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Desert Companion

2017 Fall Culture Guide: Music

_omar_sosa_6_-_photo_by_massimo_mantovani.jpg

Omar Sosa
Courtesy of The Smith Center

Omar Sosa

Food, festivals & Family | Music | Theater &  Dance | Literature and Ideas | Visual Arts

{September 8

Sonic shapeshifter

There’s really no genre label that handily applies to guitar artist Kaki King. Her astounding virtuosity and voracious musical curiosity have steered her career on a winding path that’s brushed against categories such as indie singer-songwriter, postmodern classical guitar, deconstructed bluegrass, tone poems and ambient experimental. “The guitar is a shapeshifter,” King has said — a description perfectly suited to the artist as well as her instrument. (AK) 7:30p, Historic Fifth Street School, $12.50-$25, 702-229-2787

 

{September 15

On the other side of the mic

Emely Lotfe is a TV personality and radio host who’s often holding an interview mic at red-carpet events, but the Mexican musical artist is also a worthy subject as well: She herself is a versatile and accomplished singer. At this concert, Lotfe will sing songs that celebrate her Hispanic heritage, and discuss that rich heritage as well. (AK) 7p, Whitney Library, free, 702-507-4010

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{September 25

Wand magic

L.A.-based Wand’s epic, operatically hooky wall-of-fuzz sound should play well at The Bunkhouse. Between the venue’s potent sound system and intimate space, imagine a Pandora’s box of ethereal arena garage-rock that never opens, but instead sucks you inside. (AK) 8p, Bunkhouse Saloon, $10, bunkhousedowntown.com

 

{September 28

Pick it up, pick it up

Like all U.S. adults, you’ve no doubt played in a short-lived novelty ska band, and you look back upon those years with a mix of affection and embarrassment, and you half-wonder whether ska is still a thing. Yes, and then some! Mexico City’s Panteon Rococo is one of the global ska movement’s standardbearers, blending punk, funk, salsa and mestizo. Favoring solid grooves and woke lyrics over spazz and silliness, Panteon Rococo is what your ska band could have been if you hadn’t written it off as a phase. Opening act: Raskahuele. (AK) 7p, House of Blues, $40, houseofblues.com

 

{October 6

French lessons

Las Vegas’ own Sylvie Boisel is a fine interpreter of such iconic French singers as Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier. But Boisel is nothing if not versatile: In her show, “I Love Paris,” the longtime Vegas-based chanteuse will also sing some American jazz classics, proving that music truly is a universal language. (AK) 7:30p, West Charleston Library, free, 702-507-3940 (Also performing 2p Oct. 7, Clark County Library, free, 702-507-3400)

 

{October 12

The folking truth

Father John Misty’s yearning, spacey folk-rock is great just as yearning, spacey folk-rock — but an added pleasure are the barbs and fangs hidden amid all the seeming soulful earnestness. “Bedding Taylor Swift/ Every night inside the Oculus Rift/ After mister and the missus finish dinner and the dishes,” he sings on “Total Entertainment Forever.” Late-stage techno-capitalism, you just got buuurned! Opening act: Weyes Blood. (AK) 8p, Brooklyn Bowl, $37.50-$65, brooklynbowl.com

 

{October 12

Rollerskates and short-shorts optional

We live in a troubled times, prisoners of an angry orangutan with a Twitter account and a merciless backlog of Netflix shows we’ll never catch up on. If, like most people, your impulse is to turn to the internet and anonymously troll commenters on Slate.com, I have a better idea: Hug it out with a night of purgative rollerskate anthems by the First Ladies of Disco, composed of Martha Walsh, Linda Clifford and Evelyn King. The iconic disco/R&B/pop singers will perform classic ’70s tunes, as well as original ensemble work. (AK) 7p, Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center, $45-$79, thesmithcenter.com

 

{October 13-14

Give them a hand

Omar Sosa defines the backbone of his custom blend of Afro-Cuban jazz not in any instrument or musical idea, but in the human body: the hand-clap. You’ll hear why at his Las Vegas debut with his Quarteto AfroCubano, where they’ll perform ballads and scorchers alike that fuse jazz, world beat, hip-hop, electronic, and more. (AK) 7p, Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center, $45-$79, thesmithcenter.com

