Spring Music Preview: Christopher Mosley’s Five Essential Shows For Spring 2011

There are a handful of enormously influential acts coming through town between now and the beginning of the summer concert season.  What is really remarkable is that the scope of the collective impact stretches all the way back to the increasingly unfathomable 1950′s early Rock era, and yet everyone here is still at it.  This is all very reassuring for music fans everywhere, both young and mature. 

 

Jonathan Richman: February 13th at Rubber Gloves 

Jonathan Richman

If you find yourself becoming increasingly cynical about either the triteness or banality of live music performance, one thing I’d recommend is to try to never miss Jonathan Richman anytime he comes through.  Not only is he one of the main links between the experimentally rough avant pop of 60′s Velvet Underground to the even rougher and more experimental pop of 70′s punk,  he has also managed almost Vaudevillian dedication to showmanship and performance (one that is largely absent in many active musicians today) over the course of his career. He’s also likely to play a track or two from his self-titled Modern Lovers record from the early 70′s, which should satisfy some of the punk rockers that ignore his still-worthwhile acoustic music. 

Swans: February 19th at Southside Music Hall 

The Swans

When I originally caught wind of this legendary Noise Rock/No Wave act’s reunion a year ago, I made it a nearly year-long goal to catch it – no matter the distance or cost.  I was lucky enough to catch one of two New York shows last October, a perfectly ominous outing at the equally ominous Brooklyn Masonic Temple.  For longtime fans I can only report that the group succeeded in the unthinkable task of making the gap between a classic track (such as 1984′s “I Crawled”) to something off of the group’s 2010 record (“I Crawled Up A Rope To My Father In The Sky”) seem effortless.  At 56 years old, Swans frontman Michael Gira is as intense and as powerful as ever.  Oh, and one more note: Gira actually turns 57 the day of the Dallas show, so wish him a Happy Birthday. 

Wanda Jackson: February 26th at The Kessler 

Wanda Jackson

In what must be one of the quietest coups for a local venue (we’ll chalk it up to either a lack of homework or the shallow record collections of most local music writers), The Kessler has actually managed to nab Rock/Country/Rock And Roll/Gospel artist Wanda Jackson.  The Oklahoma native will be in Dallas to close out her very brief tour promoting her most recent record, entitled The Party’s Not Over, which was recorded last year in Nashville with Jack White. It’s a privilege that we’re on the list at all, considering the sold-out dates in both New York and Los Angeles. On a local note, Dallas’ own King Bucks will be backing up the legend for her Kessler show. Jack White has performed with her at other stops, but I have to say that I would actually prefer to see such able players as the Bucks’ Chad Stockslager and Danny Balis have the opportunity to share the stage with Jackson. 

Jackson has a career that began in the 1950′s, when she not only dated Elvis, but outperformed him on interpretations of some of his own tracks ( How many times will I get the pleasure of typing that about any artist playing anywhere in my lifetime?).  The rough-voiced Jackson is an icon in so many categories (both in feminism and popular music) that listing them all is simply too much for an upcoming show preview. 

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: March 20th at The Granada 

This will be the first time that Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark has toured with its original lineup since an opening spot for Depeche Mode in 1986, and the current interest in their work almost has me wondering if The Granada show is a definite candidate for a quick sellout.  Casual fans will show-up for the group’s more obvious soundtrack candy, and synth-geeks will be on hand hoping for every forgotten early b-side. Personally I’m somewhere in between. I’ll be satisfied to hear anything from 1983′s Dazzle Ships

Mogwai: May 15th at The Granada 

Mogwai

Listing this show is almost an admonition of sorts. After being equally impressed by the volume and yet underwhelmed by the structure of Mogwai’s music, I remember taking an overlong break from their set at Irving Plaza circa 1999 or so.  Though I remember finding it incredible that every note still seemed clear all the way down in the lobby, I simultaneously found it troubling that their recorded work is mostly composed of safe modern-rock instrumentals thus paving the way for many bands that don’t really stretch out past a type of build-up instrumental emo that hasn’t exactly aged well since the 90′s and early 2000′s where such music thrived.  So I’m hoping to attend this show to realize that I’m wrong, that their volume especially will prove that all the time I’ve spent relinquishing Mogwai to the status of nothing more than what could be fill-ins for Morrissey’s backing band (in their weaker moments) is way off. 

Photo at top: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark

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