Live Music Picks: Sept. 13-19 | Music Picks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Live Music Picks: Sept. 13-19 

Murder By Death, Blue Oyster Cult, Chali 2na, and more

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click to enlarge Blue Oyster Cult - STEVE SCHENK
  • Steve Schenk
  • Blue Oyster Cult

Kansas, Blue Öyster Cult

When you're creeping up on 50 years of recording and performing, you'd like to think that your legacy is more than a catchphrase from a comedy sketch. But Blue Öyster Cult became synonymous with one of Saturday Night Live's most iconic moments, when a segment from an April 2000 episode—focused on the recording of the band's signature song, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," from 1976's Agents of Fortune album—turned into a rallying cry for "more cowbell" from a forgotten member played by Will Ferrell. To BÖC's credit, however, they appear to have embraced that recognition, as guitarist Eric Bloom—one of the two remaining original members, along with guitarist/vocalist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser—regularly pantomimes banging a cowbell during the song's opening riffs. Although the band hasn't released a new record since 2001's Curse of the Hidden Mirror, they remain stalwarts of the road, satisfying generations of fans who grew up with BÖC's unique blend of crunchy hard rock and lyrics invoking fantasy and horror elements, ranging from rampaging monsters ("Godzilla") to vampires ("Nosferatu") to a zombie version of Joan Crawford. For the band's visit at the Utah State Fair, they're actually the opening act for fellow '70s album-rock survivors Kansas, who similarly keep on trucking into their fifth decade with two remaining old-school members (drummer Phil Ehart and guitarist Rich Williams). Unlike Blue Öyster Cult, however, Kansas won't be urging their fans to "Cowbell On, Wayward Son." (Scott Renshaw) Utah State Fairpark Days of '47 Arena, 155 N. 1000 West, 7 p.m., $25-$45, all ages,

click to enlarge Houndmouth - CLAIRE MARIE VOGEL
  • Claire Marie Vogel
  • Houndmouth

Houndmouth, Family of the Year

Although they've been typecast for their indie and alternative leanings, in truth, Indiana band Houndmouth is difficult to categorize. Hailed by the press early in their career as a group to watch, Houndmouth's three albums—2013's From the Hills Below the City, 2015's Little Neon Limelight and the newly released Golden Age—have helped the band build a reliable reputation through word of mouth, frequent festival appearances and regular spots on the late-night talk-show circuit. While they've dabbled in blues, roots and Americana, Houndmouth's recent efforts find members Matt Myers, Zak Appleby and Shane Cody shedding their darker melodies in favor of a more accessible sound. Emphasizing solid rhythms, a determined dynamic and a cinematic approach, Houndmouth fits perfectly in the multi-faceted modern musical realm, while still playing with experimental elements. The band's expansive sonic sweep allows for immediate accessibility. Opening act Family of the Year are youthful contenders as well, spawning a genial male/female vocal dynamic and an uplifting attitude. The L.A.-based quartet boasts its own claim to fame: Their song "Hero" soundtracks Richard Linklater's critically acclaimed 2014 film Boyhood, which in turn took Family of the Year to the top of the international charts. If only we all had a family as functional as theirs. (Lee Zimmerman) The Commonwealth Room, 195 W. Commonwealth Ave., 9 p.m., $43, 21+,

click to enlarge Chali 2na - JORGE SEVILLA
  • Jorge Sevilla
  • Chali 2na

Utah Urban Arts Festival feat. Chali 2na and the House of Vibe, more

To truly know a Chicagoan, you have to know the colloquialisms they use. Everyone gets called one of two names—Joe or Charlie (pronounced Chali). Acting as a sort of "dude" or "guy," they're catchall phrases for people you aren't too familiar with. Like many native Chicagoans, Charles "Chali 2na" Stewart left the Windy City to forge a path of his own while still holding on to some of the conventions he grew up with. Only his story is way more exciting than that of your friend who moved to Utah from Chicago for Job Corps. Originally born in Chicago's infamous Ida B. Wells housing project, Chali moved to South Central Los Angeles as a kid, where his grandmother raised him in the Islamic faith. Chali fell in with a DJ named Cut Chemist and an MC named Mark 7even, who eventually went on to form the groups Rebels of Rhythm and Jurassic 5, which routinely won crowd favorite awards at Good Life Café's famous open mic nights. Chali's deep, bass-heavy pipes immediately drew attention, earning comparisons to Tone Lõc, Guru, Ladybug Mecca and Scarface. Always the guy on the posse cut that no one had to wonder about because his voice stood out so much, Chali 2na's content also ran deep, with compelling wordplay and a deep catalogue sure to resonate with everyone from underground hip-hop heads to casual rap fans. Chali co-founded activist salsa group Ozomatli and continues to perform with his band, House of Vibe. But he also describes himself as "a painter who can rap," making him a perfect fit for this year's Urban Arts Festival—Chali is even holding a live painting demonstration to go along with his performance. (Keith L. McDonald) Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main, Saturday noon–10 p.m.; Sunday noon–8 p.m.; free, all ages,

