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To-do list, March 19

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THURSDAY 3/19

 

‘LITTLE SHOP

OF HORRORS'

6 p.m., Murry's Dinner Theater. $25-$30.

 

Maybe there have been stranger trajectories for musical adaptations, but I can't think of one. The camp musical “Little Shop of Horrors,” which opened Wednesday at Murry's Dinner Theater, grew out of a 1960 B-movie from Roger Corman (Jack Nicholson had a small role). In 1982, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman (“Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast”) adapted the cult film into a musical, full of songs inspired by '60s-era rock 'n' roll and soul. The musical, as you might remember from the Frank Oz big-screen adaptation, tweaks a tried-and-true formula: A hapless geek, who works in a plant shop, pines for an attractive co-worker who's dating a bully. The geek discovers a Venus flytrap, which he soon discovers thrives on blood. If that's not enough to pique your interest, a sadist dentist and a Greek chorus modeled on Phil Spector's most famous girl groups figure in, too. The musical runs through April 1. LM.

 

 

PELICAN

7 p.m., Vino's. $10 adv., $12 d.o.s.

 

Pelican get called a lot of names. Post-rock. Instru-metal. Prog. Arty. But none of those, and at least a half dozen other less awful-sounding sub-genres, quite do the trick. In fact, Pelican would probably just as soon you think of it, as the group self-identifies on MySpace, as “other.” Fair enough. But for our purposes, how 'bout some other adjectives? Since debuting, in 2003, on Hydra Head Records, the Chicago quartet has made its name on dense, moody instrumentals that split the difference between Melvins-style sludge and the moody experimentation of, say, Explosions in the Sky. Either way, bring your earplugs. Particularly since the band's new material — its first release for Southern Lord — is apparently heavier, darker and more “riff-oriented,” according to Pelican's Trevor De Brauw. Another Southern Lord act, Wolves in the Throne Room, opens with Tombs. LM.

 

POISON ARROWS/ HEYPENNY/ THE HEAT MACHINE

9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.

 

It's the second of three weeks of bands heading to and from SXSW, and White Water's kicking off the weekend with one of those wildly diverse bills one might've regularly stumbled into at the tavern three or four years ago. From Chicago, the Poison Arrows represent File 13, the Little Rock-born label that's now based in the Windy City. The experimental trio, featuring ex-members of Don Cabellero and Atombombpocketknife, comes to town behind its engagingly discordant recent album, “Casual Wave.” Nashville-based pop rockers Heypenny features two Arkansans, Little Rock native Benjamin Elkins and Fayetteville's D.J. Murphy. The band has a new album, “Parade,” with a hugely catchy single with the same name, but it seems to be available only in the UK at the moment. Maybe the band will have some imports on hand. From Nebraska, the seven-piece band the Heat Machine melds ska, rock and '50s era pop. LM.

 

 

FRAMING HANLEY

9 p.m., Juanita's, $10 adv., $12 d.o.s. 

 

This five-piece, post-hardcore act from Nashville comes complete with heavy radio rotation and trendy haircuts. Supporting 2007's debut, “The Moment,” which includes the single “Hear Me Now,” these homemade heartthrobs re-released the same album, “Deluxe Edition,” last year, which includes a metal-hop infused cover of Lil' Wayne's “Lollipop,” complete with catch-phrase “Call me so I can make it juicy for ya.” But they do, however, score some diversity points. On a completely different spectrum, the “lonely-at-night, I'll-hold-you-again” power ballad “Alone in This Bed” will probably get lighters raised high. The band name, kind of a head-scratcher, does, however, have a sentimental origin deserving mention. Through late 2006, the crew went by Embers Fade, until the drummer's fiancee, Ashley Hanley, who once served as the band's photographer, passed away. So take the picture “framing” and her last name and you have a band titled in her honor. Canadian alt-rockers the Veer Union, whose singer collaborated on Tommy Lee's “Tommyland: The Ride” album, and Memphis' soul-pop-punksters Sore Eyes open the 18-and-up show. PP

 

 

SATURDAY 3/21

 

8BALL AND MJG

9 p.m., Revolution. $20 adv.

