Five Shows to See - MBD

Murder by Death plays February 13 at Belly Up Tavern

Atmosphere (February 5, Observatory North Park): Back in the early ‘00s, Minneapolis’ Atmosphere made a name for themselves with an earnest approach to hip-hop that critics at the time dubbed “emo rap.” Now, nearly two decades later, “emo rap” is a thing, though it doesn’t actually sound a lot like Atmosphere. But emcee Slug and producer Ant are still creating underground rap that cuts through some of the kayfabe of hip-hop’s fabulists in favor of an introspective, autobiographical approach.

Caifanes (February 5, House of Blues): Mexico City’s Caifanes are one of the most successful Spanish-language rock bands of the ‘90s, taking influence from progressive rock bands like King Crimson rock as well as ‘80s new wave, post-punk and goth (listen to a song like “Hasta Que Dejes de Respirar” and try not to think of The Cure). They reunited back in 2010 and have been touring since, though they’ve yet to release new music. As of 2019, a new album has supposedly been in the works, but in the meantime the catalog’s still strong enough to make for a great live show.

Cumbia Night w/ Cumbia Machin, DJ Ana Brown (February 6, Manhattan Bar): Cumbia’s been around longer than a lot of the genres of music we listen to now—hundreds of years in fact. Originating in Columbia and having evolved over many years, cumbia is defined essentially by its beat, and artists have used that as a foundation for some spectacular experiments. Cumbia Machin’s spin in cumbia is more heavily rooted in electronic sounds, which is a perfect formula for getting people dancing.  

Ten Bulls, The Heavy Guilt, Los Pinche Pinches, Sutton James feat. Pinkeye (February 7, Casbah): San Diego’s Ten Bulls were previously known as Sights & Sages, but with their rebranding comes a hazy, infectious indie pop sound. But they’re also in good company here, joined by The Heavy Guilt, who have been delivering gritty, rustic rock for the better part of the past decade.

Murder By Death (February 13, Belly Up Tavern): The name only sounds sinister until you think about the absurdity for just a second. Named after the 1976 film penned by Neil Simon, Murder by Death is one of the best gothic alt-country bands in the U.S., and they’re celebrating a pretty monumental achievement: 20 years as a band. Even if you missed out over the past couple decades, now’s a good time to get caught up.

Jeff Terich is the web editor of San Diego Magazine, and the music critic behind the blog The Setlist. His writing has been published in Stereogum, Bandcamp Daily, American Songwriter, Fodor's and Vinyl Me Please.

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