OMG You’re a Girl Drummer?!
w/ Milk Dick, Desert Sharks, Prima, Fraidycat, Rizzos
Saturday August 27, 8 pm at Sunnyvale: $8
“Girl bands.” You know the term. In fact, you’ve probably even used it a few times– I know I have. It’s easy to do, and sometimes difficult to avoid, even for people who identify as feminists. But we should really stop saying it. All of us.
It happens because the image of an “ideal” rock n’ roll band has been hammered into us from day one, starting at the moment your crazy, mustachioed Uncle Frank threw on Exile on Main Street and started whirling his tubby hips around and around, sloshing beer onto your thin, porous baby skull for the first time (whether it dripped down your tufts of hair or just sat there on top determined how the rest of your life plays out– slumped over in a dark dive bar or squatting on an exercise-ball, bushy-tailed and bright-eyed at Generic Tech Startup X).
We’re taught that a “neutral” or “normal” rock band means skinny, tall, white, straight (but not too straight), good-looking boys with the ability to command long, thick hair at will, with impeccable/irreverent style thrown just slightly off-balance by a disheveled swagger. There may be one token member of color in the idealized band, but he must be a) male and b) relegated to the background as the keyboardist, synth player, or perhaps an occasionally appearing saxophonist.
Of course, this so-called ideal is not only exceedingly boring, it’s dangerous and exclusive, and has contributed to rock n’ roll’s recent decline in favor of more dynamic music-making scenes. On the other hand, the people who have long been excluded from rock n’ roll are fighting back against the monochrome circle jerk and refusing to let Uncle Fred’s era rule the modern day.
And it’s obviously gonna work, since rock n’ roll, at least in theory, is a culture founded on rebellion and giving a voice to the powerless, the outsider, the oppressed– so why has it had such a hard time living up to it? Well, probably because legit everything that makes rock n’ roll great
came from was stolen from the blues. (One Bushwick-based musician/artist, M. Lamar, who calls himself a “negro gothic devil-worshipping free black man in the blues tradition,” is doing some incredible, brand-new things with the blues, which he says is the music of “liberation” and we’re totally on board with that.)
The venue Sunnyvale is no stranger to these kinds of inclusive music events, but this one sounds super fantastic– it’s all about showcasing women drummers. But the tone isn’t so much about “OMG WTF HOW?! Ladies on drums?!” as it is something along the lines of: “Here are some really sick bands with drummers who happen to be women.” Yes, women can drum, and yeah, they can do it just as well/better/way better than men. And guess what? It’s becoming less unusual to see a woman behind a drum kit, and for that we should all be thankful.
Milk Dick is a twangy, off-kilter garage band of weirdos who are into writing songs about being a kid and finding a dead dog on the side of the highway, a General with intimacy problems. Their last release, Romantic Superstore, is a super-duper fun, instantly lovable party record– throw it on at your next BBQ and it’ll instantly transform a dull Sunday afternoon milling around a putrid kiddy pool (it was fun for exactly two hours in mid-July before it turned green and became the saddest cesspool in Bushwick) and grumpy vegans who’re passive-aggressively poking at their homemade tempeh slabs and silently competing for top victim of the afternoon’s most egregious meat grazing. The girls will strip off their culottes and the man-boys will burn their ironic cargo shorts (c’mon we all knew that was never gonna be an actual thing).
Coming in from Atlanta is a band called Fraidycat. They have a distinctly ’80s indie rock sensibility, blending the supremely catchy and brilliantly simple guitar/bass riffs cut with a combination of hoarse-voiced angst and young love sweetness perfected by The Clean and Dinosaur Jr.– and exactly what we lost to the behemoth that swallowed indie and pooped out Indie™ (i.e. a marketing label with no real formal characteristics, cultural signifiers, or discernible meaning, that’s often mistook for a genre).
If you like your rock n’ roll with a bit of the old misty-eyed romance every now and again, then The Rizzos are for you. If moody, brooding Sonic Youth discord is more your thing, get excited about Prima– in fact, B+B interviewed front person/ guitarist Rose Blanshei recently, and she spoke candidly about her own struggle as a woman making rock music. “It does’t really feel like you have permission, or the right to follow your dreams against any expectations that you’ve grown up with or received from the world,” Rose said. “There comes a time when you just have to take the reins and say, ‘This is my life, I’m going to live it the way I want to.’” Well said.
Zula, Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang, Sarah Kinlaw, Erica Eso, Ashcan Orchestra, and Mr. Twin Sister (DJ set)
Friday August 26 at Trans-Pecos: $12.
Headlining this show is the experimental pop group Zula, celebrating the release of their new album, Grasshopper, a perfectly weird pop record that’s unafraid to blend the ethereal, soft sounds of distant dream pop with an impressive, record-dork-level array of eclectic sounds. What makes Zula stand out in a crowded groovy pop scene? It’s their their penchant for odd timing and math rock-informed breaks and beats, that’s what.
You know Bubu? I didn’t either until I was introduced to the music of Janka Nabay, who will be performing with the aptly-named Bubu Gang. Nabay infuses Bubu– not a strange way to pronounce “Baba,” but a traditional music rooted in Serria Leone with 500 years of history at its back– with his own polyglot flair (he sings in four languages) and a producer’s knack for diverse influences. Bubu itself is not just fun to say, but really pleasant on the old ears too– with delicate bamboo flute sounds, frenetic drum beats, and sing-along vocals.
Ashcan Orchestra will also be on board to keep things freaky deaky plus a DJ set by Mr. Twin Sister for some sparkly Brooklyn rock-scene star power. Something tells us this is gonna be a hella fun party.
Curved Light, Suncastle, Soul Worm
Sunday August 28, 8 pm at the Glove: $8
Curved Light will provide your ears with a much needed relaxation staycation. That’s because this kind of music is the sonic version of a neck-pillow situation and long soak in one of those weird plastic foot baths that change colors like a hot tub but definitely are not a hot tub, mainly because you can afford one. Boom! This project of Peter Tran (Baltimore by way of Austin, Texas) picks up equally on Computer Age early-’80s glitch and spacey electronic grooves that would be at home in any sci-fi historical revisionist made-for-TV special.
Soul Worm, on the other hand, is a head trip of the first order. Mallie Sanford’s bizarre musical collages are ambient, pulsating strangeness speckled with sound effects that are likely to invade your dreams after you leave an unplayed video game on all night. And, given my rather interesting/horrifying experience, I’m suspicious that she’s also tapped furry porn for some of the samples.