When: Sat., Sept. 21, 9:30 p.m. 2013
On Pere Ubu’s 1976 single “Final Solution,” front man David Thomas lamented, “Mom threw me out until I get some pants that fit,” but he’s since grown quite comfortable as the grumpy old man rock ’n’ roll. Thomas has played that role to the hilt for years, protesting the passing of cherished cultural touchstones over a backdrop of rumbling guitar rock spiked with squalling analog synthesizers. He’s in fine fettle on the band’s new album, Lady From Shanghai (Fire), but two things make it Pere Ubu’s best in decades: Thomas ratchets up the emotional intensity of the more narrative songs by instilling the protagonists with a creeping awareness that their problems are their own fault, and in general the band returns to the terse, fractured songwriting of the earliest Ubu albums. Thomas’s latest fight against the tenor of the times has pitted him against the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services and the American Federation of Musicians, and it’s directly affected this show. Because he refused to pay the fee that the AFM now requires to vet the merits of visa applicants, the band’s British members, soundman and synthesist Gagarin and guitarist Keith Moliné, had their applications denied. Guitarist Dave Cintron (Terminal Lovers, Scarcity of Tanks) will join Thomas, drummer Steve Mehlman, bassist Michele Temple, and synth/theremin player Robert Wheeler onstage; the absent members will contribute to one song by cell phone. —Bill Meyer Gagarin (performing remotely) and Radiant Devices open.