Hearts of Darkness, with the Good Foot
A couple of Sundays back, Hearts of Darkness took home the 2012 Pitch Music Award for Best Live Act, an outcome that came as a surprise to roughly nobody. Despite playing around town on a regular basis, the local funk-Afrobeat crew almost always draws large, eager crowds. There's a lesson here for bands: If you want people to come out to your shows, it helps if you play music they can dance to. The Motown revivalists in the Good Foot are not unaware of that fact, making them ideal openers for this record-release show, which celebrates HOD's latest LP, Shelf Life.
Saturday, August 25, at Knuckleheads Saloon
(2715 Rochester, 816-483-1456)
Thee Water MoccaSins, with Olivetti Letter and Be/Non
Thee Water MoccaSins singer and guitarist Billy Smith is living out in New York City (and on tour as a crew member with such acts as Slash and Smashing Pumpkins), so the electro-psych-rock band can get together for shows only every so often. This Riot Room gig is one such affair. The MoccaSins are joined here by fellow psych dudes Be/Non and by Olivetti Letter, a new-ish local outfit that adorns its dark-toned indie rock with pretty-lady vocals. (I recommend starting with the excellent "Waiting," which you can find on the band's SoundCloud page.)
Thursday, August 23, at Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
Diverse Plays Michael Jackson
"I can honestly say it's my favorite show to play," says bandleader and trumpeter Hermon Mehari of his band Diverse's annual tribute to Michael Jackson. The concept enters its third year Friday at RecordBar and features an array of special guests, including members of the Good Foot and Hearts of Darkness, Anthony Saunders, Lee Langston and Reach. Crossing my fingers for an "Off the Wall" or maybe — long shot — "Stranger in Moscow."
Friday, August 24, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
Pretty Lights, with Araabmuzik and Paul Basic
Derek Vincent Smith, aka Pretty Lights, receives slightly less shine than electronica contemporaries Bassnectar and Girl Talk, but I am sensing that might be changing as a result of his hitting the festival circuit pretty hard the last year or so. Pretty Lights' sound is a mingling of deep bass drops with funk, soul and hip-hop samples. Befitting its name, the mash-ups are enhanced by sensory-overload stage visuals: LED panels, light cubes, lasers, the whole deal.
Thursday, August 23, at the Midland (1228 Main, 816-283-9921)
One of the more fascinating aspects of hip-hop's evolution in recent years is the way it has absorbed, and been absorbed by, a subculture previously defined by indie-rock music. You can see this osmosis in effect with a character like Chicago's ShowYouSuck, who, like this show's openers Greg Enemy and Ebony Tusks, is comfortable in plaid clothing and jean jackets. (And not baggy jean jackets like Dr. Dre would wear in a Dr Pepper commercial; I mean the type of form-fitting, smartly aged kind worn by people who hang out at the Replay.) Aesthetically, ShowYouSuck values fashion and humor — a recent mixtape is titled One Man Pizza Party 2: Mo Slices Mo Problems — over street cred and boasts, and fans of Das Racist ought to find his clever party-rap endearing.
Friday, August 24, at the Replay Lounge (946 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-7676)
Moody electro-pop group the Knife is the most obvious touchstone for Shrines, the recently released debut LP from Canadian duo Purity Ring; both acts assemble their sound with ethereal female vocals, glassy synths and throbbing robotic bass lines. Add Purity Ring's inventive and infectious use of hip-hop beats, and you've got the kind of genre-bending that's irresistible to music critics — including this one.
Monday, August 27, at Jackpot Music Hall (943 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-832-1085)
I love a wild garage-rock show, but I also find that the bands too often are one-trick ponies, bogged down in the same old stomps, the same old jangly chord progressions. This is why I'm big on Kyle Thomas, the one-man band known as King Tuff. Tuff's songs are raw and scuzzy but also concerned with more outside-the-garage notions like melody and pop sensibility — in particular, the glammy power-pop vibes of the late 1970s.
Sunday, August 26, at the Replay Lounge (946 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-7676)