensed product, I went apoplectic. Yeah, corporations muscling in on music events is nothing new, but the placement of the stage equated the artists to empty-calorie junk food. However, 2na—of hip-hop legends Jurassic 5—"crushed it like a bag of free chips," I continued, with rhymes about freedom, revolution and graffiti, a J5 classic ("Quality Control") and a smokin' version of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" with keyboardist Anthony Brewster on vocals. It was a testament to 2na's—and HoV's—talent that their set (mostly) covered the conceptual deuce Doritos dropped in the middle of the festival. Six years later, when trap passes for rap, 2na's still serving up nourishing Omega-3s for the mind and soul. The Cabin, 825 Main, Park City, 10 p.m., $20, 21+,

  • Johan Carlén

Avatar, The Brains, Hellzapoppin' Circus Sideshow
A rock show should be about the music. But theatrics—provided the songwriting and musicianship are solid—elevate concerts to pure, unforgettable spectacles. Swedish quintet Avatar have refined their sound and show over the past 16 years, starting at melodic death metal and ending with what they call avant-garde metal, adding live eye candy (makeup, costumes) as needed until they arrived in what they call, on their seventh album, Avatar Country (eOne). The music isn't so much avant-garde as it is a potpourri of metallic genres—extreme, death, Viking/symphonic, classic '80s—where, as they point out in their sublimely hyperbolic bio, the guitar is king (and every song has "king" in the title). As opposed to the band's earlier screechier work, it's a more accessible sound, where the songs are catchier, the lyrics are easier to discern and the guitars get to do more than chug, growl and squeal. It recalls fellow Swedes Ghost, but in place of faux-religious pageantry, Avatar cops a circus vibe. Accordingly, they've recruited the Hellzapoppin' Circus Sideshow and its various danger-lovin' freaks and geeks to open the show on their Avatar Country tour. Sandwiched between Avatar and Hellzapoppin'—and making this a full-on three-ring event—is The Brains. Not to be confused with the early-'80s "fake new wave" (as Chuck Eddy called them) band whose self-titled album is a lust-worthy and expensive collectible, this is the awesome psychobilly band out of Montreal. The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, 6:30 p.m., $19.50 presale; $25 day of show, all ages,

  • Gus Black

ZZ Ward, Billy Raffoul
ZZ Ward's stage name isn't a reference to Texan boogie-rockers ZZ Top, but rather a truncation of her given name, Zsuszsanna. And her sound—which is often called blues-rock—isn't that, either. The genre is generally understood to be a grittier, roots-on-sleeve form of rock 'n' roll, but what Ward does is merely blues-rock influenced pop. That's not to say the influence isn't strong—she sang an Albert King track at her first gig, once recorded a Son House cover and attracted Gary Clark Jr. to perform on a track from her new album, Storm. You can hear it in her voice and her guitar playing, too—but you'd probably hear it better if it wasn't drowned in heavy-handed production and copious co-writers, which is a sure sign that Hollywood Records wants Ward to be palatable to a lowest-common-denominator audience. Consequently, her music is exfoliated to the point that calling it blues-rock is woefully inaccurate. But it's still much better than most of today's plastic pop. If only Ward would go indie and make the album she's capable of making. (Randy Harward) The Depot, 400 W. South Temple, Jan. 30, 7 p.m. (doors), $25 presale; $27 day of show, 21+,

  • Jeremy Devine

Nods Presents: City of DIS, feat. The Nods, Mutie, 22A, Sotanos, Hyrkanian, Deborah Downer
If you happened to hit the Survivor Series V: Endless Waltz show in November, you saw most of the bands on this bill—but probably not doing their usual sets, since that show pitted them against each other and other bands in the local music equivalent of Bartertown's Thunderdome. And certainly not with esteemed local garage-rockers The Nods headlining over a bill of loud-as-fuck punk and metal bands. So, look forward to a full-on aural assault from bands cheekily described on Facebook as "mutant punk/baby's first punk show" (Mutie), "hardcore American style" (22A), "aka no mames güey" (Sotanos), "crossover thrashcore" (Hyrkanian) and "downer violence" (Deborah Downer). You can sample most of the acts' musical wares at the City of DIS Bandcamp page ( and The Nods' kickass 2015 debut LP [Ariadne's Thread] and eponymous "Chromatic Recollection"/ "Public Eye" single for Scotch label Hail Atlantis at their own BC page ( Or just show up with earplugs and hope for—nay, expect—the best, 'cause The Nods don't fuck around. And they're serious about promoting local music. This is the first show of a monthly residency highlighting newer local acts. Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 8 p.m., free, 21+,

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