Live Picks: 09.27.2012 – 10.03.2012

09.27: The Soft Pack + Heavy Hawaii + KG Accidental – One Eyed Jacks

09.28: Rotary Downs + King Rey – Prytania Bar

09.29: Glish + The Beams + Native America + L.F. Knighton – Circle Bar

On some oblique level, the Beams may be the purest example in New Orleans of what it means to be a band. Though boasting, through its members, a pedigree that links it to several of the most well-known and meaningful local rock acts of the last fifteen years, this bristly four-piece power pop act seems to perpetually exist as a fringe presence or a phantom of indie rock past. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing: the less time the Beams spend striving for relevancy in a culture that demands overt self-promotion and subtle competition, the more opportunities they find to offer opening support for the young artists who are actively seeking mainstream acclaim, and thus act as a model of hard work and passion where there would otherwise be none.

At their core the Beams are – simply put – an always pleasant, often loud, occasionally mind-blowing concoction of jangled guitars, heartbreak melodies and charmingly unrefined vocal harmonies. Yet there is always something even more unique about this act bubbling just below its forthright surface. Indeed, most Beams live shows tend to carry with them elements of both isolationism and confederation. Almost as often as the band can be found doing one-off afternoon bar shows and record store appearances completely by themselves, they can be found comfortably on a bill next to literally any band in the city that uses a guitar.

This Saturday night is no exception, as the Beams stop into Circle Bar to lend a hand to space rock shoegazers Glish, who will be celebrating the release of their second EP, Come Down. Fuzzcore act Native America and Mobile, Alabama-based rock and roll band L.F. Knighton also perform.

09.30: Heat Dust + Donovan Wolfington + Isidro

10.01: King Louie’s Missing Monuments + Cyclops + White Mystery – Circle Bar

10.03: Dinosaur Jr. + Shearwater – Tipitina’s

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Live Picks: 09.06.2012 – 09.12.2012

09.06: Coyotes + Aerial Attack + Cozy – Prytania Bar

09.07: Yeasayer – Republic

09.08: Native America + Donovan Wolfington + ArchAnimals – Thermos

If I were to pick one concert line-up that accurately represents the personality and attitudinal makeup of New Orleans’ DIY Indie culture, it would have to be one that showcases three bands who seem to be philosophically conjoined at their hips if disparate in their styles of music, and it would have to take place at an unseen, untested pop-up venue – in true underground fashion. And though such concerts take place almost daily for the majority of the year, a summer of hard touring, recording and traveling by local musicians has found these events occurring relatively less often of late. Fortunately, three of the city’s most talented groups of heatseakers have gotten back on the horse for the kind of casual, off-the-beaten-path show that local live music fans have come to crave over the last couple of years.

The tandem of Donovan Wolfington and Archanimals has enjoyed both a warm introduction to New Orleans and a steadily growing level of popularity since the beginning of the summer. In addition to often being found on the playbill together locally, Donovan – a five-piece emo punk outfit – and Archanimals – a southern rock-influenced noise rock trio – recently co-headlined a regional tour, and they both spent the second half of the summer laying down tracks for their respective full-length records, due later this fall.

Meanwhile, the lore of Ross Farbe’s one-man-turned-three-man Native America project has nearly begun to precede it by now. What was once considered a side project which had he and bassist John St. Cyr’s splitting time with Sun Hotel (and which, up until Country Club’s hiatus/disbandment, had drummer Ray Micarelli doing the same) has, for a time now, been a genuinely potent entity in and of itself, with some even going so far as to declare this noise pop act the best that New Orleans has to offer. With virtually no recorded material on which to crutch themselves (a full length is perpetually imminent), Native America has made their name solely on their live performances, which tend to lean heavily on distortion and rhythmic nuance.

This Saturday night, the bands get together for an early show at new venue Thermos, which can be found on the corner of Plum and Leonidas and which might be a house or possibly a bar, maybe even a parking lot.

MP3: Native America: “Winedrunk Potluck”

MP3: Donovan Wolfington: “Spencer Green”

09.10: I Was Totally Destroying It + Faun Fables + Kara Mann – Circle Bar

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

Live Picks: 02.02.2012 – 02.08.2012

02.02: Native America + Netherfriends + Pals – CIRCLE BAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

During it’s yearlong absence, the New Orleans music scene did pretty well for itself without Circle Bar around.  Shows that probably should have (and technically would have) gone down at Circle Bar found a variety of alternative homes to varying but mostly admirable levels of success.  The Blue Nile Balcony Room, AllWays Lounge, Howlin’ Wolf Den, Hi-Ho Lounge, The Saint and many others picked up huge amounts of slack; so much so that for certain strenuous stretches of the year, when the live calendar was diversely and magnificently packed to the gills, the Circle Bar certainly wasn’t forgotten but wasn’t necessarily missed, either.

But man. Now Circle Bar’s back, it’s hard to imagine what life was like without her.  In the two weeks since mercifully reopening, the venerable rock club has picked up right where it left off as the go-to room to find every brilliant shade of the New Orleans live music panorama.  And while talk about the utility of the subtle but welcome improvements has dominated recent discourse – the higher ceilings and slightly more wide-open floor plan have probably improved the concert-going experience, but who among us can really say for sure? – Circle Bar’s most noteworthy achievement of the past 12 months has simply been wasting no time in restoring a weekend schedule that cuts no corners in featuring the most overlooked and/or exciting and/or impressive bands our fine city has to offer.

For the recently un-re-initiated, Thursday night’s showcase may be the perfect excuse to check out the new digs: Native America has grown from Sun Hotel drummer Ross Farbe’s found sound side project to a surging space pop trio, churning out a prolific stream of bouncy, fitful tunes and accompanying them with exquisitely precise and energetic performances.  They are joined by Chicagoan Shawn Rosenblatt’s full-power one-man psych-pop orchestra Netherfriends, and local jam/folk band Pals, who went on a late-2011 tear following their showstopping supporting slot for Washed Out at One Eyed Jacks in October.  It’s an exciting bill that would be a sure shot regardless of its venue but seems custom made for Circle Bar, which even after the facelift has maintained the same dark and funky intimacy New Orleans’ showgoing populace had grown to adore.

MP3: Native America: “Just Like Heaven”

02.03: King Khan And The Shrines + The Jacuzzi Boys + Big History + Blue Party + Lagniappe Brass Band – LBC Quad at Tulane University

02.04: Zola Jesus + Talk Normal – One Eyed Jacks

02.07: Anvil + Mountain of Wizard + DJ Penetrol – Siberia

02.08: Vox and the Hound + Slaughterhouse Chorus + Henry’s Rifle – The Saint

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