by Ryan Snyder

Upcoming shows you should check out

All the late ’90s rock under the sun

Nearly 17 years ago to the day, Vertical Horizon recorded their lone live record Live Stages at the old Ziggy’s. It was the same stage on which the tempered their sound from folk-y acoustic rock into the sub-arena pop sound that would foment their mainstream breakthrough two years later. Funny thing is, it actually contains none of the songs (or sounds) that would appear on Everything You Want; in fact, hearing it would lead one to believe it’s an entirely different band altogether, which, as it so happens, is what Vertical Horizon is today. Gone is co-founder and associate songwriter Keith Kane, who stopped writing songs for the band altogether after Live Stages before departing the group a few years ago. Also gone is longtime drummer Ed Toth, who answered a call from the Doobie Brothers, leaving Matt Scannell as the only remaining part of the band from that formative live record to appear on their forthcoming release Echoes from the Underground. On Thursday, Vertical Horizon returns to the Triad as a part of a tour that proves there’s no cap on nostalgia, joining Smashmouth, Sugar Ray, the Gin Blossoms and Fastball in what amounts to the playlist of 94.4 WXRA for all of 1998. This thing had a Living Social deal recently, so don’t even sweat the possibility of a sellout.

RiFF RaFF: the rap game’s Dawson’s Creek

Ex-Red House Painters’ frontman Mark Kozelek was amazingly prescient on his 2001 re-arrangement of AC/DC’s “Riff Raff” when he said “Riff Raff/ Always good for a laugh,” because in 10 years time, an entity by that very name would be born into the fishbowl of the internet and beg the question, “Should I be laughing at this?” To describe Houston rapper RiFF RaFF to someone, one would first have to start with his look: the crop circled braids stand out almost as much as his tattoos of WorldStar, MTV and BET, a diamond-studded ICEE on his chain and his pale, vacant eyes that are partially obscured behind a pair of day-glo Neff Brodie specs. James Franco outright denied copping this look for his role of Alien in Spring Breakers, to which RiFF RaFF responded by denying that the character Jamie Franko he played during a cameo on “One Life to Love” earlier this year was anything but a concoction of his own cracked mind (“Came to get my monies… need my fettuccines”). But to really understand RiFF RaFF, one must understand the bizarre universe in which he exists, which was most crisply laid out in his hilarious video manifesto “RiFF RAFF SODMG iN BRAZiL BAD BiTCH STRiPPER.” Only in his mayonnaise-y Houston-cum- Loozianna accent would statements like “Seasonin’ salts been stayin’ on deck, be stayin’ on top of pork chops” contain so much wisdom, or on the SiriusXM show “Sway In the Morning” a year ago when he broke off a freestyle with the line “I banged Ginuwine/ uh, no homo, talkin’ about bangin’ my trunk” could a slur be so easily forgiven. It’s all “dumb sh*t,” as he calls it, but his shtick goes so far past that that it circles back around to genius. He trolls those who aren’t on board so well that it’s hard to believe that he really exists in that state off camera, but Greene Street Club will have all the evidence otherwise that one would ever need this Saturday, when RiFF RaFF brings his $45,000 chain and maybe his hovercraft to town with Trap DJ Dirty South Joe. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door.

Jamey Johnson sings a few for Hank

Songwriters of the rugged, hard-living outlaw type are supposed to be remnants of the olden days of country music, but Jamey Johnson persists as a reminder that Nashville isn’t all prefabbed Hunter Hayeses and Justin Moores. His latest album Living For a Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran perfectly exemplifies his MO; it shouldn’t merely be looked upon as the follow-up to his Grammynominated The Guitar Song, but an album that was only possible because the previous was nominated for a Grammy. Where most country artists would look to take the elements that worked best and beat them to death, Johnson shifted gears. Living For a Song is a remembrance to one of Johnson’s greatest influences, who passed only a few months before the release of The Guitar Song, and was at the same time one of country’s most prolific and unsung songwriters. On it, Johnson recruited a stellar cast of country stars that included Merle Haggard, Vince Gill, Bobby Bare, Emmylou Harris and more to pay tribute to the pen behind songs like “I Fall to Pieces” and “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me.” It didn’t get nearly the acclaim as its predecessor, but Johnson probably likes it better that way, and it will provide the centerpiece to his Saturday night performance at Ziggy’s. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.