click to enlarge AFI - JIRO SCHNEIDER
  • Jiro Schneider
  • AFI

Rise Against, AFI, Anti Flag

Veganism and hardcore music go hand in hand. Although AFI lead singer Davey Havok wasn't the first to go public with his dietary discipline, he still made veganism "cool" in the eyes of America's youth (including me). Before the internet, this concept of a flesh-free, no-animal-by-product lifestyle was perplexing. But don't worry—this isn't a guilt piece. Instead, it's more of an examination of how musicians find their voice. After forming in Ukiah, Calif., in high school, AFI became a huge influence on the late '90s post-hardcore scene. However, it's fascinating to see how the band evolved from their very first 1993 EP, Dork, with then-guitarist Jade Puget, to their latest studio album AFI, also known as The Blood Album. As a wannabe musician, I have learned to love that "find yourself" phase bands go through. AFI found themselves after Puget replaced Mark Stopholese on keyboard and shit got dark (in a good way). Even though Puget wasn't a founding member of AFI, he still represents a huge pillar in the band's evolution. As I learned from City Weekly's awesome readers, saying Puget isn't a founding member is like saying "#CharlieDontTweet isn't an original member of the Rolling Stones." Puget and Havok wrote Black Sails in the Sunset, the album that defines AFI's essence, together. Now, they're still gracing us with their versatility in the studio and their ferocity on stage, where they've joined the second leg of Rise Against and Anti-Flag's Mourning In Amerika tour. (Rachelle Fernandez) The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, 6 p.m., $41.25 presale; $46.75 day of show, all ages,

click to enlarge Rodrigo y Gabriela - PETER NEILL
  • Peter Neill
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela

Rodrigo y Gabriela, Robert Ellis
Rodrigo y Gabriela burst onto the international scene in 2006, becoming an in-demand festival act seemingly overnight—though they had busked on the streets of their native Mexico and played covers in bars for years prior to their breakout. As a duo, Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero make instrumental music that sounds like it's rooted in traditional flamenco—they play duets on acoustic guitars, after all—but really draws more from classic hard rock and 1980s thrash metal. (It's no coincidence that Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and Metallica's "Orion" are setlist mainstays.) Quintero is the master of a percussive right-hand technique that holds down the full rhythm section, pounding on the body of her guitar to mimic a kick drum while her elastic-looking wrist moves in a blur. On the other hand, Sánchez plays more or less traditional lead guitar, impressively shredding his acoustic like a speed-metal demon (we're talking Kirk Hammett on nylon strings). Again, the band's hardcore influences are out on the table, but the music takes on a different character when it's played acoustically. Minus the buzzsaw distortion of electric guitar and aggressive metal vocals, the music is far more palatable for the masses—pretty, even. Most of all, Rodrigo y Gabriela perform with a fun, open-hearted energy that encourages audience engagement. Wear yourself out by stomping or clapping in time with the heavy breakdowns, or just sit back and marvel at the duo's technical wizardry. (Howard Hardee) Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre, 2155 Red Butte Canyon Road, 7 p.m., $46-$51, all ages,

click to enlarge Murder By Death - TALL JAMES PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Tall James Photography
  • Murder By Death

Murder by Death, William Elliott Whitmore

When the ominously named Murder by Death and special guest William Elliott Whitmore share a stage, they bring a common sensibility, one taut with gothic imagery and a dark Southern sound. Spawned from archival origins and reshaped by modern mores, Murder by Death recently released their eighth album in a career spanning nearly 20 years. Originally based in Indiana before moving to Louisville, Ky., and borrowing their morbid name from a Robert Moore film, Murder by Death retool their template on The Other Shore, a concept album about the end days and a population in peril. Despite such apocalyptic fare, Murder by Death clearly has a long life ahead of them. Whitmore's latest, Kilonova, is equally auspicious as a set of songs written by others—Bad Religion, Captain Beefheart and Bill Withers, among them—but conveyed with a somber austerity that recalls the moss-draped surroundings of William Faulkner, Harper Lee and Flannery O'Connor. Whitmore's combination of folk, blues and Americana reflects the rural environs where he resides, on the same working Iowa farm where he was raised. Consequently, these two acts complement each other, even with their frayed edges and taut sonic trappings. Murder by Death and William Elliott Whitmore traffic in the sound of intrigue, circumspection and dark insight—perhaps a reflection of the unsettled circumstances that loom large over all of us. (Lee Zimmerman) Metro Music Hall, 615 W. 100 South, 8 p.m., $20 presale; $25 day of show, 21+,

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Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman

An accomplished writer, blogger and reviewer, Zimmerman contributes to several local and national publications, including No Depression, Paste, Relix and Goldmine. The music obsessive says he owns too many albums to count and numerous instruments he’s yet to learn.

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