Live Music Recommendations for the Weekend

JMBLYA, a conjunto fest, and more weekend sounds to keep you busy

The weather is clearing up and it's time for the great Austin pastime: live music. From conjunto to country to hip-hop, there's something for every brand of Austinite.

Superchunk (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

FRIDAY

Superchunk

3ten Austin City Limits Live
Fri., May 4, 8:30pm

“Growing up, I was into hardcore,” admits Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan, 50, warming up to the subject of the three-decade-old North Carolina indie stalwarts’ viciously political new album, What a Time to Be Alive. “And a lot of that music was political. But in terms of writing my own songs when I was 21 or 22, a lot of those songs were about personal things. We would play a concert to get Harvey Gantt elected rather than Jesse Helms, but I never felt I was politically knowledgeable enough to write a song about politics that wouldn’t have been shallow or obvious.”

The events of Nov. 8, 2016, changed that for McCaughan. Watching in disgust as the electoral college handed the nation over to a maniac, songs began pouring out. It only made sense for McCaughan to convene with guitarist Jim Wilbur, bassist Laura Ballance, and drummer Jon Wurster – plus special guests including Austin’s Sabrina Ellis (A Giant Dog, Sweet Spirit) on single “Break the Glass” – to work out his frustrations in 32 minutes of explosive, melodic guitar rock:

“To see the rot in no disguise,” he hisses on the title track, “the scum, the shame, the fucking lies/ Oh, what a time to be alive.”

It’s Superchunk’s most stringent album since their third, 1993’s On the Mouth.

“Musically, it’s more stripped-down than a lot of our records we made between 1992 and now,” agrees McCaughan. “Subject matter-wise, it’s more influenced by current events. We’ve always had some songs that were, but never this explicitly for the whole record. Because compared to Reagan, Bush I, Bush II, this is a whole new level of fucked-uppedness.

“It definitely feels like a con job, and it feels like a whole lot of damage can be done before anyone else is held responsible.” – Tim Stegall

Sydney Wright Single Release

Cheer Up Charlies
Fri., May 4, 8pm

This striking modern pop songwriter with a major league voice and emotional delivery released one of the strongest local singles of 2017 with the thundering, stand-up-for-love doctrine “You Can Stay.” Now the West Texas native, calling Austin home since 2015, follows with piano ’n’ strings slow burner “Seiche,” previewing a debut long-player. Often a looping solo act, the multi-instrumentalist here welcomes a full band. – Kevin Curtin

Ruben Ramos (Photo by Gary Miller)

Ruben Ramos

Come & Take It Live
Fri., May 4, 7pm

In Sugar Land son Ruben Ramos, Los Super Seven – Doug Sahm, Freddy Fender, Los Lobos’ Hildago & Rosas, Joe Ely, Flaco Jiménez – net the Traveling Wilburys equivalent to Roy Orbison. Begotten to a Mexican Revolution-torn family in which 10 of his uncles were musicians, East Austin’s “El Gato Negro,” 78, preserves Tejano from a century ago – horns, salsa, polka. His band the Revolution earns every catcall. – Raoul Hernandez

Brent Cobb

Stubb’s
Fri., May 4, 9pm

Before supporting Chris Stapleton this summer, Brent Cobb rolls out in support of upcoming LP Providence Canyon. The Georgia native cuts easy country melodies with vivid down-home Southern portraits, his official 2016 debut Shine On Rainy Day prompting cousin and hot-hand Americana producer Dave Cobb to dub him the “redneck Paul Simon.” New Low Country Sound signee Savannah Conley opens. – Doug Freeman


J. Cole (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

SATURDAY

JMBLYA

Circuit of the Americas
Sat., May 5

Austin promotions umbrella Scoremore launched JMBLYA to bring tomorrow’s hip-hop to Texans today. They succeeded: Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt (2013), Chance the Rapper (2014), Travis Scott, Vic Mensa (2015), Future, Rae Sremmurd (2016), and Chance, Gucci Mane, and Migos (2017). Carolina chart-topper J. Cole now headlines behind April’s No. 1 scan KOD with Georgia trio Migos, who promote new double album Culture II. Young Thug replaces Cardi B due to her pregnancy by Migos MC Offset, but Kevin Gates, Bun B, Trae tha Truth, and more make a day of it. – Clara Wang

Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival

Stubb's
Sat., May 5, 11am

The main event of this three-day affair throws down at Stubb’s on both stages and totally gratis. Over two dozen conjuntos from around the state compress their button accordions and pluck bajo sextos as crowned by the genre’s greatest superstar, Flaco Jiménez. See the full schedule online. – Raoul Hernandez

Jeff Plankenhorn album release

One-2-One Bar
Sat., May 5, 8pm

Jeff Plankenhorn backed Texan greats from Joe Ely to Ray Wylie Hubbard before debuting his own songwriting on 2016’s Soulslide. New platter Sleeping Dogs follows suit with soulful, pop-tinged Americana, grinding blues jams, and duet buddies Patty Griffin and Hubbard, plus a host of A-list co-writers. Plankenhorn’s resonator and custom designed “Plank” steel fuse an eclectic, electric sound. Malford Milligan, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, and more guests join live. – Doug Freeman
Big Bill (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Bill Ball 3

Barracuda
Sat., May 5, 8pm

Team building punks Big Bill gather a whopping, 13-fold gaggle of Austin music goodies. The wacky organizers front the whole shebang, which includes Why Bonnie’s bedroom pop, Très Oui’s determined dreamscapes, Leather Girls’ garage scuzz, the Reputations’ snarly soul, and Zoltars’ smartypants psych. Townies David Israel, Pataphysics, Semihelix, and more accompany. Benefits SAFE Austin, and formal attire is encouraged. – Rachel Rascoe

SUNDAY

Noise Under the Texas Sky Day 2

Waterhole Saloon
Sun., May 6, 1pm

The second annual Noise Under the Texas Sky music, art, and comedy festival promises “a punk rock paradise” with yuks between sets and “very cool vendors.” In Del Valle just past ABIA, the more recognizable talent of some three-dozen acts concentrates on Sunday, including 2018 Austin Music Award winners Worm Suicide and their wise-guy brutecore, the redneck Motörhead/punk shenanigans of Thunderosa, and psych/surf instrumentalists the Spoils. – Tim Stegall

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Live Music, Sydney Wright, Ruben Ramos, Brent Cobb, Superchunk, Rancho Alegre, JMBLYA, Jeff Plankenhorn, Big Bill

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