Live Picks: 08.16.2012 – 08.22.2012
08.17: Rotary Downs – d.b.a.
When entrenched in the Austin City Limits spillover that fills local stages during the fall and the South By Southwest, et al runoff that keeps our agenda slammed throughout spring, it is easy to forget how dusty and plodding a New Orleans summer has the propensity to be. This year was made particularly lean by the absence of two notoriously prolific groups, who are mercifully returning to action just as local schedules are beginning to show some signs of life: This weekend, both Felix and greatest band in the universe Rotary Downs return to the New Orleans stage.
After holding their own opening and closing ceremonies for this years Jazz Fest in the form of characteristically epic marathon performances at Le Bon Temps and Circle Bar (respectively), Rotary Downs spent the end of the spring and the beginning of the summer working diligently on their new album, a follow up to the 2010 masterpiece Cracked Maps and Blue Reports that is due out in early 2013. They reappear this Friday on one of their many home courts, the friendly cypress-wrapped confines of d.b.a. that has been the backdrop of some of RD’s most memorable outings.
But just as exciting is the long-awaited return of Felix, whose absence from the scene isn’t quite as easily explained but who, during their periods of high activity, reign as the most fearlessly awesome band in town. On record their songs are rancorous delights that land anywhere from funked-out country-western dirge to bluesy folkabilly rippers, but it is their live act that is truly the stuff of legend. Playing anywhere in town, in any slot on any kind of lineup, the ragtag trio regularly steals the show with an unhinged performance that remains frighteningly dialed in even as the group – most notably lead singer John Curry (equally engaging with his Blind Texas Marlin side/solo project) – descends into brute-force post-punk chaos: Curry growls through heart wrenching and hilarious lyrics in a wide range of physical and emotional postures, keyboardist Thomas Furtado navigates his multi-tiered universe as if he has far more than the standard issue 5 fingers per hand and drummer Adem Van Hull thrashes mercilessly at his well traveled kit and the hodge-podge of auxiliary percussion devices that surround it.
They will be joined at the re-christened Prytania Bar (the constantly evolving haunt formerly known as Cafe Prytania) by Austin’s Sideshow Tragedy and freshly minted local supergroup The Cons and Prose. Saturday will mark just the second show for the new project that brings together lead singer extraordinaire Rik Slave, bassist Al Small of The Blue Party, Sports And Leisure‘s Whitney Brown and Bingo! Show drummer Keith Hajjar.
Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks