MONDAY

PJ Harvey (Image via Terminal 5)

PJ Harvey (Image via Terminal 5)

PJ Harvey
Monday August 15, 7:30 pm at Terminal 5: $55

We can’t guarantee that the rest of your week won’t be filled with dehydrated-soup-cup lunches and Whole Foods samples (based on our experience, you can totally get away with sampling from the salad bar and bulk sections as long as you can channel a French accent at-will, so that if you’re caught in the act you can declare with the utmost innocence: “C’est magnifique! Whole Foods ist trayyy generositay!”)

Just close your eyes, click that “BUY” button, and sign yourself up for one extremely pricey ticket, not to mention the supremely expensive crappy beer you have to suffer, because it’s PJ Harvey who you’ll be shelling out the big bucks for (i.e. worth it).

If you’re smart you can at least address that pricey beer problem by toting a flask, and if/when the bouncer gets wise to your game be sure to say, “Hey, man, we’re all adults here.” Then flash him one of your most charming winks and poke his belly ever so playfully with your elbows until he starts to giggle like a pooh bear who’s stumbled on to the sweetest little honey pot he ever did see!

Where were we? Oh, yes– PJ gosh-dang Harvey. This majorly talented musical- force-to-be-reckoned-with hasn’t done a proper US tour in five whole years, and two nights in NYC and one in LA are the only Stateside dates she has planned for all we have left of 2016. Tuesday night’s already sold out, so you can well guess what I’m about to say… Don’t pussyfoot around, kids, the time is now!

The tour trails the release of Harvey’s latest album, The Hope Six Demolition Project– Pitchfork declared it “fascinating and flawed,” which is pretty much dead on. The politics of this album might have been a better fit for the ’90s than now, when political rebellion of any kind seemed welcome as long as it went against the grain of the wrong side of the culture wars. For me at least, Miss Polly Jean Harvey was another thing my cool babysitter had an interest in (checkered Vans slip-ons, Marlboro Lights, and Daft Punk) and so another way I’d emulate her later on. But much like that lip piercing I thankfully never got, some parts of PJ’s process for Hope Six, in particular, are not so easily digestible these days.

It’s not as if Harvey was trying to be throwback with the album either, quite the opposite actually– instead of just recording an album and letting it loose on the world the old-fashioned way, Harvey and her band let fans in on the entire process. They even hosted live recording sessions at London’s Somerset House where anybody who could squeeze their way into the place had a shot at ogling Hope Six in the midst of creative happening. This sort of glass-box recording process has become a real “thing” these days, as art-making is becoming increasingly subject to the same demands wrought by the celebrity social media over-share. While some people might find it interesting, the real question remains: is this a spontaneous development led by the artists themselves, or a desperate attempt by record companies to rake in more cash? Either way, it comes off as a little too much at times.

True, The Hope Six Demolition Project lived up to its epic title as it became not just an album, but a live experience, book of poetry, and a photography excursion to Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Washington D.C. Musically speaking, the album turned out stellar, and won comparisons to her last release, 2011’s Let England Shake. But the politics of Hope Six didn’t sit well with everyone– Pitchfork, for one, wasn’t exactly cool with the “noncommittal dispatches” from far- away lands, and concluded, “It’s hard to think of a project that fundamentally says so little being stretched across so many outlets.”

Still PJ’s brassy, melancholic thick-as-bog-water crooning, multi-instrumental virtuosity, and earth-shaking front-woman power have found few heirs today, and perhaps our constant self-arresting, overly-analytical second guessing prevents us from making the kind of decisive statements that PJ’s artistry requires. Clearly, we’ve lost something along the way.

TUESDAY

(Flyer via the Living Gallery)

(Flyer via the Living Gallery)

Foster Care, Talk Sick Brats, Alien Trilogy
Tuesday August 16, 8:30 pm at the Living Gallery: $7

Guyysssss, summer’s coming to a close. I dunno about you, but I’m starting to get that FOMO itch– counting how few times I’ve been to the beach, how many not-nearly-enough ice cream cones I’ve wolfed down. Things get worse as I realize I’m only a few summer’s away from being so old that I’m better off dead. Finally, all of these poisonous thoughts culminate in an overwhelming urge to get my butt to a punk show as soon as humanly possible.

Thanks be to the Living Gallery for organizing an early-week punk show such as this, so I won’t even have to wait till the weekend to get my fix. Foster Care are whip-whiling, free-wheeling garage punk of the first order, repping the hometown scene as the show’s frontrunners.

Tearing in from Houston, Tejas are the Talk Sick Brats who, true to their name, play insanely fast angry-baby-toddler music. This band’s so damn speedy, in fact, that you’d be in real life-danger if you drank a tallboy of Club Mate and tried to jump around at a pace even half as fast. Save your heart explosions for at least a few years down the line, kids.

With their sloppy synths and ecstatic, total-freakout of a frontman, Alien Trilogy are bringing weird punk back to a Brooklyn scene that’s been sorely sapped of humor as of late. And let’s be real– it’s far too steamy outside right now to take anything seriously.

WEDNESDAY 

(Flyer via Alphaville)

(Flyer via Alphaville)

Haram, Mania for Conquest, Halshug, Wad, Extended Hell
Wednesday August 17, 8 pm at Alphaville: $8

Vibe-wise, this show’s pretty much an extended version of the last one– only, since Wednesday is officially mid-week, when you’ve reached a depth of work sludge so deep and hopeless that you’re gonna need someone to crank up the shop vac to extra-friggin’-high-power to slurp up just enough boredom-induced pus to get your heart pumpin’ again. Enter your savior: the Hump Day lineup at Alphaville.

We’re posi you know by now, but in case you don’t, Brooklyn punk outfit Haram (a la the Nuke York crew) is the bee’s knees. Careful, if at first you go see them unprepared for such relentless awesome, you’re liable to have your eyes stung right out your head. Lesson learned: bring goggles to every Haram show.

Two more nasty NYC regulars, Wad and Extended Hell, will bring their demonic hardcore to the sweaty backroom confines at Alphaville. They’re both intent on mainlining a similarly ultra-nasty sludge that’s sure to invoke the sonic equivalent of butt-bonging a bottle of whiskey. So leave the Jim Beam at home, lest you wanna get dehydrated– a dangerous no no in heat like this, pal.

Halshug, a brutal “råpunk” outfit outta Copenhagen, are what make this show a can’t-miss anomaly coz you’ve got the Wednesday fever chills or something. No excuses– not even extreme Kava withdrawal. Get out there!

SATURDAY

(Flyer via DJ Paypal)

(Flyer via DJ Paypal)

DJ Paypal
Saturday August 27, 11:59 pm at Elvis Guest House: $12

And now for something completely different: a very “it” artist will play Downtown’s “ittest” bar/not-venue this Saturday. From what we can tell, the show was originally gonna pop off at Baby’s All Right, Elvis’s sister establishment, of course, but the owners have switched things up– probably because DJ Paypal is way too cool for Baby’s? Hard to tell. What really matters is that the show will go on.

DJ Paypal is proudly at home with the Teklife crew (see: this lengthy but essential rundown of the spiritual center of Chicago’s long evolving footwork dance scene/ music movement, if you’re not familiar), which includes DJ Earl, and was started at the hands of DJ Spinn and the late, great DJ Rashad.

Footwork is a particularly frenetic style of dance music, and is as eclectic and weird as it is instantly adored by even the stiffest Stanleys it meets. There’s only one way to experience it: in the flesh, and through your feet. So polish up your best dancing sneakers and hit the bathtub floor for the Saturday late-night slot at Elvis.