 

{October 14

Fall for this music

It’s October, and you know what that means — a nip in the air, tricks and treats, and, of course, a resurgent awareness of Austro-German Romanticism. In its second concert of the 2017 season, The Las Vegas Philharmonic conducted by Donato Cabrera presents “Oktoberfest,” celebrating some of the more gusty, lusty works of Beethoven, Mozart and Bruckner. Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, Opus 62, is a dramatic musical depiction of an imagined invasion of Rome; Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622 features clarinet soloist Cory Tiffin in a work that is emotionally lighter, but no less vigorous; and Bruckner’s complex and colorful Symphony No. 1 in C Minor completes the bill. Bruckner gave his composition the blithe nickname “the saucy maid” — perhaps deceptively, given that Bruckner obsessively wrote and rewrote what would be his debut symphony. (AK) 7:30p, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, $30-$109, lvphil.org

 

{October 20

Word up

If you haven’t checked in with hip-hop for a while, here’s a quick update: OMG it’s become insanely protean, dynamic and absorptive! Run the Jewels is at the vanguard, dusting off classic hip-hop conventions — sweet beats, hot zwerps, layered production — and infusing them with a smart, urgent musicality that’s fresh in all senses of the word. Opening act: Denzel Curry. (AK) 8p, Brooklyn Bowl, $35-$55, brooklynbowl.com

 

{October 21

A literal sister act

They got their start as a breakout act in a fateful Calgary battle of the bands competition. Today, they’re a global power-disco juggernaut. But Tegan and Sara still do one thing really well — write thinky, high-octane pop inspirationals that make you feel like you’re in an uplifting movie montage: Here you are, dangling keys to a new apartment, kissing on a park bench, moving into the corner office, presenting a perfect lobster thermidor, tack-welding a joint on a roll cage, rescuing a baby giraffe from a volcano. You go! (AK) 8p, The Pearl at the Palms, $36-$143, palms.com

 

{October 21

The Pixies are still good

No no no no no Andrew don’t you write some knee-jerk dismissive cynical blurb about The Pixies being so old they’re officially a cover band of themselves — no no no because you logged onto Spotify and saw that, wha?, they came out with new albums in both 2014 (Indie Cindy) and 2016 (Head Carrier), thereby ripping the cheap-shot premise right out of your blurb. So instead why don’t you write about how you checked out both those albums and, hey, no slouching here, Pixies still got that reckless and zany yet at the same time unerring and trustworthy tunefulness that made you play Surfer Rosa back in the day until the tape broke. Opening act: Mitski. (AK) 7p, The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan, $25-$65, cosmopolitanlasvegas.com

 

{October 21

That thing you doo doo doo da doo

There’s probably not a catchier breakup song than “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” penned by Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash for singer-songwriter/girlfriend Judy Collins (she left him for Stacy Keach). Well, its upbeat, smiling-while-sobbing infectiousness finally worked: They’re getting back together. In this concert, the two will not only pull from their own rich catalogs, from “Love the One You’re With” to “Send in the Clowns,” but perform work from their new collaborative album. (AK) 7:30p, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, $35-$115, thesmithcenter.com

 

{October 24

Melody

Satisfying your Sweets tooth

Singer, burlesque personality and time-traveling sexybomb Melody Sweets brings classic cabaret stylings with a kinky modern edge to her show. Expect an evening of sophisticated decadence, loads of sex appeal and classic and original tunes from an amazing voice. (AK) 9:30p, Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center, $20-$45, thesmithcenter.com

 

{October 27

Guided for the perplexed

Over a 30-year career, Guided By Voices, and its creative and spiritual leader, Robert Pollard, have run resolutely against the commercial tides that have shaped popular music — and they’ve done it with fuzzy hooks and burred jangle that have become their sonic signature. Wear nice shoes — because you’ll be gazing at them a lot. (AK) 8p, Bunkhouse Saloon, $30-$35, bunkhousedowntown.com

 

{November 4

Arriba, bravo and encore!

