by Luke Baumgarten & r & There's kind of this love/hate relationship between music and the summer months -- or so it would seem, looking at scheduled events around here lately. Summer begins with a flurry of activity, everyone and their side project out on tour or playing festivals, often both. Ambition and energy run high; it's a joyous time. Then suddenly, late summer hits and shows take a nosedive, both in number and quality. Bands start dropping like flies. Heat stroke, liver failure, whatever. Ryan Adams just straight out cancels all his planned shows beginning after the Festival at Sandpoint. Bumps on his larynx or something, he says. Maybe. Maybe it's just the late summer doldrums.
Fall, though, seems to smooth out these dizzying highs and teeth-gnashing lows. Maybe the bands have gotten their vacations in or just rested up. Either way, they're ready to give this touring thing another go. But unlike the giddy vigor of early summer, there's no rush to play a million dates. That reserve -- that temperance -- is exactly what this section seeks to praise, the music and musicianship local clubs and concert houses will be offering in steady, sensible streams, from now until New Year's. The usual lineup of big music venues, in alphabetical order, follows.
THE ARENA & r & This includes all the relevant Star Theatre rigmarole. For those of you who don't know, or are confused, the Star Theatre is just the Arena with big curtains drawn down the center. It's more intimate, I hear. Together they form like Voltron to provide a concert space for bands in the big-but-not-quite-huge range. As you might imagine, this means a very diverse lineup of the biggest bands and performers from the genres that have the broadest appeal.
Like, for example, Neil Diamond, who will bring his much beloved songsmithery on Sept. 15. Brad Paisley, with Sara Evans and Sugarland, offer up their respective brands of pop-country on Sept. 25. On Oct. 6, Bill Gaither and Homecoming Friends -- a favorite of my father --will minister in song to your sinful, sinful souls. Finally, on Nov. 6, Rascal Flatts, not wanting to be outdone by Paisley and Evans, will offer up their brand of pop-country.
Then on Nov. 27, it's a show that's become as traditional as ripping open presents as soon as the sun comes up on Christmas morning -- the Trans Siberian Orchestra is back with its holiday rock operas. Tickets would make a great gift for that headbanger on your list.
THE B-SIDE & r & Ben Cater is always cooking up some weird gumbo. His B-Side is the premier venue for things you never thought you'd see in Spokane. Hip-hop that isn't 2 Live Crew, for instance, and one-man, multimedia costume-rock acts like Pleeseasaur. It's not just the uniqueness of the shows themselves, though, that set the B-Side apart. Cater always throws in some interesting gimmicks and sideline stuff as well, turning even the smallest B-Side show into an event.
The perfect example of this synergistic approach is coming Sept. 23, when the B-Side and Mootsy's put on a joint-cover Salsa Night. San Diego-based Agua Dulce will play the B-Side, Milonga will be at Mootsy's, and a limousine will shuttle people between clubs. Cater has also convinced Taco Tumbras to park their mobile taco unit in front of the club. Prior to that, though, Spokane favorites Belt of Vapor will play on Sept. 17, setting up a head-to-head showdown with Queensryche, playing the same night at the Big Easy.
On Oct. 6-9, the B-side will play host to HipHopolis Now! A four-day hip-hop festival featuring a poetry slam, freestyle competition, break-dancing competition, beat makers Jeremy Hughes and Eric Bergloff, DJ General James, DJ Parafyn, the Crown City Rockers (from San Francisco), Eleven Eyes (from Eugene), the Lifesavas and the Coup. Tickets are expected to be $10 at the door or $25 for the entire festival through TicketsWest. The nightly schedules haven't been hashed out yet, but we're going to give you more on this mammoth underground hip-hop offering when details become available.
People Under the Stairs, Time Machine and Giant Panda are coming Oct. 21, aided on the tables by DJ Parafyn. Tickets are $8 at the door. The following week, Lyrics Born is coming and bringing a live band. According to Cater, who knows about these things, he's at the "forefront of underground hip-hop music and is pushing and redefining boundaries as a producer and rapper."
