Live Picks: 10.04.2012 – 10.10.2012

10.04: Tops + Dominique Lejeune + DeftJams – One Eyed Jacks

10.05: Merchandise + Glish + Loveless – The Big Top

10.06: Chef Menteur + Whom Do You Work For? – The Circle Bar

10.07: Habitat + Woozy + Gnarwhal – The Big Top

10.08: Bombay Bicycle Club + Vacationeer + Sports & Leisure – House Of Blues

10.09: Bipolaroid + Trampoline Team + Holy Wave + DJ 9ris 9ris – SIBERIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We’re not going to lie, when City Hall started their inexplicable war against a few of the city’s most quintessential live music venues, we did not think it was going to last very long.  And for some, it didn’t.  Circle Bar had to cancel barely a week of shows before they navigated the draconian hoops of jargon and bullshit that beset the path to legitimacy on all sides.  But for whatever reason, Siberia – the young St. Claude rock club that shattered all land speed records during it meteoric rise to venerability – was left out in the cold for nearly three months.

Though one of the most consistently impressive musical operations in the city and a club that has operated for two nearly-complaint free years just steps away two other music clubs, Siberia had to completely clear its schedule, canceling on the dozens of local musicians and nationally touring bands it had on the books.  The slowdown forced them to lay off half their staff, and even when the place seemed to catch a break, it didn’t really catch a break.  Hurricane Isaac delayed their long-awaited hearing in front of the New Orleans City Planning Commission, and as a conciliation they were granted a handful of temporary live music permits – at the effectively cost-prohibitive price of roughly $300 per night of music.

But the pointless aggression has at least been put on hiatus, as last week Siberia was mercifully allowed to resume all live entertainment while the city reviews their permit application.  Local psychedelic garage rockers Bipolaroid – who spent the better part of the live music crackdown working on their upcoming forth album – have the distinct honor of welcoming Siberia back to the fold.  They will be joined by Austin’s Holy Wave and local newcomers Trampoline Team.

10.10: River City Extention + Winter Sounds – Circle Bar

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

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GO TO A DIY SHOW THIS WEEKEND

By now, most of us are aware of City Hall’s latest attack in their sneaky and unpredictable War on Culture.  A few weeks ago venerable Bywater institution Siberia ran into some permitting issues that caused them to suspend their expansive live music schedule, and just yesterday it appears a similar fate officially befell the similarly venerable Circle Bar. (And in a week fraught with confusion and misinformation, the Gambit’s Alex Woodward – as he is consistently wont to do – once again came through with the most complete, accurate and thoughtful assessment of a local happening.)

The initial reaction has been to wholeheartedly support the venues involved in the fight.  To be sure, this is 100% the correct stance to take. Siberia and Circle Bar are still open for business, and while they find out exactly what the city is asking of them and try to respond accordingly given their modest resources, we should all make a concerted effort to see what they look like by day. Drop in for happy hour or while away a late weekend afternoon sampling their draft beer selections and feeding the jukebox – basically find any excuse you can to give them some business.

But that is only part of the equation.  If you want to help – if you truly want to do right by the independent music scene to which you are pledging your support via online petitions and Facebook groups and social media status updates – go to a DIY show this weekend.  Visit one of the myriad venues that is still hosting live entertainment; buy some merch from a struggling local artist, drink your ass off and generously tip your bartender, shake someone’s hand – the bar owner, the promoter, the sweaty bassist of college punk band – and say just how much you appreciate what he or she is doing to foster a diverse local music scene. Put your money but more importantly, your time, where your mouth is.

Like the bullshit proposed ordinance that sought to put an end to 18+ shows, we think this, too, shall pass. So the real question is not whether you take some cursory, symblic action when local independent music’s constant, inherent struggle is bestowed the honor of being the momentary cause célèbre of the city’s cultural frontrunners, but what you do every day to support the people and places that make the New Orleans music scene – and by proxy, the city as a whole – so amazing.

Get your ass out there and go see some live music.

Preview // Creepy Fest 2012

Though the subversives behind local b-movie film aficionado group Terror Optics Studios and its off-shoot horrorcore label Sheer Terror Records aren’t the type one would expect to hear bragging about, or even taking serious notice of, any measure of success, it shouldn’t be any surprise that the ultra-DIY punk festival known as Creepy Fest has been steadily growing under the radar of even the city’s most attentive music junkies. In it’s fourth year, the citywide festival catering to all things jagged, aggressive, terrifying and downright adrenal seems to be not just ballooning in size but also widening in geographical scope, the result of bands as well as venues eager to take part in what is arguably the most community-minded festival experience in New Orleans.

