Mary J. Blige, Magnetic Flowers, JD McPherson

By Free Times
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
JD McPherson

Thursday 6

Humungus — Richmond, Va., has become a sort of locus for revivalist thrash, providing a homebase for the likes of GWAR, Municipal Waste, Government Warning and Humungus. But where many of its peers stick to the crossover template, Humungus, a four-year-old quintet, injects the groove and slam of mid-era Corrosion of Conformity or early Suicidal Tendencies with soaring, searing Judas Priest vocals and the occasional death-metal bass growl. It’s hardly worth calling these influences divergent, but Humungus’ New Wave of British Heavy Metal indulgences add spice to a retro-style that often feels unfortunately bland. For this gig, Humungus is surrounded by likeminded heavy-metal hybridizers Deathstill, Divulgence and Centura. B. Reed
New Brookland Tavern: 8 p.m., $5 ($8 under 21); 791-4413,

Friday 7

Kevin Focus — Charlotte-via-Chicago producer and remixer Kevin Focus’ electronic music hews closest to trance and progressive house, his club-storming sets built on battering beats and pulsing bass, with more than a few dubstep drops thrown in for good measure. Only the deepest electronic dance music fans will be truly able to discern Focus’ worth (though he has been co-signed by trance master Armin Van Buuren); the rest of us will simply be content to be overpowered by Focus’ high-powered house. Focus headlines the Rage with the Robots party, which features — yup — nine-foot LED robots, confetti blasts and robot DJs. And I for one welcome our new automaton overlords. P. Wall
Social: 8 p.m., $5 ($10 under 21); 603-4313,

Rejectioneers, Bad Talk — Local pop-rock group Rejectioneers somehow manages to combine the melodic charm of Fountains of Wayne with the almost-punk of old Goo Goo Dolls records. (Editor’s Note: Really old Goo Goo Dolls records.) Their songs are relentlessly fun and dare a listener to sit still. Florence’s Bad Talk dresses down the musical ferocity of Against Me! and the vocal urgency of Rise Against, finding its comfort zone somewhere in between the two Although it leans toward the more-emotional end of the punk spectrum, the band still attacks every song with bone-and-bullet intensity. M. Spawn
Conundrum Music Hall: 9 p.m., $7; 250-1295,

ZZ Ward — Til the Casket Drops, the 2012 debut from rising singer ZZ Ward, can’t decide what it wants to be. There’s blues swagger in some of the album’s bold and brash bass lines, and some delta-inspired fire in Ward’s crisp and cutting pipes. But her affectations are often more ornate, reaching for the upper-register flexibility enjoyed by more experimental songstresses — Emiliana Torrini, for one. Hip-hop rhythms appear as well, interjected at odd angles with productions that alternately recall modern R&B and mainstream country. It’s confusing, messy and rarely satisfying. “Cry Wolf,” with its sultry gait and dirty blues riffs, reveals the focus that the record often lacks. Hopefully, her Columbia performance will follow suit. J. Lawrence
New Brookland Tavern: 8 p.m., $14 ($12 advance); 791-4413,

Saturday 8

Mary J. Blige — That Mary J. Blige’s best record is still her 1992 debut, What’s the 411?, speaks more about how paramount that record is — indeed, Blige’s debut was also her coronation as the queen of her own, brand new hybrid category: hip-hop soul — than it does about her career arc. In the two decades since, Blige has proven herself not just a stirring soul singer with a consistently strong career, but also a sincere (and, at times, sincerely self-damning) storyteller, authentically and heartwrenchingly navigating the travails of the hard-knock life over sleekly modern and urban R&B. Still street-savvy and still tough, perhaps it’s time to place Blige in a different category altogether: tortured soul. With KEM, comedian Jay Lamont. P. Wall
Colonial Life Arena: Doors: 6:30 p.m., Show: 7:30 p.m., $57-$112; 1-855-456-2849,

Mandy Addy & the Diving Horses — For Mandy Addy Hite, music is a family affair in more ways than one. She credits her love for classic country music to her grandparents, and the band she fronts includes her husband Kelly on rhythm guitar. Add in some steel guitar from John Swain, and we’ve got ourselves a real country band that cites Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Marty Stuart and Connie Smith as favorites. The group includes former members of One Step Ahead, a popular Midlands band that dates back to the 1970s. With The Scottie Frier Band, which includes the Hites’ son. K. Oliver
West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheatre: 6 p.m., free; 794-6504,

Magnetic Flowers — I once suggested, only half-jokingly, to Magnetic Flowers — making their first appearance in more than a year at this gig — that they call their forthcoming album Yankee Hotel F#!k-Up, an obvious and winking nod to Wilco’s now-classic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot; they went with Old. Cold. Losing It. instead. Wilco has always been a pronounced influence on Magnetic Flowers’ shambolic alt-country, but Old. Cold. Losing It. doesn’t sound like a carbon copy of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and that’s not why I suggested the mock-homage title. Rather, what I’d heard from Old. Cold. Losing It. reminded me of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot attitude, a restless need for experimentation and genre-jumping, a desire to throw off the limiting shackles of the alt-country tag, to funnel great psychological turmoil into complex and earnest music, and push that music into more progressive — and maybe more uncomfortable — places. If Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was Wilco’s great leap forward, perhaps so, too, is Old. Cold. Losing It., due in September, the same for Magnetic Flowers. P. Wall
Art Bar: 9 p.m., $5; 929-0198,

Sunday 9

JD McPherson — JD McPherson plays rhythm ‘n’ blues alarmingly well for a white guy from Oklahoma. Actually, he plays it well for an any-color person from just about any place you can think of. His voice has the raw soul of Little Richard and Ray Charles, while his band sounds straight out of the school dance at the end of Back to the Future. The music is exciting and dangerous in a way that most bands fail to achieve, especially when they actively try. It’s the sort of thing that might keep the kids hand-jiving past curfew. M. Spawn
New Brookland Tavern: 7:30 p.m., $12; 791-4413,

Tuesday 11

Ugly Radio Rebellion & Ike Willis — Dweezil Zappa, who leads the Zappa Plays Zappa tribute outfit, was, quite literally, born to play the music of his father, the late composer and guitarist Frank Zappa. But Detroit’s Ugly Radio Rebellion actively chose to exclusively play the elder Zappa’s at times extremely challenging and musically intimidating repertoire, and actively sifted through groups of musicians to find the right players up to the daunting task. One of those recent players: current tourmate Ike Willis, who was a regular member of Zappa’s studio and touring bands between 1978 and 1988. Willis played the titular Joe in Zappa’s three-act Joe’s Garage, so strong money is on “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?” appearing on tonight’s setlist. P. Wall
Conundrum Music Hall: 8:30 p.m., $10; 250-1295,

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