On the Beat: Pick out the jams

It’s October, and there are a ton of shows to talk about, so insert funny Halloween joke here, followed by an apology about how I just didn’t write this column last month (how, I ask, did you know what shows to go to??), and then get on with the getting’ on. Jack-O-Lantern, fools!

This month gives you the opportunity to see two bluegrass/Americana acts that boast, and largely deliver on, “punk” attitudes and sensibilities. Premier among them are The Avett Brothers–who unlike the Righteous, are actually brothers. Their 2008 release Emotionalism is an impeccably crafted group of songs that managed to turn heads way outside of the traditional and bluegrass communities that they were a part of. It not only landed them a coveted spot in the jukebox at the our own Foxhead but also a major label record deal, studio sessions with Rick Rubin, and an opening spot, with, oh boy, the Dave Matthews Band. Still, all the success hasn’t gone to these boys’ heads, and the live show (which I saw at last year’s SXSW festival), is as rollickin’, shoutin’ and foot stompin’ as you can get with banjos and cellos. Which is actually quite a lot. Said major label debut I and Love and You is absolutely gorgeous and hits shelves on September 29. I’m sure their show at the Englert on October 20th will feature many songs from it. This is my vote for the can’t-miss show of the month. The second of these traditional music rebels will be Witchita, Kansas outfit Split Lip Rayfield, a trio with some decade-plus of tour experience behind them. They’ll banjo-pick out the jams at the Yacht Club on the 24th.

Remember when I said there is at least one good throwback show a month? Well, I did, and this month there are two. The first comes in the form of Quad Cities’ almost-famous Tripmaster Monkey, who did things they way they could be done in the heady ’90s: formed a high school band, signed with Sire records, toured the country and had a video on the Music Television network. It was so crazy that it almost worked, but even with the success of lead single “Shutter’s Closed” (youtube that video, please), the band broke up in 1997. Frontman Chris Bernat went on to form Chrash, who have played in town several times, but now the old band is back together for a show at the Mill on the 24th. I expect the middle-aged to be out in full force.

The second throwback show is the reunion gig of Kansas City emo legends The Get Up Kids, whose Vagrant debut Something to Write Home About is getting the deluxe tenth anniversary re-release this year. If that doesn’t make you feel old, then I guess you weren’t listening to emo in 1999 like I was. Still, the record is a classic in the genre, in my opinion, and I’m sure the show will feature much fist-pumping and shouting along to the Pee Wee inspired hit, “I’m a Loner, Dottie…A Rebel.” The show is at The Picador on the 3rd. Opening is Australian outfit Youth Group, who had a bit of indie success with 2005’s Skeleton Jar. I thought their follow-up, Casino Twilight Dogs, was disappointing, but no one is going to this show to see Youth Group, right?

It’s not really a throwback show, but former Pedro the Lion ringleader David Bazan will be coming to the Picador on the 29th with Eric Elbogen’s project Say Hi providing support. I’ll admit I was never a big Pedro fan, though I’ve heard Bazan is big in the Christian music scene, so get there early and wear a Young Life t-shirt to fit in. I’m kidding, sorta, but I’m actually more intrigued by Say Hi, who used to be called Say Hi to Your Mom and had an indie/college radio hit in 2004 with a the track “Let’s Talk About Spaceships.” It’s a good song, and in general his music is bedroom electronic pop not unlike Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. He’s wildly prolific (and if you’re literally just recording in your bedroom, then why not?), and his most recent disc is this year’s Oohs & Aahs.

If it’s indie rock of a somewhat delicate variety that suits your fancy (and really, isn’t most indie rock delicate? It goes without saying in polite society), then there are several great shows this month. Notable among them are Anni Rossi at the Picador on the 2nd, Headlights at the Mill on the 15th, and K records artist Karl Blau at Public Space ONE on the 21st.

If you like it loud, weird or sometimes both, then I highly recommend Ill Ease, the one-woman loop artist Elizabeth Sharp, who plays guitar, bass and drums at the same time and makes it all sound good in the process. On a bill that could only be described as bizarre, she’ll open for the Trachtenberg Family Slideshow Players, and if you don’t know what that is then please, stop reading this and start googling. Additionally, on the 5th at the Mill will be local buzz band Nurses, whose new record Apple’s Acre is legitimately awesome. They’re only mildly weird, though, which makes their appearance in this paragraph somewhat suspect.

In local news, Euforquestra is releasing a new record, and you know what that means: a record release party! It’s going down at the Yacht Club, and is also a celebration of their fiftieth show. That’s happening on the 9th. The Diplomats of Solid Sound, everyone’s favorite funk-soul brothers and sisters are playing the Mill on the 2nd. Public Space ONE has started a new partnership with KRUI that will include some shows being broadcast live on the air. This will be the case for the band Br’er on the 8th and Nick Africano on the 22nd. Viking Fuck plays down there on the 16th. I’m sure there are some Halloween antics planned for all the venues, which will make you howl at the moon. And if you like animals, then you should go see Dave Zollo at the Mill on the 3rd for a benefit for the local animal shelter. Music for a good cause? Sometimes that’s the best kind.

Craig Ely is a music writer, promoter and American studies grad student, usually in that order. Got news on the music scene? Write to him at

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