Broken up over five nights and seven venues, Creepy Fest 2012 will boast roughly 40 acts hailng from the Louisiana/Gulf Coast area. Once again taking up the job as festival kickoff headliners, raucous instrumental surf trio the Unnaturals will perform along side a b-movie double feature at the Big Top Wednesday night, while Thursday finds hardcore surf band the Bills and self-proclaimed “lazy punk” act the Poots at the Saturn Bar. Friday’s free double header has Checkpoint Charlie’s hosting the likes of horror punk heroes the Pallbearers and ultra-rad hardcore parody Dummy Dumpster; meanwhile, the Dragon’s Den, one of several new venue entries since last year, has aggressive rockers Fat Camp and noise band Interior Decorating. Saturday, boasting a slightly higher-priced package of $10 for both shows, brings neighbor venues Siberia and Hi-Ho Lounge into the mix with New Jersey-based early 90s punk rock legends Electric Frankenstein and local skate thrashers Toxic Rott. Finishing up the lengthy festival on Sunday, not-so-recently reopened Circle Bar welcomes a stacked lineup that includes locals the Split () Lips and Classhole as well as Mobile, Alabama power pop quartet the Suzies.

With a price tag of $5 per show, save for Free Friday and $10 Saturday (or $25 for the entire weekend), the entrance fee to this massive and expansive underground festival is as reasonable as they get.

Creepy Fest 2012 Schedule

Donovan Wolfington: 06.14.2012

Though there’s much one can often glean from seeing a young band at their first show back from their first tour, I wouldn’t have anticipated the strides Donovan Wolfington has managed to make in a mere matter of days, the band’s short tour with pals ArchAnimals taking them only as far as San Antonio. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say that the golden era-harkening emo five-piece I saw at Siberia on Thursday evening is a unit markedly different than the one that has been performing in and around New Orleans for the previous six months.

A tightening of the proverbial screws is only natural when a band begins to hit its collaborative stride, and with Chris Littlejohn’s ever-condensing percussion and the increasingly art punk-tinged lead guitar work of Matthew Seferian, D-Wolf has certainly begun to arrive. But that tightening has also drastically changed the sound and feel of emo-infused indie rock that the band has made its bread and butter. Where you could once hear a group of musicians whose creative ingredients may be just a little too varied for their own broth (a penchant for dissonant noise and guttural screams and shouts that often left little room for either Savannah Saxton’s peripheral synth and keyboard offerings or the general glaze of good-natured youth that endearingly hangs on each member’s face), it’s now all there in crystal vision — Christian Baraks dances around like a goofball while hitting every bass note with precision; Saxton is a demure counterbalance but no less obviously a key presence in D-Wolf’s blithe yet intensely heavy mis-en-scene; and at this point singer Neil Berthier could hit notes at will, thought he doesn’t necessarily try, since the charm lies in how arbitrary his delivery seems.

At the very least, this is a band whose desire to maintain their reverence for a decidedly rigid set of genre standards (after all, there isn’t a whole lot that technically separates Braid from Story of the Year, but the difference between the two is mind-bogglingly vast) has begun to intersect with their real-world personal chemistry on stage. But oddly enough, as Donovan Wolfington come closer to reaching the Kinsella bros. paradigm of “good emo” (a la the high-minded Joan of Arc), they seem to be progressively growing distant from any other band with the same modus operendi. Philadelphia’s Algernon/Snowing/1994 collectivists having made “rock n’ roll as fuck” their decided emo personage, the members of D-Wolf seem bent on a different path altogether, approaching emocore from a new angle, if from any angle at all. In the same way that the beloved Ted Leo and the Pharmacists arguably exist for no other reason than to be a totally kick-ass band in the sea of superficial attention-seeking indies and hyper-serious artistes, Wolfington don’t seem overly concerned with selling themselves short stylistically: whether it’s emo, indie or punk, it’s all rock and roll, which is all that really matters if you’ve hit your live stride. Emo’s often-alienating austerity be damned, a Donovan Wolfington live show is currently nothing short of spectacular fun – a kick-ass band just when New Orleans needs one.

ArchAnimals: 06.14.2012

Before I get lost in the flight of fancy that is to follow, let me begin by saying unequivocally that ArchAnimals are currently the most underrated live band in New Orleans. In a town practically run on a collective desire to hone and perfect a particular style of music designed to embody all that is “the Big Easy”, three young men are, at this very moment, in a precarious position that finds their milieu far from “perfected”, yet more fully realized than it might ever be in the future.

Sure, New Orleans is known for its brass and ArchAnimals are a brassless indie rock band, so the rules ought to be a little different; but even in the city’s underground rock and roll community there tends to be at least a little bit of homogeneity. Many of the newest wave of young college-age musicians that have slowly begun to make themselves known in the New Orleans underground of late – the majority of which are, unsurprisingly, imported talent from Texas and Tennessee – carry with them an ostensible tinge of southern drawl. Coyotes feel like an indie-glossed Gram Parson and Pals bring back the vague nostalgia of loose jaminess, while Gold and the Rush are almost specifically a southern rock band. Yet if I were to try and delineate the arguable influences of Dennis Sager, Christian Baraks and Matthew Seferian, I’d have a difficult time making a case for any singular – or even particular – reference point from which to place the band’s sound, save for Seferian’s revelatory penchant for the staggering balance between form and dissonance originally personified by Archers of Loaf guitarist Eric Johnson.

