Best shows to see: Trinidad James, Smith Westerns, Wreck & Reference | Bleader

Best shows to see: Trinidad James, Smith Westerns, Wreck & Reference

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Trinidad James
  • Gavin Guidry
  • Trinidad James
In light of the Carlos Danger saga, we at Soundboard have something to get off our chest. Those Snapchats you've been getting from "Johnny Cantina"? Yeah, that's us. Sorry, we just really like photographing our keyboard. Click pics. You can accept our apology by attending these shows. And by forgetting this lede ever happened.

Tonight, Elephant Gun stops by Subterranean, Dessa and Psalm One rap for free at Pritzker, and Heart plays at Ravinia with Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, because nostalgia is healthy. (Just ask anyone who went to Pitchfork and is still humming R. Kelly.) Tomorrow, Abraham Levitan rounds out his July residency at the Hideout with a Baby Teeth reunion, Potty Mouth plays at the Empty Bottle, a lean-and-mean version of Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Orchestra is at the Whistler, and Slim Cessna's Auto Club performs at Schubas.

On Wednesday, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, and Markus Reuter team up at Martyrs' as prog-rock outfit Stick Men, House of Blues hosts Thievery Corporation, and Peter Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark, Hamid Drake, and Chad Taylor play as a quartet at the Hideout.

More Soundboard picks below.

UPDATE (3:55 PM): This show has been canceled.

Mon 7/29: Blue Hawaii at Schubas

"The star of Blue Hawaii's recent Untogether is unquestionably the twisted, manipulated voice of front woman Raphaelle Standell-Preston," writes Kevin Warwick. Standell-Preston's vocal effects turn the Montreal duo's airy, calm synth-pop into something dazzlingly complex, with its melodies chopped into samples, layered back into hooks, and squeezed all the way down to glitches. It's as slight and beautiful as a dream you forget in the morning. The production tricks should be even more captivating live, however they pull it off.

Tue 7/30: Trinidad James at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

To debate Trinidad James's technical ability is to miss the point. "All Gold Everything" earned James a seven-figure deal from Def Jam for its brute simplicity. He wears a lot of gold; believe him or don't, there's nothing more to say. Miles Raymer puts it best: "His all-gold-everything sartorial sense is a study in the transformation of bad taste into camp brilliance." James opens for Wiz Khalifa, on a bill that also includes A$AP Rocky, B.O.B., and Joey Bada$$.

Wed 7/31: Smith Westerns at Lincoln Hall

On their new record, Soft Will, Smith Westerns move away from the fuzzy garage pop of their early days into relatively slick indie-rock territory. After all, they're a Coachella band now. The good news is that the Chicago trio seems perfectly at home aiming for irresistibility—the sonic shift feels like self-actualization. As Luca Cimarusti points out, Max Kakacek's New Order-flavored guitar and Cullen Omori's sugary falsetto make it clear that these guys are more Shins than Spits.

Wed 7/31: Wreck & Reference at Burlington

If Wreck & Reference's brand of heavy metal sounds inhumanly overprocessed, it should. The California duo assembles everything but percussion and vocals with Ableton Live, contorting samples into evocations of guitar riffs, then roughing them up by running the final mix through a guitar amp. "Last year's outstanding No Youth combines cavernous, haunting melodies, gnarly blastbeats, stuttering samples of what sounds like rocks falling, and deep, drawn-out sighs," writes Leor Galil. "The recent No Content seven-inch is just as great."

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