I’ve been poked a lot lately about the Districts, a Smalltown, Pennsylvania–based four-piece that takes its folk-rocking seriously. The music-making/vocalizing part, that is, the touring of which is a carnival of sorts. These boys have clearly mastered the “chops” of rock, and they drop jaws from the stage. But even with its “live room” sound, this year’s A Flourish and a Spoil comes off like a Dr. Dog-y bag, leftovers from that other nu-roots-rocking Philly act. Thing is, these kids are just hitting their stride, and they’re already better players than that other nu-roots-rocking Philly act. Just check out how good the Flourish songs sound live and loud at Casbah Sunday night, right after psych-folk Jersey boys the Pine Barons.... That Old Five and Dimer, the 75-years-young outlaw-country cat Billy Joe Shaver will play Belly Up after the always-excellent L.A-based Americana act Dead Rock West. Last year, Shaver’s Long in the Tooth, his 27th release, became his first Billboard-charting record, in Country and the Top 200! According to the country-music aficionados at British newspaper The Observer, it’s “sometimes ornery, sometimes tender. This is how honky-tonk heroes grow old.”
Soda Bar gets roasty when Portland “weedgazer” band Black Pussy headlines sets by loud-ass locals Loom and Red Wizard. BP’s new joint, Magic Mustache, puts the fog back in Foghat with this big-beat thumping, buzzing, melodic wake-and-bake call to stoner bands everywhere. Set it up, bud: you leave work on Monday complaining of “chills and a sore throat” because you are so not going to work on Tuesday.... Else: Be Forest (Pesarao, Italy) and Tennis System (L.A.) split a punkgaze bill at the Hideout...while Casbah’s Anti-Monday stages locally grown rock and roll by Brian Ellis, the Verigolds, and Whiskey Circle.
SanFran psych ’n’ blues band Howlin’ Rain blows into Casbah Tuesday night behind this year’s Mansion Songs. Not sure what to expect or what to report here because I think Howlin’ Rain is down to Ethan Miller and whoever can keep a beat for him. But he’s a player's player, and openers Blank Tapes do Cali folk-pop better than most.... Otherwise, the hard-rocking English act Uriah Heep hauls it onto Ramona Mainstage, touring in support of their 24th(!) studio set, Outsider. The new record’s apparently doing really well in Europe, which should translate nicely in the very continental town of Ramona.
Casbah has A Place to Bury Strangers Wednesday night. The “hard shoegaze” group is touring in support of this year’s Transfixation, a record that finds the dark trio chopping and, um, bopping, actually, where they used to buzz and hum through blown cones. Exploding Head is a much better inroad to what to expect live from these guys, who are merciless onstage because you want them to be, you little goth bot. Creepoid and Witness 9 open this gotta-get-to gig.... Miss the door in Middletown, however, Detroit dance-punk band Electric Six (“Gay Bar”) is plugging in at Soda Bar...while the very excellent American roots player Alynda Lee Segarra, aka Hurray for the Riff Raff, takes the stage at Belly Up behind her critical hit, Small Town Heroes. Segarra is the pride of New Orleans, and Heroes is an instant classic. Fans of the Lucinda Williams brand would do well to check her out.