Art-A-Whirl and a Whole Lot More in Your Complete Concert Calendar: May 16-22
Pretty much all the live music you can see this week.
9:00 AM CDT on May 16, 2023
Art-A-Whirl is this weekend, which means the Northeast will be veritably crawling with musicians. I've rounded up as many of the scheduled performances I can find, but I'm sure I've missed a few. You can check out the complete calendar of Art-A-Whirl activities here, and we'll have lots of coverage in this weekend's Freeloader Friday.
Tuesday, May 16
- GBH with MDC and Niis @ Turf Club—Punk's not dead—or at least these punks aren't. Good to see that Grievous Bodily Harm and Millions of Dead Cops for still playing clubs after all these years. Nils, incidentally, are an L.A. band, not the Montreal punks or, of course, the Springsteen associate.
Wednesday, May 17
- MUNA with Nova Twins @ Palace Theatre—On Muna’s third and self-titled album, Katie Gavin has gotten almost too good at songwriting. With an assist from the band’s new label boss Phoebe Bridgers (who’d never go so cheerily pop), there’s something sleekly advertorial (or maybe just TikTok-able) about the tactile ecstasy of “Silk Chiffon” that gives my sugar rush an aspartame aftertaste. Not that that stops me from coming back for another hit, or appreciating how elsewhere on Muna the band makes so much more of ye olde galloping synth bass than most new-wave fetishists. I’m charmed by the irrepressible but modest demands of “What I Want” (“I want to dance in the middle of a gay bar”), the prudent infatuation of “Solid” (“You can tell she made herself all by herself”), and this riposte to a lover who tells Gavin to get off her high horse: “I think my horse is regular size.” Most of all, I appreciate how Gavin’s expression of her desires don’t slot easily into her contemporaries’ favored personae. There’s a wide expanse between doomed yearning sobs and legs-wide-open hedonism, and plenty of room for one young adult’s coming of age stories.
- Shania Twain @ Xcel Energy Center—She’s goofin’ on Ryan Reynolds during the People’s Choice Awards in December. She’s duetting with Orville Peck on “Legends Never Die.” Yes, the Shaniassance is in full swing. Hot on the sparkly rhinestone-heels of her first full-length in six years, the Canadian country star is set to embark on the absolutely massive “Queen of Me” tour, which takes her to 49 cities around the globe between April and November. If you haven’t listened to Twain’s latest yet, it’s mostly just OK! This review from Slate, which frames her return, “There would be no Taylor Swift without Shania Twain. Who is Shania Twain after Taylor Swift?” mostly nails my feelings on it. But you don’t need to know the new record front-to-back—or, hell, do any homework reading—to know that when she sings the stuff off of Come on Over, that place is going to go wild.
Thursday, May 18
- Cursive with Neva Dinova @ Fine Line—So look, I’m a big fan of Cursive, but I’m also a big fan of rock critic Robert Christgau and his effortless, cutting shittalking. Thus, I must share Christgau’s one-sentence review of Domestica, Cursive’s blistering, agonizing 2000 album about divorce that’ll be performed front-to-back at Fine Line: “Guitar rageboy marries too young, gets concept album out of it.” Perfection. The rageboy in question is Tim Kasher, who has led this celebrated Omaha emo institution since 1995, always making time for side projects (The Good Life, solo) yet never relenting with the flagship. Domestica, a fan favorite, wasn’t an easy listen almost a quarter-century ago, though we’re guessing the happily remarried frontman dials back the rage these days. If you fell off the Cursive train post-high school, I recommend checking out their mid- to late-era catalog; there’s a lot of good stuff there.
Friday, May 19
- Seal with the Buggles @ Orpheum Theatre—This seemed like an odd match of headliner and openers—the soulful pop star and the guys who sang "Video Killed the Radio Star"? Then I recalled that Buggle Trevor Horn produced Seal's definitive hits "Crazy" and "Kiss from a Rose," and learned that he serves as the musical director on this tour as well. Still an odd match, though.
- Ambrose Akinmusire @ Walker Art Center—Trumpeter Akinmusire will show off his range this weekend by highlighting two different aspects of his music on his two nights at the Walker. Each night will feature his Honey from a Winter’s Stone ensemble: Mivos String Quartet, D.C. hip-hop artist Kokayi, underground producer/DJ Chiquita Magic, and regular Akinmusire collaborators Sam Harris on piano and Justin Brown on drums. Friday night is given over to improvisation, with those musicians joined by experimental saxophonist Cole Pulice and jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson. On Saturday, Akinmusire will premiere a lengthy composition for his ensemble.
Saturday, May 20
- Art-A-Whirl: LA Buckner + Big Homie, Joe Rainey, Papa Mbye, Denim Matriarch, Room3, Radiochurch, Creeping Charlie, Mik Cool @ Indeed Brewing Company—I don't like to pick favorites when it comes to Art-A-Whirl—all this year's lineups have something to offer—but Saturday's Whirlygig at Indeed is stacked, from gospel-tinged jazz drummer Buckner to electronic pow wow artist Rainey straight on down the line.
- Art-A-Whirl: Maudlin, Palms Psalm. Graveyard Club, Fastball, Mikel Wright & The Wrongs @ Pryes Brewing Company—Yes, you read that right—Fastball.
- Ambrose Akinmusire @ Walker Art Center—See Friday's listings.
Sunday, May 21
- Gorillaz Demon Days 18th Anniversary Tribute with OKnice, LVNDSCVPES and Socktopus @ Turf Club—If you were born the year Damon Albarn's cartoon band released the most fully realized album, congrats on reaching adulthood. If you were already sentient when Demon Days dropped, OKnice and pals have a fun treat in store for you.
Monday, May 22
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