Twice monthly, my blog 30 Days Out spotlights upcoming music shows and events of note, shining a light into some less well-lit corners, where some fascinating artists schedule performances. I do my best to give ample advance notice so that you can adjust your budget and calendar in a way that lets you get you to the show.
This time around I’ll cover two shows that won’t cost you a dime, one that’s a modest five bucks, and one that costs more but should be well worth it. There’s powerpop, classic art/progressive rock, and something that’s pretty much unclassifiable.
Artist: Hard Rocket
Venue: The Mothlight
Date: Wednesday, July 9, 9 p.m.
Thanks to the hype and subsequent backlash that accompanied the rise of The Knack (“My Sharona,” anyone?) back in 1979, powerpop has gotten a bad rap. Yes, at its worst, it’s skinny ties and a cynical attitude, but at its best, powerpop means hook-filled tunes that get it done in under four minutes but stay with you long afterward. Asheville-based trio Hard Rocket isn’t afraid to wear the powerpop badge proudly. The group’s original catalog includes a mix of catchy instrumentals and memorable vocal numbers. Posh Hammer and Alarm Clock Conspiracy open.
Artist: The Musical Box
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Tuesday, July 22, 8 p.m.
Door: $25 standing, $40 seated
Before they became a Phil Collins-fronted Top-40 pop juggernaut, Genesis was among the most ambitious (yet accessible) of the British progressive groups. Fronted by a young Peter Gabriel (dressed, often as not, as a man-sized flower or somesuch), the group dazzled audiences with its complex yet melody-based work, most successfully on its 1973 LP Selling England By the Pound. Canadian tribute (not “cover”) band The Musical Box recreates the vintage Genesis experience onstage, and its Orange Peel performance will present Selling England in its entirety. Peter Gabriel has gone on record with his approval of The Musical Box.
Artist: The Shazam
Venue: Highland Brewing
Date: Friday, July 25, 6:30 p.m.
Speaking of powerpop, Nashville-based The Shazam is among the most critically successful of the 21st century crop. With an approach that owes a clear and acknowledged debt to The Move and Cheap Trick, the group, led by Hans Rotenberry, delivers songs that are tight, muscular and hard rocking with the focus where it belongs: on the hook. To my knowledge, they haven’t traveled to Asheville in quite awhile. Their five albums (all issued on the sadly-defunct NotLame label) are all worth investigating, but don’t miss the chance to see and hear the band live onstage.
Artist: Moon Hooch
Venue: New Mountain Theatre
Date: Tuesday, July 29, 8 p.m.
In an age when nearly every “new” musical approach can justifiably be greeted with an I’ve-seen/heard-it-before expression, Moon Hooch truly presents something new and unique. Two saxophone players and a drummer; that’s all they have onstage. But it’s what they do with that seemingly-limited configuration that is so amazing. Is it EDM? Is it dubstep? Is it … jazz? The most accurate answer to all of those questions would be, “Yes and no.” They’re as exciting to see as they are to hear, and they’re less “weird” than you might think; last year they did an opening set at The Orange Peel, supporting the very accessible They Might Be Giants, and their set was enthusiastically received by an audience wholly unfamiliar with their music.
You may also enjoy: With over 1300 entries, my Musoscribe blog features new content — interviews, reviews and more — every business day.