Alt-Nation: Shows to Put a Spring in Your Step

Sage Francis
This is a gem of a show that is flying under the radar with acclaimed hip-hop artist Sage Francis coming to The Knickerbocker in Westerly.  Sage Francis has accomplished a ton with his most recent release, 2014’s Copper Gone, which came out on his own Strange Famous Records. This show also includes one of Francis protégées, B. Dolan, who last year released the excellent Kill the Wolf (Strange Famous Records). The Knickerbocker is a great place to see a show and I recommend going early and checking out Westerly as there are several places in walking distance worth hitting up.


Sage Francis, B. Dolan and Ceschi will take the party to The Knickerbocker.

Vertical Twin
Vertical Twin are back after a hiatus that lasted a couple of years and ready to rev it up in high gear with their trademarked moto-psych-punk. I’ve always loved their record ElectroSonicMotherPhonic (75orLess Records). Karma Rocket’s disc Parts to Pieces (75orLess Records) arrived this week. It is a mix of Pixies meets Husker Du aggression with a poppy gleam that includes a hell-raising cover of “Add It Up” by the Violent Fems. Six Star General bring it with a sledgehammer rock that has bits of Sonic Youth, The Minuteman and ’70s Neil Young. Lincoln Tunnel round out this night of great music with music that draws from the likes of Replacements and Sebadoh.

Vertical Twin, Karma Rocket, Six Star General and Lincoln Tunnel will rock The Parlour in Providence on March 5.

The Silks / Julie Rhodes Bound to Meet the Devil CD Release
The Silks, led by the best guitar slinger in town, Tyler James Kelly, kick up a ruckus of dirty early ’70s rock ‘n’ roll served up with the blues poured over like gravy. I got an advance copy of Julie Rhodes’ new record, Bound to Meet the Devil. The biscuit reminds me of a modern day Etta James with tunes like “In Your Garden” and “Skyscraper Blues.” On “Faith” Rhodes works in a gospel feel that also has a hint of Janis Joplin. Rhodes has a powerhouse voice, which combined with Kelly’s guitar player makes this one whopper of a show.

The Silks and Julie Rhodes will rock the upstairs of the Columbus Theatre in Providence on March 5.

WBRU Rock Hunt Finals
The Super Bowl of local rock is going down again at The Met Café. Several of the semi-finals have already taken place, but I’m not sure who has advanced in the big dance. You can vote for a wild card slot at I wasn’t really excited about any of the semi-finalists so I’ve placed my bet on whoever emerges from the wild card vote because somebody must like them.

The WBRU Rock Hunt Finals will take place at The Met Café on March 19 in Providence.

The Worried /M.O.T.O.
This show is a mega dosage of punk ‘n’ roll. The Worried rip it live with sleazy ’70s punk rock.   M.O.T.O. mine similar territory with infectious upbeat harmonies on the choruses on tunes like “Dance Dance Dance Dance Dance to the Radio” and “Metal Man.” This show should be what comes up if one were to Google what punk rock is.

The Worried, M.O.T.O. and The Hi-End will rock the Parlour in Providence on March 19.

Drive-By Truckers
It’s tough to believe that Drive-By Truckers are entering their 20th year spewing out alt-country laden rock. As last year’s It’s Great To Be Alive live album proves, Drive-By Truckers still deliver the goods live. They may have been eclipsed in popularity by former member Jason Isbell, but I’ve never noticed any sign of them slowing down live. Check out their 2001 double album Southern Rock Opera if you’re looking for a starting point to get amped for the show!

Drive-By Truckers will rock the Columbus Theatre on March 9.

Super Sonic Surf Explosion
This show will kick off with a record sale with a bunch of area vendors selling their wares. As I’m currently in need of an intervention to curb my record buying addiction, going early for me would be like scoring crack. That said, I’ll probably still do it. After you score some vinyl, the music will start with an emphasis of surf punk. The night will include sets by The Buzzards, The Mad Doctors, The Nebulas and Future Spa.

The Super Sonic Surf Explosion will go down at Firehouse 13 in Providence on March 12.

The 2nd Annual Providence Tattoo & Music Festival
The 2nd Providence Tattoo & Music Fest will take over both rooms at Fete Music Hall. The show will include a ton of vendors from tattoo shops, other vendors including sponsor Boneyard Wings and live music. The bands playing include Revocation Gamohra, DEATH RATTLE, Carolina Burn Joint Damage, Dead By Wednesday, Pistol Shot Gypsy, SINARO, Bloodline Theory, Fear The Masses, Proxies and Blind Revision on the Ballroom stage. Bands rocking the Lounge stage include Overwith The River, Neva Shred of Salvation, All For Blood, HEMLOK, Apollo’s Resurrection, 6 Foot, Silence Those Alone, Red Kingdom and Affliktion Revelater. Good wings and rock ‘n’ roll… mmm sign me up!

The 2nd Annual Providence Tattoo & Music Festival comes to Fete on March 19.

Titus Andronicus and Craig Finn
I’m amped for this show because Craig Finn is the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, The Hold Steady. Finn released a solo album, Faith in the Future, which was one of last year’s best.  The record kind of scares me because it was a better record than the last two The Hold Steady records, which makes me worried about the band’s future. Finn’s solo stuff is much quieter than the swinging barroom rock of The Hold Steady. Faith in the Future just felt less forced, allowing more room for Finn’s narratives than the recent offerings from The Hold Steady.

