Concert Picks of the Week Nov. 12
For the most part, the criteria for a CultureMap Concert Pick of the Week are:
1) The music must actually be live (no pre-recorded instruments and no karaoke allowed).
2) The event must actually be taking place in the week this column appears.
3) The most important rule is that the music must be original work. In other words, no cover bands.
If your band plugs in at a bar and rips through a note-perfect set of songs by Journey, Van Halen, Metallica or Pat Boone… I commend you for your mimicry.
But I probably won’t pick you as a live music “must-see.”
I detail the rules, because I’m about to bend the last one a bit in the name of the pure glee and drama that is the music of ABBA.
Next Wednesday (Nov. 18), the original London West End cast of ABBA Mania takes over the stage at Miller Outdoor Theatre for a night of faux-Swedish pop ecstasy. This group has traveled the world and, at this point, does ABBA as good (or better) than the original aging band.
Best of all, the performance is absolutely free and under the stars.
The economic value vs. talent level alone makes this worth making it an unofficial Pick of the Week.
Now, unto the official picks for this week:
Jewel at Verizon Wireless Theater
Jewel is not the easiest artist to interview. Over her first 14 years as a recording artist I have had interviews scheduled with her numerous times only for them to be canceled, cut short or to end up as very one-sided conversations (me talking/her bored).
One time, during an interview in the Green Room at the Austin City Limits set, her boyfriend (now husband) Ty Murray—a man who rides large farm animals for a living—glared at me from about three feet away as I asked questions.
I think he was waiting for one more stupid reporter to ask her about growing up weird in Alaska, living in a van, being discovered by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or striving to match the success of her 1995 debut, “Pieces of You.”
So, I’m not going to write about any of that. I will just say that for all the offstage non-congeniality, onstage Jewel sings like an angel and the switch from pop-folk to country on her last album, “Perfectly Clear,” seems to really be working for her.
The Swell Season at Warehouse Live
Sometimes life really does imitate art. At other times that very same art starts to looks a whole lot like real life.
So was I until I realized that the two members of the Swell Season, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, are the same two faces I remember acting as musicians in 2007's heartbreaking Irish independent film, Once. It turns out that neither are actors, but singer-songwriters who teamed together to write music for soundtracks and ended starring in a movie about singer-songwriters.
Their obvious chemistry has pulled Hansard’s attention away from his regular gig as lead singer of Irish rock darlings The Frames to release a new album with Irglová, “Strict Joy.” Hearing the duo's tear-duct swelling spare odes to making up and breaking up should make for an inspiring, if not emotionally exhausting, evening.
Chris Brown at House of Blues
Sooooooo... this is awkward.
Anybody remember when Pee-wee Herman took the stage at 1991 MTV Video Music Awards and asked the audience, “Heard any good jokes lately?” following his arrest for exposing himself in public earlier that year?
I feel that same mix of anticipation, fear and “I can’t watch” nervous energy about the moment Chris Brown steps on stage at the House of Blues.
A year that began with Brown and ex-girlfriend Rihanna as hip-hop’s “It” couple has ended with Brown’s name sullied by a felony conviction for assault against her and a year-long public campaign of apology and rehabilitation.
Many are still angry for what Brown did to Rihanna. Others want to see him get his life and career back on track and hope that his new album, “Graffiti” (in stores Dec. 8) can be the beginning.
Either way, Brown’s next chapter starts in Houston, the first tour stop on his first tour since his personal life fell apart.
The crowd reception when he initially enters back into the spotlight should be interesting.