The Austin Chronicle

Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week

Sterling Morrison Birthday Tribute, Being Dead, Rod Wave, Shinyribs, Jason Eady, and Natalie Jane Hill with Julian Neel

By Kevin Curtin, Raoul Hernandez, Clara Wang, and Rachel Rascoe, August 27, 2021, Music

Sterling Morrison Birthday Tribute

Hotel Vegas patio, Sunday 29, 9:30pm, masks and black sunglasses highly encouraged

It'd be a bold stance because he's not exactly a household name, but you could make the argument that guitarist Sterling Morrison was the most influential musician to ever call Austin home. His petri dish of musical production, four albums between 1967 and 1970, went on to fertilize generations of genres: punk, art-rock, experimental, indie, and alternative. Bands today wouldn't sound, look, or act the way they do if not for the Velvet Underground.

While on tour in 1971, Morrison brought an empty suitcase to the Austin airport and, one step away from the gate, revealed to the band he co-founded that he wasn't going back to New York. For the next decade-plus, he led a relatively anonymous life in Austin, working as a teaching assistant at UT while earning his Ph.D. in medieval literature and playing at the Hole in the Wall and Soap Creek Saloon with local garage band the Bizarros. He eventually went to work as a tugboat captain in Houston, then toured Europe with a reunited Velvet Underground before dying of lymphoma on August 30, 1995, one day after his 53rd birthday.

Hotel Vegas co-owner Jason McNeely reveres Morrison and sees his legacy in the music and aesthetic of the younger crowd populating his club. Every year, he celebrates the one-time local's birthday with a tribute concert. This iteration finds multi-instrumentalist Nolan Potter fronting the Velvet Coverband featuring members of Black Angels, Sailor Poon, Acid Carousel, Bad Markings, and Manifest Destiny's Child. – Kevin Curtin

Shinyribs Album Release

Paramount Theatre, Friday 27

On April 1, Shinyribs steward Kevin Rusell met me at the Mueller food trucks for pandemic commiseration. Late Night TV Gold emerged from 2020 isolation, he revealed, and indeed, the Austinites' seventh release shuffles and mutters like someone making music late at night, alone, singing to soothe – to survive. From Leonard Cohenesque opener "How the Light Knows" to the Buffettonian guava jelly of "2Me2U," the intimate platter ultimately recommends "Party While You Still Can" via its pocket fiesta of Ninth Ward horn honks and stay summer sexy even "24 Hrs From Tulsa." Masked, vaxxed, or COVID negative gets you in. – Raoul Hernandez

Jason Eady Album Release

Saxon Pub, Friday 27

Does Ft. Worth ever cross your mind? George Strait posed the question, but Jason Eady answers from the 13th largest city in the country. Written during a 72-hour hole-up in which the Strait-like crooner never exited his room, and tracked locally at the Finishing School with Gordy Quist from Band of Heathens, To the Passage of Time wonders, "What do we do when we get back to normal and find out we're somewhere we ain't never been?" ("Back to Normal"), while considering a world beyond pandemic ("Possibilities"). Cut acoustically alongside Noah Jeffries (mandolin, fiddle), Mark Williams (double bass, cello), and Geoff Queen (dobro, steel), C&W this smooth unburdens times like these. – Raoul Hernandez

Being Dead, Mama Duke

Cheer Up Charlies patio, Saturday 28

Deranged and delightful – deranghtful? – Zero Percent APR dropped a full-length with the preposterous title Gilgamesh II, implying a sequel to humankind's oldest text. Sixteen tracks of organ-spiked psych-pop about regular life in the Middle Ages à la "Will You Storm the Castle With Me and My Horsey?" and "Wet Chainmail Contest." The garage-y duo highlight a sweet free lineup including bold and contemplative wordsmith Mama Duke, melodically fresh R&B singer-songwriter Torre Blake (hear new single "Topochico"), and the potent indie rock of Van Mary. – Kevin Curtin

Rod Wave

Stubb's, Saturday 28

No heartbreak hurts like the first. St. Petersburg, Fla., native Rod Wave broke out with 2019's viral breakup ballad "Heart on Ice" crooning about crying on his grandma's couch before he could even drink legally. The soon to be 22-year-old's distinctive emotional vulnerability in a genre of phallic guns and surgically enhanced booties continues to dominate Billboard charts, with his second and third albums respectively debuting at No. 2 and No. 1. The T-Pain of trap continues the Southern branch of his SoulFly Tour. NoCap, Rubi Rose, OMN Twee, and DJ Five Venoms open. – Clara Wang

Natalie Jane Hill and Julian Neel

Volstead patio, Tuesday 31

Natalie Jane Hill's new video for "Orb Weaver" opens on two guiding forces behind the Wimberley-raised artist's work – gorgeous creekside flora and fingers dancing quickly across acoustic guitar strings. A statement from the singer-songwriter adds: "I'd like to think that nature has a way of telling us exactly what we need to hear." Continuing the mesmerizing, serenely forceful folk of 2020 debut Azalea, Hill's latest embraces 8-track production by Tele Novella's Jason Chronis and local players like Twain and Batty Jr.'s Sadie Wolfe. Preview forthcoming sophomore Solely, due October 29 with East Coast label Dear Life Records, on the Eastside patio alongside Julian Neel's winsome lines. – Rachel Rascoe

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