It was not that it was just summer. That’s not a valid excuse. It has been the case for a while. You know, the lack of the number of original bands for me, as a audience member, to pick and chose on the big nights of the weekend: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. (Yes, dammit, Thursday is a weekend day. Look that shit up.)
Well, I’ve beaten that horse ‘till he’s dead and putrid. Though alas, it seems as though things are picking up, at least for this weekend. How long will it last? Maybe a while. We’ll see.
Start with tonight (Thursday). While there’s only one show that’s a big standout, it’s promising enough: Green Bar presents Alabama Garage Fest featuring Alabama’s own Nightmare Boyzzz and Holy Youth. (Do the Muscle Shoals and Birmingham areas constitute “local”? More on that later.) Those two aren’t the only bands on the bill; for a mere five dollars, a person gets to see five garage-rock bands. If you’re horrible at math, that’s, like, 98 cents per band. Or something.
The standout band on the bill, or maybe the one that I can actually vouch for, is The Nightmare Boyzzz. They’re not as ridiculous of a band as the spelling suggests. Behind the noise of their garage punk are some tightly-woven melodies that stick with you. Not bad at all really.
Then Friday night is an early one. If you want to start off slow, more quiet, and earlier than Thursday, there’s the special Acoustic Night at the Bama Theatre, not usually held on Fridays. The show brings The Bear, Some Dark Holler, and Blaine Duncan (sans Lookers) together around 7:00 P.M. The Bear is simply an undefinable knock-out punch of great songwriting and beautiful harmonies that isn’t so shiny that it doesn’t haunt you a bit. Some Dark Holler are, for the most part, a guy and gal duo — he plays guitar, she plays fiddle. Together, Some Dark Holler tell dark tales in the vein of Steve Earle’s mid-career work but even more grimy. Blaine Duncan is actually the first Tuscaloosa original musician I’ve mentioned, and he closes out the night at the Bama Theatre. The best thing about seeing Duncan solo is getting to hear the catchy tunes as they probably began: just him, a guitar, and possibly a bit of harmonica. It’s interesting, too, to see how his songs change in meaning and sound when performed without his backing band. He’s quite liable to twist and turn the songs until you don’t recognize them until a few measures into it. This show’s totally worth the time and money.
But, that’s not all! Not even on the same night! After that, go see Austin Lucas, The Banditos, and Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires. Austin Lucas plays solo and brings that high lonesome sound that fans of Doc Dailey will love, some serious guitar picking, and a heathy amount of sad, yet upbeat, songs. The Banditos are strongly gaining attention around Tuscaloosa, and being from Birmingham, that’s ideal for us and them. They have that sloppy, country-rock sound going that’s perfect for a bar. Most audiences tend to agree. If I have to tell you about Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, you may have not been around Tuscaloosa long. That’s fine. It’s one of the best live shows this side of the Dexateens that you’ll see. Plenty of genuine Southern rock — not that shit you first consider as “Southern rock” when the phrase is uttered. You know, that radio rock that you would pay to never hear again. No, Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires stand above a whole lot of bands near and far. Just seems that this band can’t get any tighter than they are now. Pick up their album, too. It’s more subdued, but still the wonder of great rock with meaningful lyrics to boot.
Lastly, you’ll still have it in you by Saturday, won’t you? Then check out the second show of Mary Tylosaur bringing it all back to Egan’s, where most of the bands get their starts.
Mary Tylosaur is the kind of band that I’ve been writing about in my last two columns. Straight from the ashes of D.C. Moon & His Atomic Supermen come this band, and with it being only their second show, it’s early enough to jump on the bandwagon. If it’s anything like D.C. Moon’s previous lineups, it will feature sci-fi punk, amusing lyrics, and excellent musicianship.
There’s still work to do for the town, though. Technically in that list above, there are only two Tuscaloosa original bands/artists. That’s fine. We’ll grow and move along. Until then, we’ll get out there and support and be grateful and enjoy and get worn out.