Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week

Bowie and Elvis tributes, Kelly Willis, Kool & the Gang, Unsane, and more live local shows

Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week

Happy Birthday Elvis & David Bowie

Far Out Lounge, Friday 7

Hotel Vegas, Saturday 8

Birthday brothers born 12 years apart, Elvis Presley and David Bowie both matured into musical royalty: Presley reigning loftily as "King of Rock & Roll" while Bowie actually deferred a royal honorarium when he waved off an opportunity at British knighthood in 2003.

Every year around their Jan. 8 DOB, Austin music celebrates Presley and Bowie – together and separately. The annual Bowie Birthday Bash at Drinks Lounge has been preemptively canceled over surging COVID numbers (they advise, "Stay home, crank your speakers to 10 and listen to Bowie all night") and the same is true with Austin's glorious Elvis tribute, Ted Roddy & the King Conjure Orchestra, at Continental Club. Still, Hotel Vegas is doing it up big on Saturday with a Elvis impersonator available to marry five lucky couples (must pay for marriage license in advance) plus a hoot night of artists doing Bowie covers.

The two legends who employed a lightning bolt as iconography are also being fêted the previous night, Friday, down south at the Far Out Lounge with the BowiElvis Festival featuring tribute performances from Graveltooth, Brian Scartocci, and Electric Gold, plus the promise of serving each of the icons' favorite sandwiches – ostensibly a peanut butter, banana, and bacon monstrosity and a croque monsieur, respectively – both fried! – Kevin Curtin

Kelly Willis, Brennen Leigh, Melissa Carper

Saxon Pub, Friday 7

A mighty songwriter circle embeds in the middle slot at Saxon. Kelly Willis swings solo from the string of powerhouse duet albums with husband Bruce Robison, tapping into her exceptional 2018 return with Back Being Blue. Brennen Leigh rolls back through Austin after having cemented her reputation in Nashville the past few years, releasing the stellar down-home ode to her Midwest roots with 2020's fourth solo LP, Prairie Love Letter. And Melissa Carper cut one of last year's best local releases with the twang-intensive Daddy's Country Gold marking her move back to town. – Doug Freeman

Kool & the Gang, Mélat

ACL Live, Friday 7

Even if you weren't born when Kool & the Gang's biggest hits came out, you've grooved to iconic joints like "Celebration," "Get Down on It," and "Jungle Boogie," or, at the very least, heard them sampled on tracks by artists like Diddy, Madonna, or the Beastie Boys. The Jersey City-born, platinum album-bred R&B funk group have been trailblazing legends since their self-titled debut in 1969. Kool's bass is even displayed at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture for musical pilgrims to venerate. Austin songstress Mélat – on the heels of a sparkling C-Boy's residency – sets the mood. – Clara Wang

Free Week: Curse Mackey, Sex Pümp

Elysium, Friday 7

Dance to the dark arts at Elysium for Free Week. Sex Pümp, fronted by Fuckemos' Russell Porter, pulses irreverent heavy disco with topics ranging from unruly ("Rob This Party") to despairing ("Cry With Me"), while Sine proffers enchanted gothic synth rock behind the rhythms and vocals of drummer/vocalist Rona Rougeheart, and singing, dancing drag artist Hermajestie the Hung possesses funny, seductive, and scary modes. My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult affiliate Curse Mackey commands the scene with industrial-grade darkwave. – Kevin Curtin

Free Week: Unsane

Mohawk, Saturday 8

Though the most recent and longest-lasting lineup of noise rock pioneers Unsane broke up for logistical reasons (three dudes, three different countries), singer/guitarist Chris Spencer still plays gigs highlighting the band's early, pre-Total Destruction days. Billed as Early Cuts shows, the concerts also promote the rerelease of the original group's demos and first singles on Bandcamp – the beginning, hopefully, of a deluge of the trio's long out-of-print initial work. The band blasts the Mohawk accompanied by blackened art metal wizards Glassing who released the excellent LP Twin Dream last fall. – Michael Toland

Free Week: Bleed, On Being an Angel

Mohawk (indoors), Saturday 8

While NYC legends Unsane occupy outside, Mohawk scoops various exposures of heavy music indoors. I'll save you a Google headache and reveal that Bleed (@bleed.214 on social media) is a new Dallas group incorporating members of Narrow Head and Garden of Mary. Announced as reworking early 2000s hard rock, September EP Somebody's Closer placed vocalist Ryan Hughes in a fitting setting of bullheaded, precisely crunchy metal and grunge. From here in town, On Being an Angel finds a breezy proprietary blend of Nineties alternative haze. Find Hotmom's pleasantly piercing punk on latest EP Stupid Vegan Band and Deep Cross's industrial split album with Khost. – Rachel Rascoe

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