Nov. 12 brings Big John Bates and the Voodoo Dollz. Big John fronts a three-piece psychobilly band, while the Voodoo Dollz are a weird gothy burlesque show.
As the year winds down, the B-Side gears up to honor local bands, deejays, fans, the media, concert promoters and area bartenders for outstanding performances and achievements in 2005. It's the B-Side's version of the Grammys -- except way better -- and it's happening Dec. 15.
THE BIG EASY & r & Connected to Boise-based promotions juggernaut Bravo Entertainment, the Big Easy has taken over most of the mid-sized play. Which is good, in a way. We need that kind of clout in this town, even if it means David Byrne will never play the Fox again -- but that show was kind of a strange and fortuitous happening anyway. The Big Easy's fall schedule now (as far as we can tell):
Against all odds, the Presidents of the United States of America are still playing shows, like the one they're doing here on Sept. 16. They'll be followed by Queensryche on Sept. 17, who will assault our frontal lobes with Operation Mindcrime. Then on Sept. 22, George Thorogood, with help from the Destroyers, will explain to us how bad he is ("bad," in this case, being an archaic form of "awesome"). Cold hits town on Sept. 26, ending the month.
Chevelle has the honor of being the only band I want to see less than Cold. But lots of people do like them, and they'll be here on Oct. 1. Danzig is basically the lifeless husk of the Misfits former lead singer, but even that should be enough. See them Oct. 4. Then stick around for the Dark Star Orchestra on Oct. 7. The name sounds a lot funnier than they are, which isn't funny at all, but dead serious. The Alkaholiks play Oct. 9. They're a hip-hop party group along the lines of 2 Live Crew. They're actually more like that Method Man and Redman collaboration a few years back, insofar as they have fun without sucking all the way.
Then comes a sudden and unexpected gem. This show wasn't on the Big Easy's calendar by our print deadline, but the Boise people behind Spokane's people confirmed that the Decemberists will indeed play our city on Oct. 26, a show we at The Inlander are properly salivating over. In a simpler time, front man Colin Meloy used to hawk his own merchandise after their concerts. That, though, was before major indie publications began comparing them to Neutral Milk Hotel (however bad that analogy is, it's like brisket to rabid fanboys). So don't hold out hope, but you might find yourself buying a T-shirt from, you know, the guy. Tickets are $13.50 and go on sale Sept. 23.
The Easy is notoriously tight-lipped about their shows, so their schedule looks a little thin now, but it's bound to fill out. Keep checking our music section in the coming weeks and months.
FAT TUESDAY'S & r & Displaying a completely different marketing schema than the Big Easy, Fat Tuesday's has opened up their entire schedule through the end of the year. Ken Dupree has recently begun bringing music back to Tuesday's after a fairly long hiatus and, as if to make up for the lost time, is putting on more shows than we could ever possibly mention. There are 15 nights left in September, and Tuesday's has live music on 12 of them -- and Ken's already got half of October booked, too. Here are the highlights.
Sept. 17 brings a CD release party for Radio Arms, followed, the next night, by Vendetta Red and School Yard Heroes, who play a brash and devilish Misfits-esque brand of horror punk (and play it well). Dave Matthews' perennial sideman, Tim Reynolds, will be doing what he does on Sept. 20. The 23rd brings Tuesday's First Anniversary Show, with 10 Minutes Down.
Fear Before the March of Flames, who nicely balance synths with hard rocking, come with Bear vs. Shark and the Fall of Troy on Oct. 7. Other than that, October is a mostly metal month, with Cephalic Carnage on the 6th, the Metal Blade Young Guns Tour on Oct. 8, and Tuesday's Halloween Party on Oct. 29, featuring Clintch, Seven Cycles and Syx.
