Get up, dance, and then sleep
This is your jam: The tale of Blackalicious has been told a thousand times, but here it is again: Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel meet in Sacramento in ’87, start working together in Davis in the early ’90s and evolve into the gods of rap by 1995. Maybe you weren’t aware when the duo dropped its 1994 debut EP Melodica, but it set them up for a chain of EPs and full-lengths through 2005 that remain some of the most intelligent, positive and progressive hip-hop productions to date. After pursuing solo releases, side projects and Gift of Gab’s own setbacks due to poor health, Blackalicious is back on the touring circuit. Don’t miss your opportunity to dwell in the house with greatness on Saturday, August 31, at The Center for the Arts (314 W. Main Street in Grass Valley); $32 gets you in the door; only $28 if you’re a Center member.
As far as funk is concerned, George Clinton was my jam through the years I was too high to clearly recall now, but I seem to remember the music making my body move around in strange and wonderful ways. If you feel me, get to Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub (2708 J Street) on Friday, August 30, for an evening with locals Bumptet, Ideateam and Brian Chris Rogers, the latter of whom is releasing a new album, Single. Tickets are $10.
The ghost in pop music: The Mars Volta covered it, so did the Rapture, but the original ’81 version of “Dumb Waiters” by the Psychedelic Furs still takes the cake for songs that make bad seem cool. Emerging from the same era as Richard Hell, Wire and the Smiths, the Psychedelic Furs were active players in the post-punk scene of the late ’70s, when electropop was taking hold, leather jackets were still edgy and smoking cigarettes outside of punk clubs, such as CBGB, replaced actual breathing. Seeking new sounds, frontman Richard Butler took his strained croons straight to the new-wave movement producing music of a very different timbre, exemplified by the band’s original version of “Pretty in Pink,” which would serve to inspire the John Hughes film of the same name a few years later. Over the course of more than 20 years, the Furs got around, changing their sound to suit their mood and the times. Now, they’re back to do what they do best. Namely, making you dance and sway awkwardly while staying up late and feeling retro-hip. Catch them at Assembly (1000 K Street) on Saturday, August 31. Tickets are $35.
Lullabies for the festival kind: How do you thank someone for a back rub so good it puts you to sleep? After a sleepy Saturday set by Beach House at the inaugural First City Festival in Monterey, I think I’ve gleaned the answer.
Someone timed this one perfectly, bringing Victoria Legrand’s moaning, echoed vocals to soothe dried-out concertgoers just as the sun dipped orange behind the stage. Legrand carried us along with her eerie aura, and bandmate Alex Scally did his best to keep things in the moment with tempered, deliberate play. It was one of those sets where cheering almost felt out of place. We relied on Legrand to help us see the sun out, and we just needed to stay out of the way as she did it. This went even for the lingerie-clad woman on stilts, who inexplicably strode onto the side of the stage and swayed to two wending tunes before security escorted her away.
Some 6,000 fans offered a brief, earnest thanks before shuffling out of the venue in peace. Yes, this was a festival. No, there are no encores at festivals. But you have to wonder how often Beach House yields enough of a response to warrant a return to the stage. They’ve proven they’re just too good at easing us out of the world, into the night. How can they expect us to come back?