Ukulele-nauts, soul singers, Swedish stoners

I’M SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING getting a room at the Cosmopolitan for this entire week since three of my favorite singers are performing there consecutively. Every week, the Cosmo books incredible artists, but now they’ve outdone themselves by booking three remarkable artists (who happen to be—sorry for noticing—way hot).

Piano-banging alt-rock songstress Rachael Yamagata plays Book & Stage at 10 p.m. and midnight March 8 and at 10:30 p.m. March 9-10. If you haven’t heard any of her albums, start with the first one, her 2004 debut Happenstance. The dramatic, emotionally wrenching single from that album, “Worn Me Down,” wields the kind of melancholy buoyancy of which I can never get enough. I saw her tour in support of this underestimated record years ago on a weird bill with Patrick Park and Liz Phair at House of Blues, and she was and is amazing. Yamagata’s two subsequent efforts, 2008’s ElephantsTeeth Sinking Into Heart and last year’s Chesapeake are equally compelling. Flat-out, she’s a singer/songwriter of the highest order.

Just before and after Yamagata’s sets, you should follow me over to the Chandelier, the cascading three-level bar inside the Cosmo, where I plan to get my heart microwaved by Leftover Cuties at 9 and 11 p.m. March 8-10. This ukulele-powered jazz-pop band falls somewhere between Billie Holiday and Squirrel Nut Zippers (minus the ironic cheese). As a metalhead, I can’t tell you how much the ukulele-covers trend (Amanda Palmer, Eddie Vedder, etc.) makes me want to hurl. But this isn’t a tribute team (though they perform plenty of covers, such as Regina Spektor’s “Fidelity”); rather the Cuties are a real combo of musicians who write original and unforgettable tunes such as “Game Called Life” (theme song for Showtime’s The Big C). Singer Shirli McAllen is going to take your breath away, just like she does mine.

Finally, the new kid on this particular block of weeklong Cosmo performances is R&B up-and-comer Krys Wright, who plays Book & Stage at 10:30 p.m. March 13-15. I really don’t know much about her other than her military-brat bio and recent pop-soul single “Too Late,” a breakup song to end all breakup songs. Her Metro Lovers EP dropped last fall, and this is a chance to catch Wright before she blows up and we have to spend a hundred bucks to see her in a giant arena. Damn, she can sing.

OK, enough about the Cosmo. Off-Strip, there’s a cool show starring, all the way from Sweden, The Quill, a stoner-metal band set to dip into the musical inkwell known as Count’s Vamp’d (6750 W. Sahara Ave.) at 9 p.m. March 14. The Quill is that rare band that appeals to anyone who likes hard rock, from Mötley Crüe to Queens of the Stone Age. These Swedes got their start in the ’90s just as grunge exploded, but they’ve always owed a debt to Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. Horns up!

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Mat Kearney


Mat Kearney

Twenty minutes after showtime, the Oregonian folk-rocker joined his four-piece band as the sold-out crowd jumped to its feet. After the first song, “Fire & Rain,” Kearney asked the crowd if they were awake. Perhaps weary from their long drive to Aliante Station, the crowd seemed slow to energize. But by the fourth song, they had—rising to their feet, clapping their hands and singing along to the lyrics of “Down.” In turn, Kearney ran through the showroom, slapping high-fives and hugging audience members.



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