Three can’t-miss concerts for July
GLAM, BAM, THANK YOU, MA’AM
The Flaming Lips with the Claypool Lennon Delirium
Saturday, July 27 at Artpark
450 S. 4th St., Lewiston
While none of the key players making up these two fabulous furry freakshows are exactly strangers to our area (in fact, a mid-80s Buffalo appearance by the Flaming Lips played a crucial role in the band’s early history), we’ve never had an opportunity to see them share a bill. Picture a Mount Rushmore of latter-day psychedelia, featuring Les Claypool of Primus, Sean Lennon (forever building on both his famous parents’ legacies with every innovative project he takes on), and the core members of the Lips. The latter group has been on a retrospective kick lately, releasing giant boxed sets of past recordings alongside tidier hits-and-rarities collections; expect to hear plenty from their landmark 1999 album The Soft Bulletin on its twentieth anniversary. Never ones to rest on their laurels, though, Wayne Coyne and company have also been hard at work on a sprawling new project called King’s Mouth, which so far includes an art installation, a book, and an album—all of which bode well for a new batch of mind-bending visuals in the stage show.
Thursday, July 25 at Canalside
44 Prime Street
Lead singer Luke Spiller fronts The Struts playing live at The Fillmore in 2016.
If the recent biopics Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman have you jonesing for over-the-top musical giants like Freddie Mercury and Elton John, you could shell out a few bucks to see one of the many, many cover bands out there who slavishly reconstruct acts like theirs. Or, you could head to the waterfront this month, where flamboyant frontman Luke Spiller and his mates will be doing their best to channel the glory of glam through—wonder of wonders!—material they actually wrote themselves. Sure, we’ve seen other seventies throwbacks over the years (looking at you, Scissor Sisters, the Darkness, and, ahem, Greta Von Fleet), but the Struts is in a league of its own. For one thing, the band is remarkably good at crafting brand-new songs that sound like vintage hits and forty-year-old deep cuts you’ve simply forgotten, while absorbing more recent developments in dance music. The na-na-na choruses, the miles-deep bass lines, the cigarette-lighter-ready power ballads, the oh-so-British lyrical wit: It’s all here, and it’s an awful lot of fun, whether you’re a Boomer in search of flashbacks or a Millennial discovering the thrills of this deliciously campy genre for the very first time.
Our Native Daughters
Thursday, July 25 at the Chautauqua Institution
31 Roberts Avenue, Mayville
This being the Best of WNY issue and all, I’m just going to point out that I second the pick for Rhiannon Giddens’s visit to Asbury Hall as not just the best concert of 2018 but a serious contender for cultural event of the year in any medium: one part joyous celebration, one part sober history lesson, one part showcase of jaw-dropping musical talent. (The band through which Giddens first came to widespread attention—the Carolina Chocolate Drops—also played the venue a few years before.) The MacArthur “Genius” grantee showed up at Chautauqua several months later with a completely different performance—music for a new ballet—in collaboration with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi. This month, she returns to the Institution in yet another configuration: alongside fellow African-American banjo virtuosos Allison Russell, Leyla McCalla, and Amythyst Kiah as a member of the new group Our Native Daughters, who, in the words of one NPR reviewer, “have not only been called upon to deliver compelling performances, but also to explain their connection to string-band lineages falsely presumed to be the historic domain of white men.” (For more on that misperception, seek out the profile of Giddens in the May 20 New Yorker.) If their debut album is any indication of the live show, audiences will once again be dividing their time between dancing in their seats, bawling their eyes out at tales of unspeakable suffering, and marveling at the talent assembled onstage. And this magazine will have another serious contender for next year’s awards.