What Are This Week’s Best Concerts? Try Tennis, Stick Men, Waka Flocka Flame, and More

Just about any time I attempt to figure out what charming pop music is playing in a coffee shop, it's almost always Tennis. They'll be at Club Dada this Thursday.

Monday, January 13th:

Glow God/Sin Motivo/Fogg/Litigators (J & J’s on the Square): First grunge was dead, then its theoretically sarcastic comeback died too. Now, I’m not sure what to make of its third incarnation, but it’s back again. That is, if you believe the description on the music page for the Texas/Oklahoma band, Glow God. They wholeheartedly embrace what was often a bad word in punk and underground circles for the past twenty years. The scariest part is they actually pull it off admirably. I suppose I could hate myself for enjoying this, but I would only be playing into the stereotype.

Thursday, January 16th:

Tennis/Poor Moon (Club Dada): As I’ve mentioned in the magazine before, just about any time I attempt to figure out what charming pop music is playing in a coffee shop, it’s almost always Tennis. But it was not until I heard a particular cover song they did that I understood their abilities beyond being little more than lifestyle background music.

Their take on Broadcast’s “Tears in the Typing Pool” is such an accurate, almost tribute-act rendition that it became clear that the group is more substantive than they seem on first listen. The original happens to be one of the most obviously heartbreaking single records from the past ten years, a fact only exacerbated by singer Trish Keenan’s early death, in 2011. Only a fool would attempt to tackle such sacred material in the wake of such an event, and yet Tennis succeeded beautifully.

Young Mothers (Crown and Harp): If you’re into free jazz, grindcore, and hip hop, or better yet, all three, make sure not to miss this show. In terms of stylistic diversity, this is one of the more interesting acts I’ve heard in a while.

Led by bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, who originally hails from Norway, the group is filled out by stateside musicians from New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston. Our city’s own connection to Young Mothers is drummer Stefan Gonzalez, who adds some actual rage to an already lively group. Also of note is trumpeter and MC, Jawwaad Taylor, who has been involved in Houston’s vibrant experimental scene. He is also said to have worked with Jay Z and MF Doom.

Jazz-oriented passages are interrupted by rap verses, which give way to freeform guitar skronk. It sounds odd on paper, and odder yet in practice. But the appeal lies in the crushing abruptness of it all.

Misbehaviour/Spinderella/Jay Clipp/Luke Sardello (The Crown and Harp): This all-45 rpm DJ event is already providing local legend content, after a recent appearance by Chicago house music pioneer Derrick Carter. Now it’s Seattle’s Supreme La Rock, who will be headlining, with an intimidating collection in tow. Update: It’s actually DJ Misbehaviour, of New York’s All-45s “Mobile Mondays” who will be the headlining guest.

Friday, January 17th:

Stick Men/Dovehunter/Diamond Age (Granada Theater): This show will be especially attractive to prog rock fans and bass enthusiasts, as Stick Men’s Tony Levin has been a monster session musician for the past four decades. As one of those classic stories of someone associated with big name acts (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd) who never quite gained the name recognition he deserved outside of musician circles, chances are you know at least one gentleman with a gray ponytail familiar with Levin’s work. Some adventurous booking with the opening acts should make for a well-rounded show.

Sunday, January 19th:

Waka Flocka Flame/Yung Nation/Fat Pimp/Internet Trap God/Yoda $lim (Trees): This is the biggest rap show of the week, without question, but the interesting part is that it takes place at Trees, when it seems like it could fill a theater-sized venue. Waka Flocka Flame’s ability to stir up headlines has led to him lazily being declared as “controversial,” which of course is what the media always designates opinionated artists it doesn’t necessarily understand. The rapper has some opinions on his own industry, however, as best exemplified in the track, “F*ck this Industry.” That track begins with such heartfelt advice to aspiring MC’s, such as “Watch out for these labels, man,” and  “Make sure your lawyer knows what he’s doing, man.” That’s good advice for anyone, actually. This show seems like a natural sellout, so be swift.

Image: Tennis. Courtesy of Paradigm Media.