Halloween night brings Free Range Robots and Ten-Mile Tide. The latter play "a smooth blend of rock, folk, bluegrass, and groove," so they might be cool, but they've opened for Dispatch, so they might be a jam band. MC Chris, of Aquateen Hunger Force fame, makes his triumphant return on Nov. 10. Tal Bachman rounds out the schedule on Nov. 25. He's Canadian, and sings a song I think I've heard before.
I put the following out of chronological order because I need to make clear that this isn't a solid date -- it's a rumor of a portent that reached us via hearsay, so take it with a grain of salt. Still, certain human beings are trying to bring Jello Biafra and the Melvins back sometime in early November. Ken told me a date has been reserved, but nothing more has been done. Don't get all worked up yet, but remain vigilant.
THE CASINOS & r & We're already sitting down, freely giving them all our money, so it's not like the casinos need a scheme to keep us there. That's why we consider their respective concert series to be such valuable services to the community. A little crooning breaks the monotony of always losing.
Our friends at Coeur d'Alene Tribal Bingo and Casino are bringing Lee Ann Womack on Sept. 25 at 7:30 pm. Then, on Oct. 20, a mere five evenings after pay day, soul legend Percy Sledge entertains.
Northern Quest's calendar is more robust. The lineup includes Sammy Kershaw, on Sept. 24, who will play that one song you like; Kansas (the band, not the state) on Oct. 8; and Air Supply on Oct. 21. Then, and this is a surprisingly good three-day stretch, the Glenn Miller Orchestra spends Oct. 27-28 reminding us of happier times before B.B. King comes, on Oct. 29, to tell us about a sadder one.
THE MET & r & The Met sure has a lot of jazz. It will host a CenterStage benefit with David Lanz (not really jazz) and Gary Stroutsos on Sept. 24. Then it will have Karrin Allyson with the Spokane Jazz Orchestra on the 30th (definitely jazz, see story). October brings the stylings of Gonzaga University Jazz, on the 6th, and the visual and auditory frenzy of the Savage Jazz Dance Company on Oct. 22. Hank and My Honky Tonk Heroes mosey into town on Nov. 2. Henry Rollins, who doesn't really do music anymore, but used to do it pretty well, gets angry about the state of the world and mainstream film on Nov. 11.
Spokane Jazz will then kick off the holiday season properly with a concert on Dec. 3. The nuns of St. Michael's promise to keep our minds on the true meaning of Christmas (you know, Jesus) for three straight days, Dec. 12-14, before Christmas gets charitable (and more secular) with Vertigo Bliss's annual Rock for Tots.
The OPERA HOUSE & r & The Opera House rounds out the City of Spokane's monopoly on music venues so big they double as evacuation sites. This is where the real class acts come -- acts befitting a place called "the Opera House." Acts like Emmylou Harris. Rightfully called the Godmother of Alt-Country, she's cut records with everyone from Gram Parsons to Bruce Springsteen, and she'll be here with Buddy Miller on Oct. 6 (see story, page 60). Besides the symphony and The Lion King, that's actually the only music grand enough for the Opera House this fall, or so it would seem.
The OTHERS & r & The other clubs and venues around town have a great smattering of local talent, cover bands and live DJs, which usually crop up a week or so in advance and which we profile as they happen. Some, though, get booked way in advance. Here they are, for your consideration.
Seaweed Jack, Jupiter Effect and the Longnecks play Mootsy's on Sept. 16. The Gorge ends its season on Sept. 17 with Styx, REO Speedwagon and Foreigner. Since war and the ravages of age have taken big chunks out of each band's fan base, that must have been a hell of a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who would headline. On Sept. 29, Yellowcard will rock Gonzaga's new arena harder than it has ever been rocked before. The Maryhill Winery proves how mainstream wine has gotten by playing host to ZZ Top on Oct. 8. Again, the music scene often has a really short lead time, so more shows are bound to pop up.