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Dejected Pop and Sopping Shoegaze: Or, Why You Might Try to Hit 10 Shows This Week 

Wednesday, May 21 2014

Compiling this show-going advice column requires lots of difficult decisions, like whether to feature the crucial power-violence act's dive bar gig or a free jazz titan at the community center. If a gong ensemble is playing in a cave, that warrants inclusion, sure -- but the word count is limited, so does the misanthropic gamelan player's appearance at an anarchist bookshop take precedence? The coming week poses many such choices, and to avoid the excruciating task of culling a few gigs from the staggering multitude, this Hidden Agenda installment highlights 10 shows, with brief explanations of their predicted excellence.

Headlining Thursday, May 22, at 1-2-3-4 Go!, Danish rock group Lower sounds lumbering and dejected, with moaning vocals like emissions from the bottom of a well. Matador Records is set to release Lower's debut album, and that worked out well for its Copenhagen peers Iceage.

Protomartyr is taut and incisive rock from disheveled Detroiters. The players are like coils ratcheted tight; the vocals present clever imagery of urban blight and civic corruption, but they're also funny. Protomartyr plays on Friday, May 23, at the Hemlock. That same night at the Rickshaw Stop, local pop staples The Mantles headline over a Sacramento relic: Rocketship, whose unflappable organ sheen and blissful melodies made 1990's A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness a tone-setting album for Slumberland Records.

Shoegaze fans seem particularly forgiving of the genre's homogenous trappings, so a couple sets of sopping reverb and breathy vocals from Nothing and Whirr at Bottom of the Hill on Sunday, May 27, should appeal to many. The assaultive industrial clamor of opening duo Youth Code will provide a provocative and welcomed counterpoint. That same night, disjointed Detroit rock act Tyvek brings trebly and skittish transmissions from a collapsing metropolis to El Rio, and the downcast but uptempo Terry Malts will incite depressed pogo-dancing at Bottom of the Hill across town.

Headlining the Independent on Tuesday, May 27, Parquet Courts cut insistent guitar riffs with wily leads and deliver rollicking performances. Inscrutable but evocative lyrics lead interviewers to ask what books they're reading, but however little the words are analyzed or tethered to biography is beside the point — the musical energy charges the imagery. That same night in Oakland, the Italian duo known as Father Murphy graces, or curses, the Night Light's upper room with unnerving, textural pieces and occult conceptualizing. Like soundtracks to horror movies never made, or sonic responses to the veiled motives of sociopathic film characters, Father Murphy imports an Italian brand of cinematic terror à la Goblin.

On Wednesday, May 28, San Francisco riff peddler Tony Molina headlines at El Rio. He'll demonstrate that verses, choruses, and solos need not be repeated a second time in order to neatly resolve. That same night, the dour vocals and mid-tempo trepidation of the reunited, anarcho-inclined English punk band The Mob will take over the Oakland Metro.

About The Author

Sam Lefebvre


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