Live Music Picks: Jan. 31-Feb. 6 | Music Picks | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

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Live Music Picks: Jan. 31-Feb. 6

Casual, Z-Man, DJ True Justice, Marty Stuart, Mozes & The Firstborn, The Districts, and more

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JONATHAN OWENS
  • Jonathan Owens

THURSDAY 1/31
Casual, Z-Man, DJ True Justice, Vocab Slick, Fokis, Save 1, Swelly, Zac Ivie, AU, DJ Mixter Mike

Oakland native Jonathan "Casual" Owens is credited with co-founding the West Coast's answer to Wu-Tang Clan: the underground legends known as Hieroglyphics. Lesser MCs would shudder at the idea of teaming up with such a talented group of voices, but not Casual, who used his unique wordplay, rugged beats and irreverent attitude toward his competitors to carve out a classic major label solo debut, 1993's Fear Itself. The brash, battle rap-inspired project was a stark contrast to the light-hearted lyrics and smooth beats of Souls of Mischief, another offshoot of the popular Hieroglyphics crew. Although Casual hasn't charted since Fear Itself's release 26 years ago, he's stayed busy with guest spots on his crewmates' albums and collaborations with peers from other camps. Casual has worked with Planet Asia, Copywrite, Zion I & The Grouch, Jake One, Swollen Members, Goapele, Sean Price and Everlast, proving that his presence is respected far away from his old stomping grounds in sunny California, even without much commercial recognition. Rapping isn't the only thing Casual is into: He recently launched a production company called Wetworks Films and dabbled in cryptocurrency, creating the "Hiero Coin." Casual blows through Salt Lake City at the tail end of January on the 5th Annual Slap Frost Tour, with a loaded bill featuring nationally acclaimed rappers Z-Man, DJ True Justice, Vocab Slick, Fokis, Save 1 and Swelly, as well as Utah's very own Zac Ivie, AU and DJ Mixter Mike. With Jack Frost slapping Salt Lake Valley down with winter cold and feet of snow these days, this concert will buck the trend and provide a warm welcome to our friends from the West. (Keith L. McDonald) Metro Music Hall, 615 W. 100 South, 9 p.m., $5-$15; 21+, metromusichall.com

ALYSSE GAFKJEN
  • Alysse Gafkjen

FRIDAY 2/1
Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, The Hollering Pines

Although he's just 60 years old, Mississippi native Marty Stuart plays Americana music like he's 90, continuing an unbroken tradition of showmanship and reverence that stretches back to titans like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Lester Flatt and Ralph Stanley. Mixing bluegrass, honky-tonk and traditional country is nothing new in 2019, but back in the late '60s, when Stuart got his start at the tender age of 10, it was downright revolutionary, shunning the rock 'n' roll trend in favor of history and ritual passed down through the ages. Stuart hit all the early milestones, appearing on Hee Haw and joining Johnny Cash's backup band. He even married Cash's daughter, Cindy, in 1983, putting him squarely in the fold with one of the greatest Southern music families of all time (Johnny's wife, June Carter Cash, was the daughter of gospel icon A.P. Carter, whose brogan now rests in Stuart's possession, along with a treasure trove of other country memorabilia). By the mid '80s, Stuart was considered a leading member of Nashville's new breed of trad-country radicals. He signed record deals with Columbia, MCA and Decca and scored top-10 duets with Travis Tritt, but the unblazed path still called. Stuart's own Superlatone Records specializes in forgotten roots and blues albums, while his work on Porter Wagoner's final album, 2007's Wagonmaster, garnered attention for reviving the career of an original rhinestone cowboy. Today, Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives live up to their name, whipping up 100 years of American music history into a delectable, danceable hybrid blend that feels both fresh and timeless. (Nick McGregor) The State Room, 638 S. State, 8 p.m., $50 general admission sold out at press time; $195 VIP admission, 21+, thestateroom.com

RICK HELDERMAN
  • Rick Helderman

Mozes & The Firstborn, The Parrots, Billy Changer
Dutch quartet Mozes & The Firstborn might sound biblically motivated, but their skewed take on grunge rock and power pop is more indebted to the sumptuous sleaze of T. Rex and the ironic profligacy of Guided by Voices. First breaking through in North America thanks to those slacker saints at Burger Records, Melle Dielesen, Corto Blommaert, Raven Aartsen and Ernst-Jan van Doorn have since elevated their profile on tours with stateside garage rock heroes like The Growlers and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. But 2019 album Dadcore, the band's third full-length, makes its own statement with blistering glam rock and sonic fuzz, pieced together by producers Chris Coady (of Beach House fame) and Roland Cosio. Extending the international flavor on Friday are Spanish folk-rockers The Parrots, who combine tender acoustic jams with sweaty punk energy to hit the perfect spot of what they call "that genius-stupidity of all ace garage rock bands ... sunbaked stoner elation [and] a gleeful mangling of the English language." As frontman Diego Garcia admits, "Everybody gets motivated when they see us play." Here's to a rowdy night. (NM) Kilby Court, 741 S. Kilby Court, 7 p.m., $10, all ages, kilbycourt.com

