Latin(ü)-metal, Jersey thrash, Kentucky tang

The new two-day Downtown fall music festival Life Is Beautiful begins a monthly free music showcase at 8 p.m. February 6 at Artifice. It’s an effort to find top local bands for the fest, which will feature national artists. The first six groups to make a bid are Rusty Maples, American Cream, Same Sex Mary, Coastwest Unrest, Play for Keeps and the Perks. More showcases will be announced. Bands interested in battling for a spot can visit

More cool shows this week: New York post-hardcore quintet Ionia ionizes the sonic atmosphere of Cheyenne Saloon at 10 p.m. February 2. This aggressive and melodic (and mysteriously unsigned) band’s only album to date is 2010’s Moral Hazard. Ionia’s disturbingly compelling song and music video “Mutiny” casts adolescence as a brutal, dilapidated institution where catatonic drugs, violent interrogations and merc-dudes with AR-15s are routine. Also setting Ionia apart is “Gasoline Rainbow,” an acoustic guitar-based, grunge-era ballad. Sharing the bill is Saint Diablo, a Virginia metalcore act that mixes in Latin grooves and Spanish lyrics. Their song “Watch Me Kill” is a menacing mélange of nü-metal hooks, throat-stabbing thrash and moshpit-exploding breakdowns.

Tim Thurtle, who used to do all-ages shows at Area 702 Skate Park, is now booking great bands over at LVCS. Which is why I’m salivating over the list of shows slated in the coming weeks: Angry Samoans (Feb. 9), Soulfly (Feb. 15), Sister Sin (Feb. 24), Nile (March 26). Check out the calendar at

This week, the old-school East Coast thrash-metal scene makes its skull-rattling presence felt when Overkill slays LVCS at 10 p.m. Feb. 3. The New Jersey band took its name from a now-classic Motörhead song way back in 1980 and haven’t let up. Overkill’s most recent CD, The Electric Age (the band’s 16th!), is high-voltage rock that never loses its charge, from the AC/DC-on-crystal-meth stomp of “Wish You Were Dead” to blues-kissed, funk-inflected “Old Wounds, New Scars.” This is one of those rare bands that gets better with age. Vegas’ own Avenger of Blood opens.

Finally, the band with the best name this (or any) week, Nashville Pussy, penetrates LVCS at 10 p.m. February 4. Born to die in a rock ’n’ roll band/Always sounded like a hell of a plan, snarls frontman Blaine Cartwright in the song “From Hell To Texas,” from 2009’s album of the same name. The Pussy’s Skynyrd-crossed-with-Lemmy-mixed-with-Angus-Young attack is impossible to resist, and if you haven’t experienced the band onstage yet, you’re in for a whiskey-drenched, amplifliers-cranked treat.

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Weaver of Dreams and Nightmares


Weaver of Dreams and Nightmares

By Jarret Keene

It was an eventful week for Natalie Merchant politically, which isn’t surprising. For 30 years she has been an activist and written environmental songs such as “Poison in the Well” for her old rock band 10,000 Maniacs. Merchant had just returned from an anti-fracking rally with 2,000 protesters—among them legendary folk singer Pete Seeger. They attended New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address to make their voices heard on the issue of shale gas drilling. But Merchant is quick to stress a connection between her activism and her music.