You need to get back in the arms of Girlfriend
The contest for most memorable rock riff of the ‘90s was already over when Nirvana dropped Nevermind in September of 1991, but only took a single month for the arrival of its fiercest challenger. Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend was likely not only the introduction of real anime to preteen boys through its awesome splicing of the manga epic Space Adventure Cobra in the title track’s video, but also to the last gasps of great, classic power pop. Robert Quine’s ferocious riff on the timeless “Girlfriend” remains a formidable challenger to that of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and the Vagabond Saints Society are going to recreate that and the rest of Girlfriend this Friday night at the Garage. Hopefully they don’t get cute and try to drop the toothless alternate take of “Girlfriend” that evolved from the “Goodfriend” demos. The show starts at 9 p.m.
Just #outchea with the Oak Ridge Boyz
Among the all-time great country vocal groups, the Oak Ridge Boys are firmly rooted among the highest echelons alongside the Statler Brothers, the Carter Family and Alabama. Their 67-year history includes a larger family tree than that of P-Funk, and their four core vocalists have been together for more than 40 years, and when they come to the War Memorial Auditorium to perform this Friday, attendees will hear harmonies that might redefine what they qualify as truly great. The downside of such longevity, especially in caretaking a traditional country-gospel sound like the Oak Ridge Boys, is that the country music industry has an escalating disregard for its own history, and staying relevant can often be a dirty chore. Press photos of the Oak Ridge Boys over time evolve faster than Betty Crocker. Their image bends to the current, not the other way around. Today, they dress like a hodge-podge of million-dollar outlaws and Duck Dynasty cast members, and even bass vocalist Richard Sterban, the man in possession of one of the greatest dynamic ranges in all of country, was sporting a ridiculous-looking soul patch up until recently. At least beneath the artifice, there’s still substance, and the Oak Ridge Boys still sound good — so good that they’re finally about to release their first-ever live album in two weeks, which will have a setlist closely resembling their current live set. Tickets for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. show start at $35.
Danny Barnes doesn’t play bluegrass
Calling Danny Barnes a banjo virtuoso would be like saying the same of Eugene Chadbourne. Yes, his abilities far and away exceed your typical picker, but it’s a term that doesn’t accurately describe how he wields the instrument. Barnes is a bit of an unsung genius who writes songs that lend themselves well to folk and bluegrass, his own go-to idiom, but he easily egresses in and out of punk, rock, and even electronic and noise. Ol’ Danny has just about done it all, and that includes working alongside jazz great Bill Frisell, jamming onstage with the Dave Matthews Band (but don’t hold that against him), and regularly being given homage by some of the best young pickers working today. The Infamous Stringdusters regularly cover his best-known song, “Get It While You Can,” and local country-funk outfit the Deluge put their own masterful spin on it when hey recorded it for their 2012 album, Elephant Graveyard. On Friday night, the world-class picker adds High Rock Outfitters to his live retinue, so go see him.
Of Montreal return to the Blind Tiger
“Boring,” “mainstream” and “conservative” may be the last words that would ever be used to describe an of Montreal record, though when Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes was interviewed here before a Blind Tiger stop around this time last year, he was certain that his descriptions of his then-forthcoming album Lousy with Sylvianbriar might make it seem that way. The title itself was a Sylvia Plath reference, because of course it wouldn’t be an of Montreal album without labyrinthine nuance. In a way, the frontman of the Athens experimental-pop and performance art group was bracing his fans for a neck-snapping left turn with its 12th album. Following the dark, sometimes abrasive electronic tones found on 2012’s Paralytic Stalks, Barnes sought a more organic concept amidst the metropolitan wilderness of San Francisco. When they return to the Blind Tiger on Monday, that album and its Haight-Asburian vibe with be the focus of their set — thought it won’t necessarily dominate it — rather than a repeat of the grab-bag of last year. The absurdist theatrical element that paints every song, however, remains in tact. Indie-pop sister quartet Ortolan will open. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door, and the show starts at 9 p.m.