CAITLIN MCCANN
  • Caitlin McCann

SATURDAY 2/2
The Districts, Deeper

No young punk band has changed more drastically than Pennsylvania's The Districts, who started in high school with standard-issue emo ballads before metamorphosing over multiple releases into anthemic, avant-garde specialists. Frontman Rob Grote sings with a wounded air of isolation and abandonment, but his understanding of loneliness can turn on a dime, lunging on most recent album Popular Manipulations from tortured to life-affirming with the turn of a phrase. Bassist Connor Jacobus, drummer Braden Lawrence and guitarist Pat Cassidy add layers of inscrutable context, pulling from the often-overlooked work of mid-2000s rock by Wolf Parade and The Diableros. But at its heart, The Districts' music is raw and direct, digging in to the human condition with startling insight and agitation. Opening is Chicago quartet Deeper, who bring their intricate instrumental interplay and post-punk propulsion on the road to the West Coast for the first time ever. (NM) The Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, 8 p.m., $14 advance; $16 day of show, 21+, theurbanloungeslc.com

ALYSSE GAFKJEN
  • Alysse Gafkjen

MONDAY 2/4
Guster, Henry Jamison

Guster is another tough act to pin down. Starting in the early '90s in Boston's prolific coffeehouse scene, they eventually latched on to the regional explosion of jam bands like moe., Widespread Panic, Phish and The Disco Biscuits. Their first big single, 1999's "Fa Fa," inexplicably earned traction on the adult contemporary charts, but it alienated Guster from its more underground peers. That was fine by Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner, Brian Rosenworcel and Joe Pisapia, however, who embraced their eccentric streak by adding layers of jazz-inspired percussion to otherwise standard alt-rock songs and creating memorable on-stage moments. They have fans throw Ping-Pong balls on stage during "Airport Song"; they open their own shows in costume as the Peace Soldiers and Trippin' Balls; they play the theme song from The Price Is Right during introductions. But don't let that history distract from the fact that Guster has built up a devoted fan base over nearly 30 years in the game, with New Englanders particulary in thrall to them. The same goes for new album Look Alive, which was recorded in a vintage keyboard museum in Calgary during the winter, adding an icy, synthesized sheen to the band's sparkling pop-rock. Arrive early for Vermont's Henry Jamison, whose incisive folk music takes aim at the toxic masculinity of the 21st century. (NM) The Depot, 13 N. 400 West, 7 p.m., $30, all ages, depotslc.com

DARREN CRAIG
  • Darren Craig

MONDAY 2/4
LP, Yoke Lore

Laura Pergolizzi's far-reaching success is borne of frustration. While her career as a songwriter for Cher, Rihanna and Christina Aguilera flourished in the late 2000s, Pergolizzi's solo work as LP was left for dead multiple times. She famously played her brooding, big-tent single "Lost on You" for a Warner Music Group executive mere weeks before he dropped her; the song went on to become a No. 1 hit in Greece, Russia, Poland and 10 other European countries, with 233 million YouTube views to date. Yet LP, pictured, is decidedly American, a singular product of her New York upbringing and Los Angeles home. A little bit chain-smoking Lou Reed and a little bit ukulele-playing pop polymath, tortured romanticism is what the 37-year-old does best. And that's not different from the way things started back in 2001, when LP kicked off her career with debut album Heart-Shaped Scar. But 2018's Heart to Mouth—which hit No. 2 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart—expands upon that downcast template with songs that feel arena-ready and intimate, all at once. Those years of struggle seem like they paid off: "Each person has to discover what makes youyou," she told the New Statesman in December 2018. "How you're going to get through, what you're going to hold on to, what you're going to strip away and uncover in yourself. Would you rather hit it right away, but with a song that you weren't behind, with an image you didn't really like? Or would you rather wait a little bit longer and have the song that defines you, have a look that speaks to you?" (Nick McGregor) The Union Event Center, 235 N. 500 West, 8 p.m., $25-$30, all ages, theunioneventcenter.com

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