By Emma Silvers
By Gary Moskowitz
By Alee Karim
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Derek Opperman
By Emma Silvers
By Alee Karim
That such a thing as "desert rock" can thrive on our drizzling shores -- even under the insidious nomenclature of "stoner rock" -- seems an abomination of sorts. Those thick, chunky blankets of guitar rolling across an epic horizon of rhythm littered with ragged campfire bellows and Southern-fried sensibilities -- where do they fit in with our delicate insight derived of silicon and mist? Perhaps the "Man's Ruin Showcase" will serve to remind folks that ours is a western state settled on the gnarled balls of frontiersmen, and heavy tunes keep you warmer than light ones. To that end, Man's Ruin Records presents Oakland's High on Fire -- the skull-shattering consequence of Sleep's Mike Pike getting really ornery and loud -- Goatsnake -- the dark force that lays claim to both of metal's totem animals, and whose members use "Gibson guitars and basses and Sabbath riffs exclusively, because we want the best" -- and, my personal beloved dastards, Oakland's Drunk Horse -- the four riders of the Lynyrd-Nugent apocalypse who can be forgiven their hidden acoustic ode to Santa Cruz because of their overwhelming tailgate bombast and their organ-playing, guitar-hammering prophet Elijah Eckert, whose strident salvos like "red neck/white meat" and "temperamental woman/typical bitch" set the stage for the 11-minute "White Lady of the Mesa," easily the desert's white-trash answer to "Free Bird." Bless them. Drunk Horse opens for High on Fire and Goatsnake on Friday, Feb. 18, at the CW Saloon at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 974-1585.
It's a great gladness to hear '60s Beach Boys-style pop firmly mounted by the ghost of Gram Parsons riding a garrulous pedal steel. Bright and sparkly as any wide-eyed beachcomber, but bearing a slightly gritty easterly wind, Beachwood Sparks has both harmony and soul, and heavy recommendations from indie sovereigns Beck and Lou Barlow, who each took Sparks on tour. There's a breath of fresh air coming from the South and it smells like wallabies and desert denim. Beachwood Sparks performs on Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Justice League at 7 p.m. (opening for the Vue; see next item) and on the same night at Cafe Du Nord with Orange Peels and Chris von Sneidern opening at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 861-5016.
With an organ sound that sweats through the crumbling stucco of Detroit garage rock, Vue conjures a muggy confessional leaning under the shadow of a dilapidated warehouse, where fluttery androgynous boys shriek in tongues and glossy-lipped girls writhe in piles of twisted aspirations. In this way, Vue will bear comparisons to the Make-Up and the Birthday Party -- Southern gothic prose, submersed Mississippi rhythms, fierce post-punk carriage -- but Vue is our own. From the Gun Club tease of "the voyeurs" to the kinetic momentum of "hush your head" and the shimmering requiem of "death of a girl," which will be released on the band's Sub Pop debut, Vue inspires unhealthy devotion. Even as they loll about their decaying pulpit, pouting and stomping like impetuous savants, shredding the satin pillows of their birth bed and tearing down the moth-eaten drapes that hide their scurrilous union, you will follow. Vue performs as part of the "Sub Pop Showcase" supporting Nebula on Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Justice League with Beachwood Sparks and Heather Duby opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8-10; call 440-0409.
Last time these cute little rascals came through town, every guy in the city's greasy-hair-and-4-inch-jeans-cuff set was found crying great big alligator tears because his girlfriend was smitten with the teenage rockabilly honky-tonkers from Austin. The fellas in Cave Catt Sammy aren't old enough to drink in the joints they play, but they have more than a decade of experience under their high-waisted belts. Don't know if that means they were playing children's parties at 10 or crashing hay dances, but I know you shouldn't wait until they're legal. Cave Catt Sammy performs on Saturday, Feb. 19, for "Speedy's Wig City" at the Elbo Room with Rockin' Lloyd Tripp & the Zipguns opening at 10 p.m. Tickets are $6; call 552-7788.
To celebrate the release of Out of the Gate: Heyday Records Bay Area Sampler, the local independent label is handing out 1,000 free compilations this weekend, which culminates in a big barbecue show featuring performances by Baby Snufkin, Bitesize, Jeff Crandall, Smarties, Aquamen, Missy Roback, Mellow Drunk, Sunspun, ing, Phoenix Thunderstone, Gazillions, Ramona the Pest, Meredith DiMenna, Enda, and the Kirby Grips on Sunday, Feb. 20, at Bottom of the Hill at 5:30 p.m. Barbecue starts at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 621-4455.