Pleasure, passion and politics are on tap for the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s “Copland in Mexico” concert. Copland’s populist ideals and omnivorous musical tastes took his material in many directions, and his Latin and Western-inflected work is among some of his most exciting. Conducted by Donato Cabrera, the Las Vegas Philharmonic will perform selections from Copland’s “Rodeo,” as well as work by Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas. (AK) 7:30p, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, $30-$109, lvphil.org

 

{November 22-26

Raise your bacon martini!

The Double Down Saloon — that beloved dive dealing in ear-scouring punk rock, cheap drinks and a spirit of genial mayhem — turns 25 this year. The home of Ass Juice and bacon martinis celebrates with a five-day bash; the lineup includes local faves like Dirk Vermin and legends like The Dickies. (AK) Various times, Double Down Saloon, free, doubledownsaloon.com

 

{November 29

Locals get original

Ever wonder what all those mega-talented Strip entertainers — the singers, songwriters, guitarists, drummers, keyboardists — do in their spare time? They write and perform mind-blowing original work. And the place to get a peek into their creative lives is at Composers Showcase, an often-bawdy cabaret-style talent showcase. (AK) 10:30p, Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center, $20-$25, thesmithcenter.com

 

{December 1

Globetrotting guitars

The Montreal Guitar Trio is much more eclectic than its name implies. The restlessly curious group is known for celebrating numerous musical traditions with its instrument of choice. Case in point: The trio’s most recent album, Danzas, is a celebration and exploration of Spanish guitar. (AK) 7:30p, UNLV’s Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center, $45, unlv.edu/pac

 

{December 2

A Handel on the holidays

We associate Handel’s grand, sweeping Messiah with the holiday season, but it was originally a staple of Easter. However, its slide toward December is perhaps not accidental. Handel was a man of legendary appetite, but his generosity was outsized, too: He donated a portion of the profits from the debut of Messiah to a debtor’s prison and a hospital in Dublin, and Messiah eventually became a centerpiece of his annual holiday charity concert for London’s Foundling Hospital. In this concert, the Las Vegas Philharmonic will perform Part I, as well as selections from Francesco Manfredini, Dieterich Buxtehude, Arcangelo Corelli — a veritable baroque confection of classical music. (AK) 7:30p, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, $30-$109, lvphil.org

 

{December 14

You’re dancing, you’re crying

If you could bottle the strange and heady elixir that is prom-night heartbreak and hope, you’d have The Drums. The brainchild of Jonny Pierce, The Drums’ jangly, upbeat sadcore recalls the pop melancholia of The Smiths, The Housemartins, maybe Joy Division on a rare sunny day. Go ahead, dance like nobody’s watching … watching you cry, that is. Opening act: Hoops. (AK) 8p, Brooklyn Bowl, $17-$20, brooklynbowl.com

 

I SENSE A THEME

Highbrow, lowbrow, popular, traditional — such distinctions don’t apply in our mashup-crazed moment. These artists blend metal, pop, rock and classical.

 

Taylor DavisSeptember 29

Pop goes the violin

Taylor Davis is a violin virtuoso and classical music sensation who knows how to connect with the YouTube generation: For instance, by dressing up a Sith lord and ripping out a searing rendition of Star War’s “The Imperial March” to millions of views. Davis, a composer and self-professed nerd, melds her talent with a hearty appreciation of pop culture to make violin strong with The Force again. (AK) 7:30p, UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall, $20-$50, unlv.edu/pac

 

October 1

Enter Sandman, adagio

You may know Apocalyptica as “Hey, isn’t that the band that does Metallica covers with cellos?,” but they’re so much more than that. Writing and performing original music since 1998, the Helsinki-based band has since defined and occupied a niche of its own, and — bonus — now features Vegas’ favorite son Franky Perez as their lead singer. On this tour, they’ll focus on work from their breakout 1996 debut, Plays Metallica By Four Cellos. (AK) 8p, The Joint at the Hard Rock, $33-$85, hardrockhotel.com

 

December 3

Classic rock gets classically rocked

The sweep and majesty of iconic rock hits of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen and more get a symphonic fuel injection at “Symphonic Rockshow Presents: Roll Over, Beethoven.” Led by local singer/producer Brody Dolyniuk, a rock band backed by a classical symphony kicks some timeless tunes to 11. Devil horns encouraged early and often. (AK) 7p, Reynolds Hall in The Smith Center, $29-$75, the smithcenter.com

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