As baldfaced a comparison as that may be, Seferian’s (and, by proxy, Johnson’s) presence in ArchAnimals gives the fit of a puzzle tailor-made for its own pieces. Until recently, the band appeared to be nothing more than Dennis Sager’s voice and guitar surrounded by any number of musicians present at whatever venue he happened to be performing. Indeed, it’s tough to nail down a solid identity when your band comprises one guitarist, or two, or sometimes three, with the occasional bass or harmonica, and your only consistencies lie in a budding songwriter and a drummer (Baraks) who’s been banging on skins for a mere matter of weeks. Yet, with the addition of lead guitarist Seferian, ArchAnimals have parlayed their already-loose live approach into something more raucous than one can reasonably describe with text. At such a risk, it’s a fairly thrilling – and deceptively simple – broth of a songwriter whose intentional lack of grace in delivery probably couldn’t find better foils than in a drummer whose talent’s infancy frees hims from the constraints of style and formal technique and a guitarist whose systematic purpose is to create noise and antagonize the edges of melody and rhythm.

For nearly a decade, indie culture has seen a rise in lo-fi music that almost perfectly coincides with the reissuing of Pavement’s entire catalog. As a result, an entire generation of contemporary musicians tends to view that band as the reigning kings of college rock (which, frankly, they are), and these musicians’ wholesale emulation of said kings is at least marginally more impressive than their even clumsier attempts to draw influence from the more obscure pockets of 90s indie and noise. In that decade I’ve listened to and analyzed pocket band Archers of Loaf (and particularly their sophomore recordVeeVee) as the kind of perfect blend of simplicity in function, complexity in execution and against-the-grain progressive art rock conceptualism that no future band would ever be capable of doing justice. But (and this really shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering how correct young New Orleans indie rock bands tend to come these days) leave it to a trio of Tulane and Loyola students in 2012 to serendipitously grasp what requires years of intellectualizing from losers like me.

Jean-Eric: 06.06.2012

June 6 is a day etched in history for events occurring over 60 years ago, when, in 1944, Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, precipitating the end of World War II and giving way to an unparalleled era of peace and prosperity across Europe.  With all due respect to the Greatest Generation though, June 6 should now be remembered as the day local Scene Kings Jean-Eric played their last New Orleans show before invading the Island of Manhattan.

The Belle Époque came to a close with a raucous farewell show at Siberia that began with Jean-Eric’s aspiring heir apparent, Rhodes!!, offering a strictly clothing optional set that was equal parts music performance and performance art.  He made a respectable claim to the throne vacated by the departing headliners, energetically delivering his signature shouted vocals set to electronic beats against a backdrop of spastic dance moves, multiple forays into the crowd, green goo, and plenty of glitter. While the English language fails to provide words which satisfactorily describe Jean-Eric, the same can almost certainly be said of Rhodes.

But this was Jean-Eric’s night.  The public adores those who deliver peak performances; this is why soccer fans watch the Champions League, why the Intelligentsia reads Lost Illusions, why Renaissance Men and Enlightenment thinkers flocked to Cicero, and why those at Siberia attended Jean-Eric’s goodbye.  Emcees Frank Jones and Karen Wallace, joined this evening by a full backing band, launched headlong into a marathon set that featured old hits and new arrivals.  Memorable pieces included the mandatory dance-along “Elsa,” as well as the debut of their newest work, “Miami,” a demonstrative apex of Jean-Eric’s pure, distilled, lightning-in-a-bottle fun.  Crowd favorites “Real World,” “Better Than Good,” “Ooh Ah Ah,” and “Pickle” were delivered with typical flair, and resident dancer, Sheila Santamaria, brought the goods as well. Jones, Wallace, and Santamaria all spent their fair share of time inside, around and atop the crowd, being repeatedly passed along outstretched hands like Jesus fallen from the cross – though with infinitely more style.  The show – and an Era – came to a close with the catchiest, dancing-est and most exemplary of Jean-Eric songs, “Bull in a China Shop”, extended so that the moment might never end.

End it must, however.  Their local Fin de Siècle having arrived, Jean-Eric will move to New York City, where they will doubtless be embraced and deified.  We look forward to reminding the pretending megalopolis that New Orleans had Jean-Eric first.  As they strutted in and out of and through and around the crowd that night, Jean-Eric showed everyone how they did New Orleans and gave a glimpse of how they will fuck the wider world.

note: file photo (Jean-Eric at Siberia on April 16, 2012)