Bakersfield will once again be an interstate hub for all manner of original music, ranging from punk-tinged indie rock to conceptual electronic music.
Jerry's Pizza next Friday
On July 26, local post-hardcore trio If It Kills You will be playing with San Fransisco’s Songs For Snakes at Jerry’s Pizza. The two are the rock band equivalent of sister cities, having gone as far as releasing a split 7-inch single in December 2017 of their songs “A Lifetime on the Phone” and “Cobalt Blue,” respectively. Local duo Contranistas will also be performing.
If It Kills You’s strong 2018 release “Infinite Hum” is an artifact of particular sonic intensity. Listening to it feels almost pugilistic and cathartic, like maneuvering through a dreamlike car crash that leaves no trace afterwards of its violence on you or your car, save for a stunned exhilaration. The final track, “Projections,” is both lovely and brutal, usually simultaneously.
Songs For Snakes is a bit more ethereal and melodically straightforward than their spiritual Bakersfield counterparts, as evidenced on their album “Crystal Vapour Figure,” also from 2018. The title track, with its solid chorus, tight harmonies and driving beat, is just about custom-made for audience participation. The dramatic “A High Winter Sky” and “Window Licker” are also standouts.
Chances are, if you’re a fan of bands like Samiam or Drive Like Jehu (in which case If It Kills You’s name should sound familiar), you’re already familiar with the bands on the bill. But if you’re not, make a beeline to the Jerry’s Pizza basement next Friday night and brace yourselves for an evening of spectral collisions and sing-alongs.
Jerry's Pizza on Sunday
At Jerry’s on Sunday, San Antonio’s self-described chicana punk rock band FEA will be performing.
I caught them back in 2016 when they played a knockout show at The Mint. They were a fiery revelation, even as they were fighting through some sound issues. I don’t think a single person left during their set. Everyone in the group was solid, especially their indefatigable rhythm section of bass player Jenn Alva, aka Jenn Fea, and drummer Stephanie Diaz, aka Phanie Fea, formerly of the superb Girl In A Coma. They’ll be joined by new guitarist Sofi Lopez, aka Sofi Fea.
Signed to Joan Jett’s record label, Blackheart Records, their latest ten-song album, produced by punk icon Alice Bag, will be released in the fall. Their cover of Gloria Trevi’s “Pelo Suelto” is sure to be a highlight.
“We’ve been through a lot as individuals and as a group,” said Alva. “The way the world is moving with social media has been a big influence in our lyrics.”
“We cover a variety of topics in our songs from equality for everyone, women’s and societal issues, touring, mental illness, and more. All with a splash of humor.”
Like their bio says: “resistance has never sounded so infectious.” Highly recommended.
Also on the bill are the St. Louis-based duo Bruiser Queen. Much like The Ramones, this is a band that is not afraid to mix crunchy guitars with unapologetically fun melodies. On their 2017 album “Heavy High,” singer Morgan Nusbaum’s engaging voice is crystal clear and she has a supernatural knack for finding a perfect melody. Drummer Jason Potter is supportive and judicious in his playing without sacrificing an ounce of feel.
These two write some seriously good songs and, refreshingly and wisely, revolve everything else to highlight that. Some, like “Tonight We Dream” and “Sea Blue,” feel broadcast from some kind of otherworldly jukebox.
Riley's Tavern on Monday
Riley’s Tavern has stepped back a bit from hosting live music on the weekends. Instead, they’ve been having it biweekly (mostly) on their “Music Mondays.” Oakland’s The Atom Age will be performing there this Monday.
Musically, The Atom Age’s sound is like a mix of punk and bouncy 1960s primitive garage rock, instant and engaging.
“(As a band), I think we have always tried to say ‘have fun’ and remember how great rock 'n’ roll can make you feel,” said Ryan Perras, the band’s vocalist and guitarist.
“There's so much power in this genre of music and sometimes it gets lost or forgotten. When you can hit it just right, it's just the best thing in the world. Let your guard down and feel alive, (expletive)!”
Their new single “Walk Through Walls,” from their upcoming album “Cry Til’ You Die,” produced by Dave Schiffman (The Bronx, Pup, Jimmy Eat World), is intoxicating.
With its “Cool Jerk”-type feel, tenor sax hook and Farfisa organ throughout, you won’t be able to stop yourself from moving to its ridiculously addictive beat (what a drum sound!). Once the guitar riff kicks in? Forget it. Give in. Resistance is futile.
Their fellow Bay Area compadres Nobody’s Baby also features Perras on drums. On their latest single, “Life of a Thousand Girls,” the group sounds like Siouxsie Sioux singing for The Pixies. Consider my interest piqued.
Local solo artist Ariel Dyer and Porterville’s indie punk band, The Gilligans, will be opening the show, with the latter kicking off their own proper tour from there.
Local Ramones-tribute The Cretins and electronic music act Kinetic Distortion round out the bill with the latter filling in between bands and having just released its own album “Deep Into The Night.” It’s a concept piece that mixes world and electronic music, with each of its six tracks set “to a specific place on Earth, with each having its own story,” as described on Kinetic Distortion’s Facebook page. (The album can be found on soundcloud.com/kineticdistortion/sets/deep-into-the-night-album)
Kinda sounds like Bakersfield this weekend.
If It Kills You, Songs for Snakes (San Francisco), and Contranistas, 8 p.m. July 26 at Jerry’s Pizza & Pub, 1817 Chester Ave.; $5 cover; all ages
FEA (San Antonio), Bruiser Queen ( St. Louis, MO), and The Gilligans (Porterville), Ariel Dyer, 7 p.m. Sunday at Jerry’s Pizza, 1817 Chester Ave.;$8; all ages
The Atom Age (Oakland), Nobody’s Baby (Oakland). Midnight Track (San Diego), The Cretins (Bakersfield) with Kinetic Distortion (Bakersfield), 8 p.m. Monday at Riley’s Tavern, 1523 19th St.; free admission; 21 and over