Photoset // Royal Teeth + King Rey + Vox And The Hound: 02.25.2012

Royal Teeth + King Rey + Vox And The Hound performing at House of Blues on February 25, 2012

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Live Picks: 02.23.2012 – 02.29.2012

02.23: Andy D – The Saint

02.24: See You In Mexico + Dominique LeJeune + The Rooks + High In One Eye – 3613 Chestnut

Yeah, of course punk is dead; it’s always dead. It died when a heroin-adled MC5 didn’t break, and again the year Blondie got rich off “Heart of Glass”, and again the day Nirvana signed to Geffen and again when Green Day tried to make their own Tommy. If there’s one lasting truth to punk’s entire story, it’s that it is always dying. For it to even truly exist in the first place, an artist needs a perfect storm of abrasiveness, energy and appeal – a nebulous form of bottled lightning that, almost by design, can’t last as long as it takes for someone else to find it again.

Yet that has never deterred Greg Rodrigue from living, breathing, pursuing and playing with the ethos that seems to perpetually outlast all who attempt to embody it. Business owner, Community Records founder and champion of all things DIY, he has spent the better part of his last half-decade helping to rebuild a New Orleans punk scene that, almost as fleetingly as punk itself, seems to constantly ebb and flow in and out of minor popularity among the city’s bored and alienated youth. Infrastructurally, Rodrigue has been largely successful thus far, and as a result the area has seen a rejuvenation of authentically reverent punk.

So it should be no surprise that the Rooks, even as a side project, are one of the most riveting bands in the city. De rigueur in their militant positivity and their desire to ignite short explosions of punk rock, bassist Rodrigue, Marathon/Choi Wolf drummer Rob Landry and Lollies guitarist Brian Pretus are pure life together on stage, though not necessarily in the old lightning in a bottle punk hackney: as a unit, the Rooks’ periphery presence is a conscious avoidance of the need to push superficial musical boundaries and instead the result of their need to affranchise a city – both as an avatar of the record collective whose existence the band’s members individually bolster and as a manifestation of the work it requires.

True to unconventional form, the band can be found hosting a house show on Friday to welcome a new addition to the New Orleans DIY community, A Billion Ernies singer and guitarist Ryan Leavelle and his wife Kassandra, who are moving to New Orleans all the way from Seattle, WA. Joining the Rooks will be local experimental punk duo High in One Eye and singer/songwriter/G-Eazy collaborator Dominique LeJeune, as well as Leavelle’s solo project See You In Mexico.

MP3: The Rooks: “Rat Pellet”

02.25: Royal Teeth + King Rey + Vox And The Hound – House Of Blues

02.28: Eternal Decay + Serpentis + Legions of Hoar Frost – Siberia

02.29: The Legendary Shack Shakers + The Dirt Daubers – One Eyed Jacks

Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks

Live Picks: 02.09.2012 – 02.15.2012

02.09: Sphynx + Noir Fonce + Rhodes – Siberia

02.10: Yob + Thou – The Big Top

Anyone who has been to even a handful of underground or DIY concerts in New Orleans over the last couple of years is probably at least casually aware of the astounding creative talent that continues to bubble under its surface while going anomalously unrecognized by much of the outside world. For most, that “Us Against Them” phenomenon is and always has been this city’s defining narrative. But within a steadily rising community of artists and music heads striving and waiting for New Orleans’ national DIY comeuppance lies Thou, a different kind of anomaly altogether.

This Baton Rouge/New Orleans-based sludge and black metal hybrid has, since its inception in 2005, enjoyed the exact opposite type of success: acknowledged locally with no larger a profile than any other under-the-radar act, they have managed to build a hefty – possibly semi-legendary – following outside the state of Louisiana. Though embarking on nationwide tours with surprising regularity and launching cross-Atlantic jaunts nearly as often, as well as being offered the king’s platter by Scion AV (who, for frame of reference, is the entity responsible for Big Freedia’s heavy national push as of late, a prospect this band politely declined), Thou’s local following is a quaintly smaller affair, possibly by design. When your vocalist is Bryan Funck, a near-fifteen-year veteran of DIY media and co-curator of NOLADIY with firm deep ties to the New Orleans community, you can feel comfortable knowing that even without an active indie-slanted promotional thrust you have a rabid, devoted fan base.

And as this rabid fan base will tell anyone, Thou’s imminent hiatus, spurred by the cross-country move of guitarist Andy Gibbs, is tragically perfect. While the band’s indefinite extended break defies the growth in notoriety they are bound to enjoy, it – like every other calculation the band has made over the last half decade – is decidedly on their own terms. If Thou finds itself lost in the ether forever, the band’s body of work and legacy as one of the most successful DIY acts that Baton Rouge or New Orleans has ever seen remains. Friday night’s performance at the Big Top with Eugene, Oregon-based doom metalists Yob will be one of (hopefully) several swansongs intended to wind-down Thou’s local run, before taking it to Europe for the finale.

MP3: Thou: “Out of the Mouth of a Fool”

MP3: Yob: “Grasping Air”

02.11: Sun Hotel + Gold And The Rush + Habitat + Donovan Wolfington – Planet 1920

02.12: King Rey + The Unnaturals – Circle Bar

02.13: The Polyphonic Spree + New Fumes + Alexis Marceaux – House of Blues

02.14: For Your Lungs Only + I’m Fine + Controller – Banks Street Bar

02.15: The Lemonheads + Lovey Dovies + KG Accidental – One Eyed Jacks

Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks

Live Picks: 01.12.2011 – 01.18.2011

01.12: Jean-Eric + Sweettooth + Weekends + High In One Eye – Siberia

01.13: King Rey + Chilldren + Pals + Citoyens – Siberia

01.14: Caddywhompus + B L A C K I E + /fucks/ + Proud Father + Habitat + Choi Wolf – The Red House and The White House

Though the New Orleans underground will probably forever claim two-piece experimental noise pop duo Caddywhompus as her own, it is undeniable that Chris Rehm and Sean Hart are just as, if not more, beloved in their hometown of Houston, where the ambition to create music not just culturally unique but technically inimitable is arguably stronger than in any community in the western hemisphere. That the city managed to birth the minds behind Caddywhompus – who, as well-documented on this site, are crafting music unlike anyone else in their remote ilk – is impressive enough; but as Rehm and Hart invite a sampling of their HOU contemporaries to New Orleans’ Bywater area on Saturday night, it should be readily apparent that they aren’t the only artists who’ve successfully trumped the creative mainstream.

Michael LaCour – better known as hardcore textural atomizer B L A C K I E… All Caps, With Spaces – has practically made a game of operating beyond categorization. Though he’s technically known as a “rapper and record producer”, B L A C K I E’s  musical vista (a striking meld of thrash, noise and hip hop) is about as rhythmically and instrumentally concrete as an early Kluster record. Instead of wrapping himself in the languorous comforts of a particular genre, he’s spent the better part of the last half decade perfecting a kaleidoscopic array of strange samples, disorientingly-cut beats, and streaking fuzz while drawing listeners in with an abrasive – though alluring – vocal delivery and a sincere, unapologetic adherence to sociopolitical dissidence.

Along for the ride into New Orleans will be the dense, abominably heavy noise project /fucks/, while local support will be provided by ambient cassette group Proud Father, High In One Eye/Country Club collaboration Habitat, and vulgar hardcore trio Choi Wolf.

MP3: B L A C K I E: “Of My Enemy (Prayer for Destruction)”

MP3: /fucks/: “Amazing Grace”

MP3: Habitat: “Miracle of Deafness” (Live from Bedroom Sessions)

01.15: Native America + The Suzies + Donovan Wolfington – 1920 Broadway

01.16: Cass McCombs + Frank Fairfield – One Eyed Jacks

01.17: STRFKR + Painted Palms + Alexico – One Eyed Jacks

01.18: The Breton Sound + Sheridan Road – Tipitina’s

Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks

photo credit: Michael Craft Photography

Live Picks: 09.22.2011 – 09.28.2011

09.22: Vapo-Rats + The Riffs + The Unnaturals – 12 Bar

09.23: Big History + King Rey + Baby Bee – Eiffel Society

When local rock band King Rey took the stage at One Eyed Jacks to close out last year’s New Orleans Indie Rock Festival, they were sandwiched on the bill between Big History and Empress Hotel – acts that were, for all intents and purposes, much more sought-after in the New Orleans indie rock world. But as King Rey’s surprisingly realized hodgepodge of seemingly disparate genres proceeded to subtly steal the show that night, they proved to be one of the great wild cards of the city’s musical landscape. Their humbly forthright presentation is belied by a meticulous meld of psychedelic steeped classic rock and a soulful brand of electric doo-wop that harkens back to the early hit-makers at Stax records.

