You don’t often hear it, but Lafayette is a college town. The academic calendar of University of Louisiana at Lafayette dictates the city’s celebratory ebbs and flows. The kids go back to school and they can’t wait to make the weekend. The upshot is natural breaks from social discomfort: when it’s too hot (always) or too cold (never) to party. Come August, the summer swelter just can’t keep us indoors any longer. We’re not going back to school. We’re going back to avoiding it.
Sunday, August 5
Image courtesy of Facebook.com/BeauSoleilCajunBand/
Beau Soleil Avec Michael Doucet
Beau Soleil invented Cajun music, at least as far as the rest of the world is concerned. Yes, it’s an ever-growing tradition that long precedes the band’s success, but Cajun music was hardly an international commodity before Beau Soleil, fronted by renowned fiddler and cultural ambassador Michael Doucet, hit the scene in the late 1970’s. Beau Soleil took a folklore and made it an art form in play on the world’s stage. But for me, I’ll always remember them as the band from my hometown that backed Mary Chapin Carpenter on that other “Twist and Shout” song.
Saturday, August 11
Image courtesy of Facebook.com/TheMikeDillonBand/
Mike Dillon with Mangata and Dreadnought
The Wurst Biergarten
A few years back I caught scuzzy New Orleans percussionist Mike Dillon playing an empty room in Lafayette. He seemed pretty much unfazed by the absence and indifference of whatever crowd was gathered. This is a guy who’s played Ani DiFranco, Galactic and Les Claypool;I’m not sure he could be bothered by anything. A punk spitter by nature, he was self-consumed in the fury of his mallets that whipped a tempest up and down his vibraphone. And then, near the eye of the storm, he coaxed a devastating cover of Elliot Smith’s “Alameda.” He finished. I was broken inside. “That one was for all you hipsters,” he sneered. I’m pretty sure it was in my direction. I was too awed to be offended.
Thursday, Aug 23 and Thursday, August 30
Image courtesy of Facebook.com/NewNativesBrass/
Be Free: New Natives Brass Band
Blue Moon Saloon
Brass bands are more often associated with New Orleans. That’s the walk-the-street groove you hear on Frenchman. The genre is every bit the hodgepodge of second line jazz and funk that you imagine it to be. And, yes, you can wave a towel to it if you want. Over the years, brass band music has pollenated westward, giving ex-band geeks a second life out of high school not limited to moonlighting in a low-rent ska band. The formula is pretty standard: Walking rhythm section, a mess of horns and a party in tow. What separates New Natives Brass Band is the outfit’s commitment to new compositions. More a collective than a band, New Natives is more than capable of blasting crowdpleasers. They perform two free back-to-school events this month. College is gonna be a blast in the face, kids.
Friday August 24
Image courtesy of Facebook.com/formingthevoid/
Forming the Void with Howling Giant, Electric Age, Ole English
Freetown Boom Boom Room
Look, beyond 1980’s Soundgarden, I can’t say I know anything about metal or its dozens of sub-genres: doom metal, black metal, speed metal, death metal, stoner metal, goth metal and so on. (Some of those may not be actual sub-genres of metal.) But years ago a friend explained it to me thusly: You know metal’s good when it makes you laugh. That’s usually the fast stuff: the blast beat, grindcore metal that sounds like opera caught in the cross-fire of combatant machine gun nests. But stoner metal, it sings to me. Lafayette’s Forming the Void is a hybrid of late 70’s witchcraft Black Sabbath, replete with sitar-like bends, and early 90’s grunge. This is the kind of stuff that teeters on self-importance. But check out the video for the band’s latest single “On We Sail” and wait for the Miller Lite and Cheese Puff blood sacrifice. Yeah, Forming the Void is the good kind of metal. Even I know that.