Buzz Under the Stars
If you told me a year ago that a guy who does what amounts to a Sting impression would be slaying the Billboard charts in 2012, I'd have told you to go take a walk in Fields of Gold. Or, no, I would have lost my faith in you. But here we are, and there's Gotye, with his lush, flowing, Australian hair and his ubiquitous, trend-defying hit, "Somebody That I Used to Know." Whether Gotye (real name: Wally De Backer) has any more plucky, soft-bounce hits in his dilly bag remains to be seen, but right now he's a hot enough commodity to headline this 96.5 the Buzz festival, which is rounded out by Chairlift (hooky electronic pop) and Zammuto (a new project from the Books' Nick Zammuto).
Friday, September 14, Crossroads KC at Grinders, 417 E. 18th St., 816-472-5454
Swans, with Xiu Xiu
It will take you two full hours to experience The Seer, Swans' latest album and the second since frontman Michael Gira rebooted the group in 2010 after a 13-year hiatus. The Seer is about as colossal as rock music gets, although to my ears it sounds just as much like a symphony — albeit the heaviest, darkest, noisiest, most physical symphony ever conceived. (The group is notorious for brutal volumes at its live shows, so bring the earplugs.) The more electronically inclined opener Xiu Xiu shares with Swans a menacing darkness and a penchant for confrontation. Sample lyric: I am going to cut open your forehead with a roofing shingle.
Wednesday, September 19, at the Beaumont Club (4050 Pennsylvania, 816-561-2560)
Is it socially irresponsible to recommend that people attend an Odd Future show? I kind of think maybe. But it's complicated. The L.A. collective of shithead juvenile delinquents rap about raping people and say "faggot" every other word. But many members of the crew are astonishingly good at rapping, and their performances have an explosive quality (see Tyler, the Creator and Hodgy Beats doing "Sandwitches" on Jimmy Fallon) that you simply don't find in other hip-hop acts going right now. Millennials — what are we supposed to do with them?
Wednesday, September 19, at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
Slim Cessna's Auto Club
When I think of Davey's Uptown, I think of country-tinged bar bands like Slim Cessna's Auto Club, and it warms my soul. And a Ramblers Club seems like a fine match for an Auto Club, yes? Slim Cessna and the musical mechanics in his Denver band tinker around with punk, rockabilly and gothic country — not to mention God, guns, girls and guitars — and cruise out into the night on a high-energy, deeply weird style of Americana. With Matt Woods, and Adam Lee & the Dead Horse Sound Company.
Thursday, September 13, at Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club (3402 Main, 816-753-1909)
Wild Nothing, with DIIV
We're in the midst of a golden age for guitar-pop mood music. Bands like Real Estate, the War on Drugs, and Deerhunter keep cranking out gorgeous, pillowy, reverb-soaked albums. And some excellent new groups are coming up through the ranks, making variations of those hazy-sunset soundtracks. Among the cream of this new crop are Wild Nothing (which sounds like a dreamier Smiths) and DIIV, a Brooklyn act keen on finding steady grooves from which to launch its soaring, shimmering guitar solos.
Thursday, September 13, at the Jackpot Music Hall (943 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-832-1085)