After a first half of 2011 that found King Rey relatively quiet on the live front, they popped up again in July with the Street Friends EP. An impressively produced debut for the band, it manages to perfectly convey the anomalous genre and decade leanings that they so effortlessly jump between in a live setting. However, even though Kyle Richie, Christopher Evans, Brad Stire, and Trey and Matthew Cloutier pride themselves on their heavily collaborative songwriting process, King Rey somehow brilliantly avoids the usual complications of so much intertwined influence: whether they’re riffing on Veltones-esque vocal harmonies or throwing around some Soft Bulletin-era acid effects, King Rey never come off sounding unfocused, too cutesy or overly serious.

Back with their friends in Big History and joined by fuzzy rock n’ roll two-piece Baby Bee, King Rey is giving concertgoers who may not otherwise have many reasons to step foot inside Eiffel Society a good excuse to check out what is truly a stunning event space.

MP3: King Rey: “My Only One”

09.24: Fat History Month + Chris Rehm + Habitat – Hey! Cafe

09.25: ANR + Ben Jones – Hi-Ho Lounge

09.26: Peter Bjorn & John + Dinosaur Feathers – One Eyed Jacks

09.27: The Capitalist Kids + Marathon + Adults – Siberia

09.28: Explosions in the Sky + Wye Oak – Tipitina’s

Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks

Jean-Eric: 04.08.2011

I’ve tried on many occasions to describe a Jean-Eric performance with the words afforded me by the English language.  Each time I’ve failed, not just to scratch the surface of what makes Jean-Eric so intriguing, but to even come up with anything better than “You’ve just got to see it for yourself”  in a frustrated attempt to faithfully convey the unbridled energy that springs out of the group’s three fronting members during live shows.

When taken in the context of a city that is the birthplace of the similarly nonsensical but equally incendiary sub-genre of hip hop known as bounce rap, Jean Eric’s aesthetic starts to make a whole lot of sense.  But the appeal is far from provincial, as I don’t trust anyone anywhere could resist joining in on the indulgent, writhing dance party that erupts every time Jean-Eric breaks into their catalog of self-described “lounge-crunk” bangers.

There in an abundance of style in a Jean-Eric live performance  (and where the priorities of the group lay when it comes to form v. function is hard to discern) but there is plenty of substance as well, more than enough to make the common practice of dismissing Jean-Eric as a novelty act – an awesome novelty act, but a novelty act nonetheless – substantially inaccurate.

Co-lead singer Frank Jones has an sneakily impressive voice that effortlessly holds up the the strains of belting out refrains while crowd surfing or rolling around the stage.  His female counterpart, Karen Wallace, is also blessed with some killer pipes, not to mention a magnetic strut and alluring, breathy vocal gait that comes out when she raps her parts on songs like “Better Than Good” through a devilish pout.

On Friday night, the group’s live drummer, Brad Davis, was joined by Kyle Riche and Trey Cloutier from up-and-coming psychedelic rock outfit King Rey to form a bonafied backing band for the evening.  The live bass and keys softened the sometimes rough edges of the GarageBand styled backing tracks booming through the speakers and added a hefty weight and counterbalance to the gloriously deranged stage show.

Lyrics like “I don’t like my shit fucked up, girl” don’t exactly beg for scholarly re-examination, but something about Jean-Eric’s music and the spectacle of their performance conveys the unshakable feeling that they’ve got a finger on some weird permutation of the pulse of the New Orleans zeitgeist.

If I’ve once again failed to do a Jean-Eric live show justice, I apologize. I guess you just have to see it for yourself.