Don’t you love May? Quivering in anticipation of a summer that will seemingly never come. Clutching an ice-cream cone between frigid, bone-white fingers while children in bright rain ponchos are blown across rain-streaked parks like plastic bags.
2016 was kinder: but as the one hand tooketh Prince and Bowie, the other delivered a gloriously early summer. By contrast, this year is holding back some serious (vitamin) D, and none of us are very happy about it. While we wait for summer to get its act together we at least have a host of banging music nights to remind us that life – even a rickety, sunless one – is still worth living.
Apparently, this guide is also brought to you by Brian Eno.
‘May the fourth be with you,’ says the internet. What better way to celebrate the most meme-able day of the month than with our very own master Jedi, Jonny Tiernan in his premiere disco-punk night together with fellow Northern Irishman, SOFAKID. The duo will be spinning scaldingly hot tunes at one of the city’s coolest venues, L.u.X. ‘No cover charge. No closing time. No excuses,’ reads the tagline, so be under no illusion that this is regular school-night fare: your black skinny jeans will be getting the full disco workout until the wee small hours of Friday morning.
Thee Oh Sees + support: Häxxan
May 8th, 19:30
It’s going to be one of the highest octane shows of the month when Californian garage-rockers, Thee Oh Sees hit the Columbia Theater. Ratty bass, wailing vocals, fuzzed-out guitars and no small amount of silliness is the order of the day, with patrons advised to drink at least three quarters of their beer at the bar before jumping into the fray or risk losing it to the mosh pit. Support comes from German band, Häxxan who trade in trebly but compelling retro psychedelia.
The New Pornographers
May 11th, 20:00
Brian Eno said of The Velvet Underground that everyone who bought their first record started a band. It’s true of a lot of albums. The New Pornographers, on the other hand, tend to be so tight, so inventive – so sickeningly catchy – that even contemplating songwriting becomes an act of masochism. If you are able to listen to their sublime power-pop without falling to the floor in a fit of jealousy, then catch them Lido, which should just about fit the parade of members, which includes indie darling and personal hero, Neko Case.
Death Valley Girls (Burger Records / USA) + The Victorious Secrets
May 16th, 21:00
Blistering guitars and vocals that could peel the label off a bottle of Club Mate, Death Valley Girls comes to us from L.A. via the blues and a layover in classic rock. ‘Electric High’ is as high-voltage as the name suggests, while ‘Getting Hard’ has all the sex of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s debut album with none of the boyish posturing. Support comes from Berlin-based, The Victorious Secrets.
Heimspiel #24: Mother of the Unicorn
Alter Roter Löwe Rein
May 18th, 20:30
A Mother of the Unicorn gig is a rare thing these days. As rare as – you might say – a unicorn (we’re sorry). Previously featured in the list of our favourite albums of 2016, Mother of the Unicorn are a local act worth getting behind. Sublime vocals, complex arrangements, and earthy sounds are exposed in this stripped-back, lo-fi set at Alter Roter Löwe Rein, a bar that appears part saloon, part working man’s club. Set to be an intimate, heart-toasting night.
Musik & Frieden
May 22nd, 20:00
Everyone’s ‘drug buddy’ from gods of nineties alternative rock, Evan Dando comes to Musik & Frieden to help us relive the days of shuffle-footed grunge (badly fitting plaid shirts optional). 2003’s Baby I’m Bored remains one of the most earnest indie/Americana records of the era, with Dando crooning, ‘Honey, it looks like you have some explaining to do,’ across Discmans and teenage bedrooms from Boston to Bonn. Catching him in this smallish venue is a sweet coup for fans.
Angel Olsen, support: Tim Darcy
May 26th, 20:00
Despite being a mainstay of festivals and independent radio since her 2012 psych folk release, Half Way Home, Chicago-based Angel Olsen exploded into popularity with last year’s single, ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’. Lifted from her third studio album, My Woman, ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’ is an admittedly wonderful scratch on the surface of Olsen’s tender, painful, and deeply human body of work. Support comes from Canadian-born singer-songwriter, Tim Darcy.
Kesselhaus & Maschinenhaus (Kulturbrauerei)
May 30th, 20:00
‘My body is a dancefloor,’ sings Sónia Tavares on the galloping pop-hit ‘Clinic Hope’. Joyous, nostalgic and cinematic by turns, if you don’t play the keyboard solo on repeat while smiling stupidly to yourself then you’re dead inside. Having collaborated with Brian Eno, there’s more to this massive Portuguese outfit than soaring pop numbers though. ‘Love Without Violins’ is pure sex with synths.
Huxley’s Neue Welt
May 31st, 20:00
While Gurr gives The Jam frontman a run for his money in the ‘who wore it best’ stakes of polo shirts and mod-inspired fringes, there’s nobody quite like Weller and his perennial cool. Legends often fall into the trap of tired shows and phoned-in performances, but Weller doesn’t disappoint. His set super-charged with the boons of being in the business as long as he has: a rich back-catalogue, seasoned cool, and a backing band as tight as a nice Ben Sherman shirt.
May 31st 21:00
If you’d rather celebrate the new order of rock and get down and dirty with some feminist punk, The Coathangers show at Cassiopeia is where you want to be. Simple drums that verge on the bratty and gorgeously tattered vocals, The Coathangers have more in common with the Ramones than band-themed surnames (‘Rusty Coathanger’ being our favourite). Party callbacks and guitars that roar to life with each chorus, screaming along to The Coathangers’ fearless brand of old-school punk is about as good an antidote for Trump’s first year as we can imagine.