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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Sea Wolf


Sea Wolf

By Maureen Hank

Without a word, the touring indie-folk quintet sailed straight into “You’re a Wolf” from 2007 debut album Leaves in the River. Alternating intro-guitar notes elicited screams and whistles before drummer Joey Ficken even dropped the first beat of the California outfit’s most recognizable song. It wasn’t until after the opener that frontman/Sea Wolf founder Alex Brown Church greeted the attentive, dense audience packed in Beauty Bar. “It’s good to be back so soon,” he said, referring to their October show at Vinyl.