Last year Titus Andronicus released a rock opera, The Most Lamentable Tragedy (Merge Records), that delves deep into mental illness. Certainly not an easy subject to tackle and create something enjoyable to listen to, but I loved the album. Tracks like “Mr. E Mann” and “I Lost My Mind” have a Springsteen-like fervor that just grabs and raises you spiritually. “Lonely Boy” reminds me of Sally Can’t Dance-era Lou Reed. “Look Alive” is a punk rock rave up, but there are plenty of interludes and it’s really best to listen to the album as whole for maximum impact.  The album is an autobiographical account of the struggle front man Patrick Stickles battles with mental health. Titus Andronicus has had many members over the years, including Deer Tick’s Ian O’Neil.

Titus Andronicus and Craig Finn will rock the Met Café on March 26.

PJ Harvey Cover Show
PJ Harvey has influenced musicians for over 20 years with her mix of alternative rock meets the blues and straight-forward rock. She has been probably the most influential feminist in music over the past two decades while saying little about the topic. Ms. Harvey lets her music and presentation get her message across like a sledgehammer. For this show, mostly local musicians will be doing their favorite Harvey tunes. Performers include Karen Orsi, Francesca Caruso and Tayla, Gertrude Atherton, Me Jane, Johanna Walczak & Ladies, Florence Wallis and Orion Rigel Domisse, Bill Keough, Jennifer Avery, Malyssa BellaRosa and Hilary Jones. The show is a benefit for Girls Rock! Rhode Island.

PJ Harvey Cover Show comes to Aurora in Providence on March 27.  

Joe Satriani
Guitar wizard Joe Satriani comes to town for his Surfing to Shock Tour celebrating “30 years of Mind-Bending Guitar Daredevilry.” I don’t really see any elements of surf or shock entering into this show, but “mind-bending guitar daredevilry” is guaran-damn-teed. So if you’re into instrumental guitar sorcery, this is a rare chance to catch one of the all-time greats!

Joe Satriani will rock The Vets in Providence on March 31.

WBRU April Fools Bash
WBRU is bringing back their Aprils Fools Bash with a bang with a rare rock ‘n’ roll show at the Dunk. Cage The Elephant headlines this party, but I’m also stoked for  Silversun Pickups who put on a memorable show at Lupo’s a few years back. Most of the lineup deals in traditional modern guitar rock, but they do it well. This show is no prank — get your tickets before they are all gone!

WBRU April Fools Bash featuring performances by Cage The Elephant, Silversun Pickups, Foals and Bear Hands will rock the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence on April 1.

Iggy Pop
The Godfather of Punk returns with a new album, Post Pop Depression, produced by Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. The album is supposed to be inspired by the sound of Iggy’s late ’70s collaborations with David Bowie on the Lust for Life and The Idiot records. The tracks I’ve heard have lived up to that description. Iggy is one of the best live performers of all time and Homme is playing guitar on the tour. This is well worth the trip to Boston.
Iggy Pop will tear the Orpheum in Boston a new one on April 11.

Jonathan Richman
I’ll never forget the first time that I saw Jonathan Richman live upstairs at the Middle East.  After each of the first five songs, he requested that the volume be turned down. There is even a Frank Black tribute song about him called “The Man Who Is Too Loud.” Jonathan Richman is a great performer for all the opposite reasons that Iggy Pop is. His music is full of childhood innocence. For those unfamiliar with Richman’s music, he’s that guy that pops up throughout the movie There’s Something About Mary to sing a song every time something happens. As always, Richman will be joined by Tommy Larkin on drums.

Jonathan Richman will play The Met Café on April 5.

Puscifer is Maynard James Keenan’s (Tool and A Perfect Circle) latest band. While Tool reunited to play a festival last year, their often discussed next record has not materialized. Keenan has kept busy with Puscifer, which released a new album this year called Money Shot.  The record is a little more electronic than Tool, but it isn’t all that different than Keenan’s other projects. Don’t miss your chance to catch a legend when Puscifer hits The Vets!

Puscifer will rock The Vets in Providence on April 16.

The Smithereens
In the days before grunge, The Smithereens were one of the few alternative bands to breakthrough to mainstream radio with hits like “Only a Memory” and “Blood and Roses.”  Smithereens were a guitar-driven band that mixed in bits of The Kinks and The Clash to create catchy guitar jams. I’ve never seen them live, so I’m extra stoked for this show!

The Smithereens will rock the Narrows Center For The Arts in Fall River on April 22.

Peter Wolf
One of the all-time great front men in rock ‘n’ roll, Peter Wolf returns to Fall River for a CD Release Party for his new record, A Cure For Loneliness. The Wolfa Goofa Mama Toofa is best known for fronting The J. Geils Band with whom he delivered an electric performance in India Point Park last year. This is the album I’m most looking forward to this year. Wolf’s last record, Midnight Souvenirs, was pure brilliance. Wolf’s solo records tend to mine similar terrain as J. Geils working in R&B, soul, blues and even country nowadays. Do whatever you can to score a ticket on the internet for this show.

Peter Wolf will rock the Narrows Center for The Arts in Fall River on April 30.

Eagles of Death Metal
Eagles of Death Metal became a household name for all the wrong reasons with the tragedy of the terrorist attacks at their concert last November in Paris. Eagles of Death Metal play catchy, ass-shaking rock ‘n’ roll with gusto for life that makes the senseless attack even more awful. I admire the resolve of Eagles of Death Metal to not let the attacks stop them from doing what they love — playing music. The band has already returned to Paris. First as U2’s guest, where Bono and co yielded the stage to them for the encore to close the show, and they’ve headlined their own show. Let’s show them the love they deserve when they come to Providence!

Eagles of Death Metal will rock Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel on May 11.

Email music news to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Prove that you are human *

Previous post:

Next post: