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Eugene Weekly : Music : 10.23.08




Dance Your Hats Off

Luke Mandala

Every now and then you hear of stories about a show, party or nightclub event that just sounded too good to be true. Naw, brah, you thought, those stories are exxagerated! All the same, you were jealous. Well, this is an event you either check out (and go home happy) or miss out on entirely. For one night only, the WOW Hall is opening up its space to offer a showcase of more than eight DJs, all splitting duties in the upstairs stage (all ages) and the basement bar (21+), to create a night catered by male DJs (dubbed the Cascade Knights) for the explicit intention to make you shake what your mama gave ya.

The all-ages upper deck is manned by Luke Mandala’s house, dub and electro and Hector Villanueva’s Latin-inspired beats, as well as Charles Thump and DJ Ceez. The cozier downstairs party features 800 Pound Gorilla, Michael Human and SNAFU mashup-misfits Casey Mitchell and The Audio Schizophrenic. This is Eugene’s club scene at its best. There is only one logistical hiccup: The WOW Hall building is such a large space, it truly needs to be filled with warm bodies for this to work. The split-level dance club idea is a hit in other cities, so if all Eugene gets is one night of this due to poor ticket sales, well, just don’t complain that there’s nowhere to dance in Eugene. Ever. Again. Cascade Knights start the party at 10 pm Thursday, Oct. 23, at the WOW Hall. $8. — Chuck Adams



Winging It

When classical pianists play solo concerts these days, they’re expected to play only the notes the composers wrote. If you go hear a jazz pianist, on the other hand, you’d be pretty disappointed if she played only the tune of some standard without embarking on some improvisation. ‘Twas not ever thus. For much of the 18th and 19th centuries, composer-keyboard whizzes such as Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Liszt, and other virtuoso pianists in the Romantic era, were famous for dazzling their audiences with flights of improvisation on their own tunes or popular themes of the time. Now, after a century or so of neglect, that classical improvisation tradition is returning, thanks to historically aware performers such as Robert Levin and Gabriela Montero,  the engaging young Venezuelan virtuosa who enchanted an audience at the Shedd last year and who returns this week. This time, Montero, who’s performed with many of the world’s major orchestras and won universal critical acclaim, will play music of Chopin and J.S. Bach and then devote the rest of her concert to improvisations on themes pitched to her by the audience, as she often does in the “Sing it and Wing it” segments on the public radio program Performance Today. So come prepared with a tune. Say, the jazz arranger/composer Neal Hefti just died — maybe she can take off on his themes to the old TV series Batman or The Odd Couple? Gabriela Montero performs at 7:30 pm Friday, Oct 24, at the Shedd. $24-$32. — Brett Campbell



Singing Volumes

Super XX Man

The farther back you go in Super XX Man’s history, the more Scott Garred’s once-solo project starts to mirror the early songs of Silver Scooter, the underrated Austin indie rock band Garred fronted in the late ’90s. With many bands, I wouldn’t be able to tell you this, but Super XX Man’s website (www.superxxman.com) is about as good as they come for getting to know a band: You can stream Garred’s entire back catalogue, from 1995’s Volume I to the just-released Volume XII, There’ll Be Diamonds. Leaping from I to XII can be a little disconcerting; you can hear the years that’ve passed between the strained, earnest intensity of “Hearts and Stars,” with its distant, lo-fi feel and unpolished vocals, and the careful reserve of “Medication,” by which Garred’s voice sounds more practiced, more genial, more … settled. 

Over the years, Super XX Man has morphed into a full band (including Garred’s accordion and piano-playing wife, Michelle), but the gentle, thoughtful acoustic songs still have the intimacy of a solo project. Garred’s lyrics are half catchy and sweet, half like interior monologues set to delicate acoustic guitar. Super XX Man’s countless songs are clearly the product of a constantly creating mind; listening to the band feels like eavesdropping on a lifetime of thoughts that would otherwise have gone unspoken. “I’m cautious like a panther / When I’m walking down the street” isn’t something you can just say, but it sure works in a Scott Garred song. Super XX Man, Testface and Leo London play at 9 pm Thursday, Oct. 30, at Sam Bond’s Garage. 21+ show. $5. — Molly Templeton