Three Acts To See This Week: OMD, SSION, and Moon Hooch

New Wave and art-pop at the Regency, and cave music at Great American.

Synth-pop

Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark (OMD)

8:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 27, at the Regency Ballroom. $39.50; theregencyballroom.com

It’s hard to think of any 1980s New Wave bands that could navigate the genre’s spectrum of sound and mood as well as Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark, commonly known as OMD. The English group formed in the late 1970s when musicians and longtime friends Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys decided to work on electronic music together after bonding over their disgust for the testosterone-fueled rock bands that were popular at the time. After a series of false starts with other unsuccessful bands, the pair — as OMD — got their big break in 1978 after opening for Joy Division in Liverpool. They caught the ear of Factory Records boss Tony Wilson’s wife, which got them a major record deal. Their debut single, “Electricity,” encapsulates OMD’s synth-driven, poppy yet melancholic style. Their 1980 anti-war anthem “Enola Gay” propelled them to becoming stars in Europe, just at the beginning of the synth-pop wave. Although the band alienated some fans with their Talking Heads-meets-Kraftwerk album Junk Culture, OMD found their biggest success in the U.S. with their 1986 single “If You Leave,” which was immortalized in the final scene of Pretty in Pink. Although OMD arguably made some of their most interesting music in the early ’90s, they fell victim to grunge rock’s impending domination, and disbanded in 1996. After a decade apart, the group reunited and has been steadily touring and releasing decent albums since then. Although they never quite reached the commercial heights as some of their fellow bands, OMD’s influence on synth-pop is unmatched. 

 

SSION

Art Pop

SSION

(with Beth Ditto) 8 p.m., Sunday, March 25, at the Regency Ballroom. $25; theregencyballroom.com

Cody Critcheloe has fronted the audacious art pop group SSION since the early 2000s, when the group was gaining notoriety in the underground scene for its over-the-top live shows. Critcheloe has made a name for himself outside of music as well: He’s a gifted painter and film director, having made videos for Grizzly Bear, Perfume Genius, and Robyn. SSION operates in a thinly explored intersection of pop, psychedelia, and dance music from a queer perspective, and the music video for “Comeback,” off SSION’s forthcoming album O, exemplifies Critcheloe’s musical talents as well as his singular vision behind the camera. The video starts with a somber Critcheloe in black-and-white, crooning a lullaby directly to the viewer before exploding into an anthemic, infectious indie-dance routine complete with flamboyant choreography and bizarre visuals that would make John Waters proud. Toward the end, the seven-minute video dives into an aggressive, industrial-inspired section with a dalmatian-painted Critcheloe partaking in unusual activities with friends filmed in a surreal and slightly uncomfortable manner similar to film director Harmony Korine’s aesthetic. At their core, SSION is a highly creative pop group that defies listeners’ expectations of the genre.

MoonHooch

Jazz Fusion

Moon Hooch

8 p.m., Saturday, March 24, at Great American Music Hall. $17; slimspresents.com

When three students at The School of Jazz at The New School in New York decided to start busking as a trio in subway stations throughout the city in summer 2010, word spread quickly about these insanely talented saxophonists and drummer. They likely got more attention than any busker would have thought possible. The city eventually banned them from performing in subway stations — fearing listeners would dance off the platforms — but it was time for an upgrade regardless, as they’d already amassed a sizable fanbase. Deciding to go on under the moniker Moon Hooch, the three set out to record jazzy yet dance-friendly compositions — which the band refers to as “cave music” — that earned them a solid reputation among New Yorkers. In the band’s own words, cave music is basically house music, “but more wild, more jagged, more free, more natural to live in.” The basis for it matches Moon Hooch’s environmental and socially conscious ethos, in regards that both the genre and the group operate from the same carefree and creatively energetic area.

 

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