Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Arya’s Weyes Blood aftershow, celebrating SPOT, Urban Cultural Fest, and more
By Angela Lim, Kriss Conklin, Raoul Hernandez, Michael Toland, Tim Stegall, Julian Towers, Alejandra Ramirez, and Derek Udensi, Fri., March 31, 2023
Arya’s Weyes Blood AftershowStubb’s (indoors), Friday 31, 10:30pm
Arya's relationship with music mirrors the winding path she took from Belgrade to Austin, where she began her career in 2019. Away from the constraints of collegiate culture shock and loneliness, the singer-songwriter's artistic prowess finally expanded. "Something in me flipped, I was ready to come out of my shell and my life changed 180 [degrees]," the naturalized Texan says.
While Arya boasts a classical piano childhood and a jazz degree from Texas State, the storyteller channels somber pop-R&B in uncovering her life's lies and epiphanies. In her latest single, "i'd rather lose you," the Icarus incarnate scorches her wings against lingering curiosity, flying above feathery keys, strings, and pulsating trap beats. Vulnerable tracks like "Bed" relay raw depictions of depression that resonate with listeners, mumbling, "It's the end of the world and I'm laughing."
"I'm just pouring my heart out to everyone – friends, family, strangers," declares Arya, adding that her courage grew as she shared more of her worldview. Now, the Serbian songbird embarks on a brighter journey of self-healing. Her first headline indoors at Stubb's, with $10 admission or free entry for ticket holders from Weyes Blood's sold-out outside show, will mark her largest performance to date, including choreography, a full band, and songs from her upcoming EP. Due later this year, the project will chronicle the nuanced stages and outcomes of a relationship.
"It still has that darkness because it was written at a time where that's how I was feeling," explains Arya. "But it has this newly found power as well." – Angela Lim
JER, Bad Operation, Joystick!The Ballroom, Friday 31
This New Orleans new tone quintet is anything but your daddy's ska band. Coining the genre's most recent revival, Bad Operation rides each referential wave into its own tide of politically focused, distortion-free grooves. On their 2020 self-titled debut, the band effortlessly overcomes the nostalgia pigeonhole in 25 minutes. Opener "Perilous" calmly plunges into feelings of impending doom with laid-back upstrokes and Dominic Minix's silky blues vocals, while "Peachy" riffs on the contradictions of late-stage capitalism. Fellow New Orleanians Joystick! open the dance floor, and Skatune Network creator Jeremy Hunter headlines as JER. – Kriss Conklin
Honk!TX FestivalFriday 31 – Sunday 2
Most festivals would do well for their spring schedule to manifest online as a printable map on name alone. Then again, Honk!TX isn't most gatherings. Brass bands from here to Providence literally honk through Austin over the course of a weekend for free – free, free, free. Friday, East Cesar Chavez beer hall Central Machine Works hosts 14 back-to-back blowers 6-10pm, Seattle, Chicago, and Pittsburgh represented alongside 10 local klezmer, marching, and samba troupes. Saturday at Mueller Park, five stages run dozens of performances noon-6pm, starring annual brass riots like Biohazard and Dead Music Capital Band. Sunday, Pan Am Park rumbles 16 straight blowouts 1-5:30pm. Fire up the family, Mardi Gras comes to ATX but once a year. Learn kiddos how to stuff a tip jar! – Raoul Hernandez
Rodney WhitakerParker Jazz Club, Friday 31
In the Eighties, Detroit-born bassist Rodney Whitaker started as a first-call side musician for the likes of Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, and Mark Whitfield before joining the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and becoming a leader in his own right with 1996's Children of the Light. He's since built a career as an educator, directing Michigan State's highly decorated Jazz Studies program. Fortunately he hasn't stopped as a performer and recording artist, as last year's Oasis (The Music of Greg Hill) attests. Two shows, at 7:30 and 9:30pm. – Michael Toland
Urban Cultural FestAuditorium Shores, Saturday 1
Every spring, Festival, Texas – aka Austin – sprouts music convergences more plentiful than bluebonnets, but don't snooze on the local sleeper: Urban Cultural Fest. Annually, the state capital's dwindling Black population shows up en masse to hype both legacy acts and modern crooners and swooners. Electro G-funk pioneers who popularized the talk box, Zapp still stars two of the four Troutman bros who founded a band Ice Cube once cited as his window into hip-hop via "More Bounce to the Ounce." A big ol' stack warms them up: Stokley, Lyfe Jennings, Chrisette Michele, Adina Howard, Michel'le, Changing Faces, Don Diego, and Sunshine Anderson. – Raoul Hernandez
LuluFestFirst Presbyterian Church, Saturday 1
With the motto, "Where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women," LuluFest invites women bandleaders to play whatever they like with whomever they like, though some form of improvisation is understandably required. Formerly known as the Wall Street Jazz Festival back when it was held in New York, LuluFest's sixth Austin edition includes guitarist Margaret Slovak and her trio, former Asleep at the Wheel pianist Emily Gimble and her trio, and the Estrella All-Star Band co-led by soprano saxist Su Terry, singer Suzi Stern, and pianist/festival founder Peggy Stern. – Michael Toland
SPOT: A Celebration of Life
Sagebrush, Saturday 1, 4pm
The morning of March 4, the world lost one of its primary sources of color, joy, wonder, whimsy, and absolute substance. Glen Michael Lockett – better known by his nom de disc SPOT (entirely capitalized, with a dot in the middle of the "O" when handwritten) – moved on from this plane at age 72 at Morningside Healthcare in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, following a lengthy battle with fibrosis. You could almost feel the oxygen leave Austin as the news spread. He spent the first half of the Eighties building the sound of American hardcore punk via his groundbreaking production work for Black Flag and every other band signed by SST Records – including Hüsker Dü, Minutemen, Descendents, and Meat Puppets – plus Misfits and our own flagship punk acts the Big Boys and the Dicks.
