30 Days Out: a look at upcoming concerts

Superhumanoids bring 80s synth pop into the modern age. They return to Asheville's Mothlight on Sunday, Oct. 4. Photo by Bill Kopp

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 to the show.

Modern-retro synth-pop, chirpy shoegaze, power-pop country: None of those things truly exist, do they? In fact they do, and artists trading in those unique styles are all coming through our mountain city in the next 30 days. And there’s also a cool, free event for bass players and those who love them (as well as those who enjoy the sounds they make).

Artist: Superhumanoids
Venue: Mothlight
Date: Sunday, Oct. 4, 9:30 p.m.
Door: $10 advance / $12 day of show
This Los Angeles trio’s sound owes a stylistic debt to ’80s synthcentric pop, most notably (the airy vocals of Sarah Chernoff, one of the group’s two singers), Depeche Mode (via the synth bass and drum machines) and ABC (the dance-floor vibe that’s a hallmark of many of the tunes). But a modern twist keeps them from the nostalgia trap. There’s a “real” flavor to the songs that belies the machine orientations. A strong sense of melody helps immeasurably. Live onstage, the music features electric guitar much more prominently in the mix, giving it a sound that updates vintage synth-pop for modern-rock listeners. This is at least the band’s second — quite possibly third or more — visit to Asheville, where its airy-yet-solid analog-pop finds a welcome audience. Rush Midnight opens the show.

Photo by Bill Kopp

Event: Asheville Bass Hang
Venue: Isis Restaurant and Music Hall
Date: Monday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m.
Door: FREE
Bass players don’t always get their share of love and respect. Far too many guitarists have ill-advisedly thought to themselves, “Hey that thing only has four strings. I can play it.” The truth is much more complicated: together with drums, the electric bass guitar (or the acoustic bass) forms the “engine room” of most musical ensembles. This event is nominally an opportunity for local bass players of all stripes to meet, network and share news about the latest in bass. (Yes, that’s an actual thing.) But there will be live music and demonstrations, so even if you’re merely bass-curious, this free event should be entertaining. Note: there’s no truth to the rumor that the evening’s festivities will conclude with an all-star jam of Spinal Tap‘s “Big Bottom.”


Artist: Beach House
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 7, 9 p.m.
Door: $25 advance / $28 day of show
This group — two members in the studio, adding three more for live dates — proves that it’s entirely possible to be retro and modern all at once. Beach House’s sound combines girl group sounds of the pre-Beatles era with Phil Spector‘s “wall of sound” production aesthetic, wrapping it all in a gauzy, punk/shoegaze package that suggests My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mary Chain as much as anything else. The band’s dream-pop has been enthusiastically received on albums (five in the last decade) and live tours; its studio approach is built upon in live performance. For a full appreciation of Beach House’s music, you’ll need both the albums and the show. For the latter, there’s this October 7 booking, and for the former, well, try the merch table. Jessica Pratt opens.

Photo by Paul Moore

Artist: Old 97’s
Venue: The Orange Peel
Date: Friday, Oct. 16, 9 p.m.
Door: $20 advance / $22 day of show
Remember the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercial? The Old 97’s are music’s version. Someone got power-pop on their country, and this Dallas group is the tasty result. Nominally alt-country — they’ve recorded with Waylon Jennings — the group’s music would be equally at home on a playlist that included Dwight Twilley, Matthew Sweet and Beck. The band’s musical credibility is such that it never sounds (or feels) like a sell-out; the musicians have a foot in both camps without pandering to either. Omnivore Recordings recently reissued an expanded version of Old 97’s 1994 debut Hitchhike to Rhome, but all 12-plus of the band’s original albums as well as compilations and reissues are well worth investigating. Old 97’s played Bele Chere a number of years ago, but make it to Asheville only occasionally. Don’t say I didn’t encourage you. Banditos open.

You may also enjoy: With over 2000 entries, my Musoscribe blog features new content — interviews, reviews and more — every business day. A proud tradition since 2009.

About Bill Kopp
Author, music journalist, historian, collector, and musician. His first book, "Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon," published by Rowman & Littlefield, is available now. Follow me @the_musoscribe

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