Dream ’19 w/ Black Marble and Xeno & Oaklanderâ
Locally based label Dream has built up a small catalog of excellent synth pop, dream pop and darkwave albums—all available on cassette. But Dream, run by longtime local music fixture Mario Orduno, is also responsible for putting together a lot of excellent shows featuring both touring and local bands. Dream ’19 is the label’s first curated two-day festival, and it features a number of great dark, moody yet danceable bands. Eyeliner recommended, but not mandatory.
May 10–11, The Casbah
Mark Oliver Everett’s career as Eels started off in the ’90s with an unlikely hit: "Novocaine for the Soul." The song was a post-Beck showcase of quirky bedroom pop harboring a low-key darkness that set the artist apart from so many surrealist boho pop artists of the era. And by the time Everett released his second album, 1998’s Electro-Shock Blues, he’d managed to pull off one of the most heartbreaking alternative rock albums of all time, written after the deaths of his mother and his sister, two years apart. Since then, he’s built up a great catalog of (mostly underrated) indie pop that makes for an epic mixtape in any order.
May 11, The Observatory North Park
Oaxacan singer-songwriter Lila Downs is one of the biggest names in Mexican music. She’s earned a Grammy as well as a Latin Grammy, and is an activist who’s been outspoken and active in promoting the causes of indigenous peoples in Mexico. All of which is to say she’s practically a legend, and her body of work ranges from contemporary Latin alternative sounds to more traditional Mexican folk, all of which is well worth exploring.
I first heard the music of Santigold well before I even knew who she was. In 2001 she was known by her birth name, Santi White, and had written a number of songs on the debut album by an R&B singer named Res (who, 18 years later, still hasn’t gotten her due). But Santigold has risen in stature, releasing a number of great, eclectic albums that feature sounds ranging from dub and electronic to hypercharged punk. She’s all over the map, but somehow she pulls it off.
May 15, House of Blues
Willie Nelson is a paradox. On the one hand, he’s the kind of artist who really needs no introduction. On the other, he’s released so much music throughout his career (over 100 albums!) that it’s a herculean feat to even figure out where to begin. The 86-year-old country troubadour has done outlaw country (Shotgun Willie), concept albums (Red Headed Stranger), standards (Stardust) and countless collaborations with artists ranging from Waylon Jennings to jazz musician Don Cherry and even Snoop Dogg. The man has almost literally done it all.
May 15, Humphreys