Then SPOT moved to Austin – where he not only showed the Hickoids and the entire Rabid Cat Records roster how to use the recording studio, especially the Offenders and Texas Instruments – but became a celebrated local character of many years' standing. Saturday afternoon, all locals who loved SPOT gather at Sagebrush to remember his facility with seemingly every instrument ever designed, including a few he invented (e.g., the "fidola," a viola played like a fiddle); his idiosyncratic sense of humor and whimsy; and his wide-ranging interests, musical and otherwise. The celebration will feature performances from Doc Grauzer on Irish harp, Gary Lindsey & the Pleasure Tide, and the old-timey musical stylings of Tim Kerr and Jerry Hagins aka Up Around the Sun. – Tim Stegall
Carcass, Municipal Waste, Sacred Reich, Creeping DeathMohawk, Monday 3
With all due respect to groove metal rabble-rousers Sacred Reich, crossover keg-standers Municipal Waste, and British goregrind legends Carcass, I'd like to dedicate this space to Mohawk lineupmates Creeping Death. John Darnielle couldn't have realized it in 2002, but the Mountain Goats' track "The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton" prophesied the absolute triumph of these DFW-area riff warriors. Tossing pit-ready hardcore breakdowns, buzzy Gothenburg guitar tones, and the slam-happy gallop of mid-tempo thrash together in one blood-soaked bender, Creeping Death might be the best ever death metal band from Texas, full stop. – Julian Towers
MIKE, Slauson Malone, SideshowThe Ballroom, Tuesday 4
The only trouble with seeing MIKE in concert is sharing him with everybody else. With crack-in-the-slipstream beat work and hazy head-trip flow, the 24-year-old Brooklynite has fortified that lo-fi warmth with a semi-constant release schedule. Witnessing his trajectory feels a bit like checking in with an old friend. Still, maybe it is time to liberate MIKE from your late-night headphone wandering session – latest release Beware of the Monkey is his most sonically crystalline and emotionally extroverted yet. Sound collagist Slauson Malone opens. – Julian Towers
Texas State & Huston Tillotson University Jazz EnsemblesParker Jazz Club, Tuesday 4 – Wednesday 5
Austin jazz clubs generally do a good job of not only presenting ATX veterans, but also spotlighting the new generation, particularly the ones still in school. Witness Monks' frequent presentation of doctoral recitals. Another case in point: back-to-back nights at Parker featuring the jazz ensembles from two Central Texas universities. Directed by Dr. Utah Hamrick, the Texas State band filters contemporary pop tunes through advanced jazz arrangements, while Huston-Tillotson's Ensemble (aka the Jazz Collegians) sticks closer to tradition with the catalogs of Count Basie, Fats Waller, and Oliver Nelson, via the direction of Dr. Jeremy George. – Michael Toland
Steve Hackman’s Brahms x RadioheadMoody Amphitheater, Thursday 6
It's difficult to imagine the commonalities between the 19th-century work of Johannes Brahms' First Symphony and Radiohead's 1997 OK Computer. Yet conductor Steve Hackman will be leading the Austin Symphony Orchestra and three vocalists in performing an exploratory rendition of both works, as an orchestral and chamber music palette guides moody interpretations of hits like "Karma Police," and "Paranoid Android." A fusion of both artists, the Grammy-awarded band's lyrics will at times embellish Brahms' original pieces, while the classical composer's Romantic motifs will alternately weave through Radiohead's melodies. – Alejandra Ramirez
Music Notesby Derek Udensi
Speaker Bump SocialHole in the Wall, Friday 31
Ben Buck’s Speaker Bump promotion punctuates another month at the Hole with Dub Equis, Scuare, Louisiana native Moose Harris, and a live rap cypher.
REKT: DeVice TakeoverThe Courtyard at Fourth & Co., Saturday 1
The space formerly known as Cedar Street Courtyard continues its revamp with the first event of a new drum ’n’ bass monthly residency. DeVice Records kicks off with label head René LaVice as the main event.
Ludovico EinaudiBass Concert Hall, Tuesday 4
Some may know the most-streamed classical pianist due to his 2013 track “Experience” going viral on TikTok last year. Ah, yes, the controversial social media platform birthed yet another flash in the pan. Not quite – the Italian composer was already averaging millions of monthly streams before that blip. Purists criticize his minimalism for supposed blandness, but “Nuvole Bianche” gets me every time.