Feed the Animals, Feed the Fire
Gregg Gillis’ wild live shows are the stuff of legend, his frantic, pulsing mashups the fan that fuels his drunk, randy audiences into outrageous exhibitionist displays; one (completely unsubstantiated) urban legend that keeps making the rounds is that of a couple who got onstage during a Girl Talk show and started doing the nasty right in front of God, Gillis and everyone else. Not sure if it’s true, but if it is, there’s no wonder Gillis quit a career as an engineer to keep rocking parties. That technical training may explain the mathematical precision with which he artfully splices, dices and layers a mix tape’s worth of songs into one single track. Were you to play all those songs side by side, it’d be hard to hear any connection but a similar time signature. And Gillis’ fame extends well beyond the level of niche-y scene fame to which most DJs can reasonably aspire. Music nerds love Gregg Gillis because it’s a fun party game to try to figure out which (and how many) different songs went into the production of one of his sound collages. Everyone else loves Gregg Gillis because his are some of the best dance beats around. And his latest, 2008’s Feed the Animals, is just another step in his progress toward becoming the world’s best — and best-known — mashup DJ. Girl Talk and Brother Reade play at 9 pm Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the McDonald Theatre. $15 adv., $18 door. —Sara Brickner
Not That Kind of Hybrid
Stanley Dural is zydeco music’s great crossover success. The Lafayette, La., singer and accordionist and former funkster apprenticed at the source, performing with zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier in the 1970s and learning the ropes of America’s great musical hybrid — an irresistibly danceable gumbo of Louisiana Creole folk music and blues. In three decades with his own band, Buckwheat Zydeco, Dural has popularized the bubbly country dance music with a series of frisky albums, constant touring at festivals and concert halls worldwide (including a peppy show I caught at last year’s Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland), and guest appearances with the likes of Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Bonnie Raitt and many other pop stars. His concerts are guaranteed to lift spirits and feet, even if you’re hearing them in an old church. Buckwheat Zydeco performs at 7:30 pm Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Jaqua Concert Hall at The Shedd. $28-$34. — Brett Campbell
Whatever his other contributions to music — and they’re much debated — Wynton Marsalis has helped restore big band jazz as an American institution. After WWII, economic transition doomed most of the once-regnant big dance bands, and the passing of giants like Duke Ellington and Count Basie relegated most of the remnants to ghost band rehashes. Since taking over the Jazz at Lincoln Center program, the energetic trumpeter/composer has built the 15-member ensemble into a crack performing unit that has revived great arrangements by the like of Ellington, Basie, Goodman, Gillespie, Mingus, Fletcher Henderson, Mary Lou Williams and other large-ensemble legends. The orchestra has also commissioned new compositions and arrangements to keep the institution developing. LCJO has given a spotlight to terrific talents like saxophonist Ted Nash, trumpeters Marcus Printup and Ryan Kisor and many other budding stars. And by touring for a third of the year and sponsoring broadcasts, competitions and a panoply of educational programs, it’s brought big band music back to the rest of America. Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra perform at 7:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 17, at the Hult Center. $28-$68. — Brett Campbell
It can be difficult to know what to think of one-man bands like Saint Solitude. Often these acts are sparingly orchestrated, relying on some combination of voice, drum machine and a stringed instrument. This can be because the musician lacks instruments (or the talent to play them), or because he’s unwilling to deal with the stress of playing a live show and looping and switching instruments on stage in front of restless viewers.
Saint Solitude’s lone member, Dup Crosson of Asheville, N.C, does play the entire spectrum of essential rock/pop instruments both in studio and alone on stage. But he creates layers of sound that stack like a fancy cake, each layer different and harmonizing with every other layer. The demonstrable looping effects seen during his live performance of “Car Crash Headline” (on YouTube) set a repetitive base that can seem bland and masturbatory until a double-dutch skipping piano riff jumps on top of it and sets the tone for a breezy melodic trip.
Another video of Crosson’s worth mentioning is the video for his song “Flocking Disaster” (watch it at saintsolitude.com). For fans of the BBC series Doctor Who, it’s worth seeing Crosson enter the assumed home of a credited Ben Jackson and his “sci-fi creations.” Within Jackson’s home is the familiar Police Box door, and within that door is a flashing replica of the TARDIS. The song itself is a spooky combination of church organ and vocal harmonizing that can raise the hair on the back of your neck when coupled with the mysterious machinations onscreen.
Saint Solitude and The Filthiest People Alive play at 9 pm Friday, Sept. 11, at Wandering Goat. 21+. Free. — Shaun O’Dell