Crisp fall nights, increased chances of rain — this is the time of year when I once again wonder why none of Humboldt County's many venues offer coat checks. Wouldn't you happily pay a few dollars to leave your coat in a safe, clean spot rather than slung over the back of a chair, hooked under a bar counter or piled in a booth? Perhaps this will be the season that coat checks will become a thing. Untapped opportunity, entrepreneurs! Until then, bundle up and make do, dear readers, because you once again have a whole lot of shows calling your name.
On Thursday, Southern Lord Records artists Agrimonia unleash Swedish death crust at the Alibi. Song titles such as "Decay," "Leaves Fall Rotten," "Cyst" and "Harvest the Discontent" make it clear what you're getting into. Slight quibble with the lyrics on that last one, specifically the opening verse: "Weeping with no tears/ Insulin in the blood again released." I happen to know a bit about how insulin works and it's most definitely not triggered by weeping with no tears — insulin is released due to rising sugar levels in the blood. So unless "weeping with no tears" is code for "shoving chocolate-glazed donuts into your face," not technically accurate! Don't let that stop you from letting the darkness wash over you. Take Over and Destroy brings the blackened rock'n'roll from Arizona. Cover is $7, everything starts around 11 p.m. and is 21-and-over.
On the completely different side of things, the "original hard-driving, modern Afro-beat and syncopated, horn-driven funk" of Polyrhythmics is at Humboldt Brews. That show is $15, starts at 9:30 p.m. and is also 21-and-over.
Friday brings eardrum-destroying, genre-defining-surf-guitar-master Dick Dale at Scotia's Winema Theatre for $30. Guitar fans of all ages can attend the Dick Dale gig, and the music starts at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7 p.m. If you were hoping to continue wallowing in the dark gloom of self-pity, you're entirely out of luck. Go out and get affirmed.
Saturday offers a chance to celebrate one of the most exciting resurrections in Blue Lake's history — the return of the Logger Bar. One year ago, winsome Kate Martin and her crew recreated and reopened the bar and the community leapt for joy in response. Go help them celebrate with LaPatinas starting at 8:30 p.m.
In not-exactly-live-music news – although one may reasonably expect some demonstration of musical talent – Mr. Humboldt at the ATL. Judging from the press photos of the contestants, this looks to be the sexiest, funniest place to be Saturday night. Please see elsewhere in the Journal for more on this inaugural debut of Humboldt's newest beauty pageant.
Not too many bands could compete with a veritable chorus line of our county's most manly men, but The Meat Puppets offer a tempting alternative at Humboldt Brews. Working from an influential country-punk catalog now spanning decades and supporting the band's newest album, Rat Farm, which is a sort of sunburnt folk evidencing years of honed craft, The Meat Puppets have only gotten better. The World Takes opens. Cover is $15, advance tickets are recommended, music starts around 9:30 p.m. and the show is 21-and-over.
Over at the Alibi on Saturday, Vancouver multi-instrumentalist Jay Arner offers delightfully understated mood pop that ranges from lush post-punk synthscapes to pulsing bass tracks. Think the sparseness of folk music with the mechanics of the most appealing resurgence of Joy Division-esque '80s bands. As usual, 11 p.m. and $5.
Also of interest Saturday night: Striped Pig Stringband with dynamic caller Charmaine Slaven at 7 p.m. in the Arcata Veteran's Hall. Cover is $7 or $6 for Humboldt Folklife Society members, students and seniors, and free for kids 12 and under. Proceeds benefit the Mad River Alliance. Additionally, Bay Area hip-hop icon Too Short appears at in an all-ages show at the Arcata Community Center. Tickets are $30 and the show starts around 8 p.m.
Jumping ahead to Monday, Andrew Bird performs in the Van Duzer Theatre. You might have heard his lushly appealing song "Armchairs." Since those early days of success, Bird has continued his quirky musical odyssey tripping down his own jazz-indie-folk path without being really exactly any one of those things. He's also a hell of a whistler. Tickets are $45, show starts at 8 p.m.
Down in SoHum, Jamaican dancehall artist Shaggy appears at the Mateel Community Center. Tickets are $25 in advance, show starts at 8 p.m.
Here's a supercool show for those appreciative of the fine art of songwriting. Wednesday, Nov. 20, two of America's most respected musicians share the stage, playing separately and together. Yes, it's the Lyle Lovett-John Hiatt show at the Van Duzer at 8 p.m. Tickets are a whopping $75, but if you can swing it, the show should be a memorable one. And I read once that spending money on experiences instead of stuff leads to greater long-term happiness, so if you need an argument to justify the purchase to your partner, there you go.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Eight Days a Week calendar and online. Send your show info and high-res photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.