I went down to New Orleans this past week to catch Iron & Wine at House of Blues and while their spectral folk whisper has evolved to include dub and Pink Floyd in its intoxicating sonic stew, I found myself frustrated by two things. First, the House of Blues is one of the all-time worst places to see a concert; the sight lines are such that the heads of precisely two people out of the 500 sardined in there are in your way at all times. Second, why aren't we seeing shows like this here, bands that have grown too big to play bar stages but have a proven appeal to the college demographic? The Varsity has a great setup, as does SoGo, should the casino masterminds that shuttered its doors decide that it can be used again. I don't want to wax too nostalgic, but I saw so many rising stars at The Varsity in its infancy. I understand there are economic vectors in booking riskier acts, or even keeping venues open, but I think the lineups and crowds at the Spanish Moon and Chelsea's over the past year have proven there is an audience here for popular music sitting on the fringe. Plus, it never hurts to ask.
Case in point: I have been wanting a local group to mine the chugging 1970s German psychedelia of Can & Kraftwerk for some time now, and I found one: EQ rode out the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme (Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra) to the throbbing electric horizon during their set during the Yuri's Night Party at Red Star. Much like Brown Leaf Vertigo (which do hillbilly versions of Misfits songs) I don't know if they are a lark or a real band, but I'd like to hear more of them so that I can make an educated decision.
And speaking of criminally underutilized venues, homegrown blues legend Buddy Guy will be performing at the Texas Club. His impact on rock 'n' roll is inestimable, and this is a show one should not miss. Blues week kicks off in style with the Slim Harpo Awards, honoring Marcia Ball, Lil Ray Neal, Silas Hogan and Nick Spitzer, followed by Chris Thomas King at Chelsea's, Earth Day and Sunday in the Park and a week of killer blues all over town.
Oh, and to the members of Omaha's Little Brazil who felt the need to diss local experimentalists Wilderness Pangs in a recent interview, after having sabotaged their CD release party a couple months ago by overflowing their slot with additional lackluster material: Wilderness Pangs may not be your cup of tea, but dull bands who needlessly rag on others trying to do something interesting are clearly not mine.