 

You probably haven't heard them on the radio lately. They're not often featured in big magazine profiles. Or on BET or MTV. But around these parts, and probably most of the South, few rappers are held in the same esteem as Memphis' 8ball and MJG. The duo's 1993 debut on Suave House, “Comin' Out Hard,” established the model for much of Southern rap that's followed. In the 15 years that's followed, the duo has released nine more albums, lately with Bad Boy. In 2005, the group featured on Three Six Mafia's smash “Stay Fly.” In anticipation of its next release, likely due later this year, 8ball and MJG signed with T.I.'s Grand Hustle imprint. Look for more live instrumentation — you know, that space age-funk — on the forthcoming album, according to 8ball. You can read a Q&A with the rapper on Rock Candy. Local standouts Epiphany and Gina Gee, Suga City and g-force open the show. LM.

 

 

BLACK STONE CHERRY

8 p.m., the Village. $10 adv., $12 d.o.s.

 

In its first club show after two or three high profile local gigs in recent years, Black Stone Cherry continues to mine what seems to be an endlessly winning formula in these parts: The band blends post-grunge sensibilities with big Southern rock riffs. Since forming in 2001, the band's amassed an impressive resume. It's toured with the likes of Hinder, Sevendust, Def Leppard and Whitesnake. Its songs, most often the single “Lonely Train,” have been used in television and movies, mostly wrestling and ultimate fighting soundtracks. The Kentucky rockers come to town fresh from SXSW, still touring behind last year's anthemic “Folklore and Superstition.” It'll mark the first of the band's three performances in Arkansas. On Monday, it plays George's in Fayetteville and Tuesday heads to the Lyric Theater in Harrison. LM

 

 

TUESDAY 3/24

 

TIGERCITY

9 p.m., Juanita's. $7.

 

Riding the fairly recent electro-pop zeitgeist that draws inspiration equally from Hall and Oates and Roxy Music, Tigercity come to town post-SXSW (of course!) with sparkly dance-floor-anthems-in-the-making about sporting fake gold jewelry and heartbreak. You'll be impressed with hirsute lead singer Bill Gillim's ability to work his upper register. The four-piece comes to town behind tracks from a not-yet-released full-length, recorded with producer Chuck Brody (American Princes). St. Leroy and the Martyrs open. LM.

 

 

THE PACK A.D.

9 p.m., White Water Tavern, $5.

 

Jeez Louise. Only 17 seconds into a virgin listening of the criminally-tight East Vancouver bombshell duo the Pack A.D. I wept tears of gratitude. Take the bare-bones two-person lineup and throw in North Mississippi Hill country guitar crunch, the wailing, plaintive moans (not screams) of Robert Plant, Grace Slick, Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin, and a double shot of old-growth, hickory-smoked drumming and you've got singer/guitarist Becky Black and drummer Maya Millers. With two albums, both released  in 2008 (“Tintype” and “Funeral Mixtape”), these gals hammer out no-bullshit garage/blues rock with all the homage and originality it takes to be certifiably legit. Having jammed the entire North American continent and some of South America as well as Europe, the Pack is back on the road following its SXSW run before returning home to record a third album. They will turn Tuesday night into a Saturday night from the moment they hit the stage. And don't expect “Wang Dang Doodle.” PP

 

 

WEDNESDAY 3/25

 

JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT

9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $10 adv., $12 d.o.s.

 

Even though he's got two solo albums under his belt and two years have passed, Jason Isbell is still probably best remembered as a former guitarist/singer/songwriter with Southern rock heroes the Drive-By Truckers. His split with the band was, by all accounts, amicable. Isbell just wanted to do his own thing. His first two records, “Sirens of the Ditch” and his recent eponymous album, credited to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, both suggest he made the right move. Each features literate songwriting that meditates on grand themes like war, small towns and women. Isbell typically uses his rich baritone in country-rock arrangements, but the Alabama native (just outside of Muscle Shoals) knows a thing or two about blue-eyed soul, too. At the band's first Sticky Fingerz show it even launched into an impressively spot-on cover of Joy Division's “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” How's that for range? Steve's son, Justin Townes Earle, opens. LM.

 

 

 

 

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