Three Acts To See This Week: Carl Cox, Russian Circles, and Roy Woods

A pioneering London DJ at the Midway, post-rock at Great American, and a Drake protege at the Regency Ballroom.

House/Techno

Carl Cox

9:30 p.m., Friday, March 30, at The Midway. $52; themidwaysf.com

For any true fan of dance music, seasoned or new, Carl Cox is a name that commands respect and admiration from nearly every corner. With a career that spans three decades, the British DJ has seamlessly navigated through nearly every subgenre of dance music worth hearing, with a good chance he may have pioneered those sounds. As a young London DJ in the mid-1980s, Cox desired to find the perfect sound that would set him apart from his peers, leading him to perfect acid house, the 303-warped offshoot of house music gaining momentum in Chicago nightclubs at the time. In 1995. Cox would reinvent the sound of another genre, techno, with his mix CD F.A.C.T. amid an electronic landscape that saw cheesy trance and Europop reigning in the mainstream. Cox’s domination of the techno and underground dance community continued when he founded his own talent management group to oversee the careers of rising young DJs, along with his own label, Intec Records, in 1999. Today, Cox can be seen in Ibiza during his lengthy annual residences, or curating and headlining entire stages at massive electronic music festivals. Audiences around the world revere Cox as dance music royalty, and he remains just as dedicated and passionate with his music as ever before.

 

Post-rock

Russian Circles

7 p.m., Thursday, March 29, at Great American Music Hall. $30; slimspresents.com

Post-rock is characterized by complex and often moving guitar-driven arrangements, drawn out with cinematic tension. Instrumental groups like Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor create their brands of post-rock from a sincere place, with near-equal emphasis on dark, heavy moments along with the soft and tender ones. Russian Circles’ approach to post-rock focuses more on intensity — so much so that the group falls under post-rock’s heavier offshoot, post-metal. Although only a three-piece band, the Chicagoans play with such ferocity that their sound is as bold and full as other groups with many more instrumentalists. Russian Circles’ ability to construct emotionally resonant instrumental rock with an edge can be attributed to each band member’s history in short-lived hardcore and metal bands prior to forming in 2004. Six albums deep into their decade-plus career, Russian Circles has astoundingly improved and evolved their musical output with each consecutive release, all while maintaining their core sound. 2013’s Memorial, the group’s fifth album, is perhaps the shining example of the band’s talents, featuring more moments of tranquil ambience contrasted with extended sections of machine-gun drums and distorted, shredding guitars. The contrast of dark and light found on Memorial results in an emotionally rewarding experience for the listener, one that’s only amplified by their blistering live shows. 

 

Photo by Wade Hudson

Alternative R&B

Roy Woods

9 p.m., Tuesday, Apr. 3, at The Regency Ballroom. $25; theregencyballroom.com

Apart from giving the world a plethora of acclaimed albums, youth anthems, and goofy internet memes, Drake’s greatest talent could be in his keen ear for discovering future music stars through his label, OVO Sound. Nearly all artists on OVO, including Majid Jordan and PARTYNEXTDOOR, share similarities with Drake’s poppy flair with R&B and hip-hop, but it’s fellow Torontonian Roy Woods who best captures the moody and introspective vibe that OVO artists follow. At a mere 21 years of age, Woods heartfelt and mature lyricism, along with his sultry voice, give the impression he is wise beyond his years. Most of Woods’ lyrical content on his recent debut album, Say Less, explores struggles with past relationships and celebrating intimacy, not unlike other artists within his genre — but it’s Woods’ passionate, at times aggressive delivery that sets him apart. This might be attributable to his past as a high school football player, as Woods stated in a winter 2017 interview with The Fader. “They were both different,” he said then. “One is more angry and violent. It causes and inflicts pain, whereas the other one releases pain. After that, it was easier to understand those emotions and feelings.” Woods’ ability to process complex emotions on a deeper level than others around his age allows him to create music that can appeal not only to his generation, but to seasoned souls alike. 

 

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