Rodriguez, Vampire Hands | Schubas | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Rodriguez, Vampire Hands Critic's Choice Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., May 8, 10:30 p.m. 2009

A friend once described Sixto Diaz Rodriguez’s acerbic folk rock as “heavier than a fart in a funeral,” and on his two studio albums, 1970’s Cold Fact and 1971’s Coming From Reality, his finely tuned bullshit detector—the vital part of every good Detroiter’s soul that lets him call ’em like he sees ’em—is set to “withering unsugarcoated honesty.” RODRIGUEZ got his start in the late 60s in the Cass Corridor clubs around Wayne State, often performing with his back turned a la Miles Davis, delivering bleak visions of poverty, corruption, and desolation with an angry prophet’s conviction. Not even Dylan at his most cutting delivered lyrics like “Gomorrah is a nursery rhyme / You won’t find in the book / It’s written on your city’s face / Just stop and take a look,” and not even Zappa at his most sneeringly caustic ever sang “You’re pretending that you got it made / You know I know you know no truth / You’re still serving cookies and Kool-aid / You’re so proper and so cute.” Rodriguez quit music in the early 70s after his records flopped in America, but he was still getting airplay—and becoming a cult hero—in countries like South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. After touring Australia twice in the late 70s and early 80s, he went back to his day job, but then in 1998 his daughter alerted him to his unlikely platinum success in South Africa, which he’d been completely oblivious to. He plunged back into music, embarking on the first of several tours there, and now both his studio albums have been reissued in the States by Seattle’s Light in the Attic Records—Cold Fact last year, Coming From Reality this week. For this leg of his current tour Rodriguez is joined by an all-star Detroit lineup: Dan Kroha of the Demolition Doll Rods on guitar, Brad Hales of Human Eye on bass, and Dave Shettler of SSM on drums. —Brian Costello Even though I’ve gone to see VAMPIRE HANDS a couple of times and enjoyed their recordings when they’ve come my way, I wasn’t prepared for how much I’d like their newest album, the forthcoming Hannah in the Mansion—since I got a copy it’s been dominating my listening time. The band’s touchstones have always been classic stoner-dude stuff—Neil Young, the Dead, solo Lennon—but early on, perhaps because of their roots in the Minneapolis noise scene, they seemed self-conscious, as though they were worried their audience would mentally supply a set of ironic air quotes every time they rocked out. But on the new record they handle their source material with subtlety and confidence—“Funny Stories” is one of their strongest jams, a muscular minor-key swirl of druggy blues that exudes caustic punk vibes even without punk’s speed or aggression. Comparing Vampire Hands to top-shelf Royal Trux would be fair. Their recent opening slot on a Wavves tour, on the other hand, was anything but—last month at the Empty Bottle they made the night’s alleged headliner look pretty pitiable. —Miles Raymer Rodriguez headlines and Vampire Hands open.

Price: $20

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