Whether you're giddy with the season or cranky from the cold, this week's music offerings are worth celebrating. Even if you have to throw on an extra layer or four.
The first absolutely-must-see gig happens Thursday night when the Mediterranean-inflected, globalized electronica sound wonder that is Balkan Beat Box storms the Arcata Theatre Lounge. Founded by Israeli-born ex-pats Ori Kaplan, formerly of Gogol Bordello, and Tamir Muskat, best known for his stint in the seminal band Firewater, Balkan Beat Box first burst out of New York City's underground music scene in 2005. The pair brought in Tomer Yosef as frontman, upping the band's energy from irresistible to crazed. But for all the wonderful madness, BBB has a thoughtful side, too. Inspired by last year's people's protest movements across the globe — from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street to Israel's own massive social protests — Balkan Beat Box's new album Give captures the cautious hope and re-energized spirit of that time. All three members also became fathers since the previous album. In press for Give, Tomer explains, "When you have kids, you become a little more aware of what's happening in the world and what kind of world that we're leaving your kids." He describes Give's recording sessions as playing the band's "most hardcore" songs with their kids running around and playing in the middle of it all. "I think that gave things a hopeful vibe, too," Yosef said. "It reminds us that we're fighting for something, not just against everything." Tickets for Balkan Beat Box are $22.50 or $20 in advance — highly recommended — at People's Records, Wildberries, The Works and at arcatatheatre.com. Doors at 9 p.m. Sorry, kids, but this is 21-and-over.
"The only good system is a sound system." So sayeth the producers of Sound Culture, your electronic boost at the Jambalaya, also on Thursday night. This month, it's the "Win the Future" tour with Dubvirus, Psy Fi and local Chris Que, plus visuals by Dumps. This endlessly danceable option will only set you back $5. Also 21-and-over. Doors at 9 p.m.
Here's your other must-see gig, this one on Friday. See, as someone who grew up in a cultural wasteland, surviving only via radio brought in from the outside world during a time when punk and new wave were still considered dangerously subversive by middle school principals and parents, the descriptions of NOBUNNY's show at the Ink Annex brought glee to my heart. From Jesse Pearson, show promoter: "NOBUNNY has a pretty big underground following, this should be a big show, last time they played the Shanty, people from the Bay Area made the trip up to see them, it was crazy, the singer takes all his clothes off and wears a freaky rabbit mask!" From the Journal's calendar section: "Songs that sound like they were written by a punk-rock mutant from the future." From Goner Records, NOBUNNY's label: "Sometime, you may find yourself broke, unable to get laid and, despite it all, constantly surrendering to the urge to sit around all day, get high, jerk off and eat candy. Times like these it feels like no can help, no one understands ... nobody except NOBUNNY, that is." The show is, appropriately, all ages and $5. Local lovelies The Lost Luvs bring the '60s-style garage rock and Dirty Pillows suggest you might enjoy some "sick fucking garage rock!" Beer is available to those 21-and-over with ID. Doors at 7 p.m.
If all that rabbity nonsense doesn't appeal to you, never fear! Four other options await to fulfill your live music needs. Technicolor Hearts, Rider Rosie and Blood Gnome bring dreamy synthscapes, one-woman French folk and all-girl synthpop, respectively, to the Palm Lounge — for free! Show's 21-and-over and gets started around 10 p.m.
Over at The Siren's Song, rowdy country boys Cliff Dallas & The Death Valley Troubadours rock with Electro Saloon, an acid country spinoff starring members of Strix Vega and Patronus. Music time is said to be 8:30 p.m. This free show is the musical equivalent of oysters and chocolate. In addition to the verrry romantic croonings of Dallas et al, last time Electro Saloon played at The Works, folks ended up making out in their cars for hours. So best leave the kids at home.
In yet another lust-inducing option, the ever-sexy Rooster McClintock, Humboldt County's number one honky-tonk band, tears it up at the Logger Bar starting around 9 p.m. Another free 21-and-over show.
Finally, for something a bit more heady, the lovely, at times ethereal, Shook Twins return to Humboldt Brews. Tickets are only $10 in advance, and that's how you should get them. Doors at 9 p.m., 21-and-over.
Dungeon Heat goes live at The Works for their first public appearance Saturday night in what sounds like a very unusual show, even for this place. Here's the event descript: "Joined with the hand of Dr. Foxmeat and The Bored Again, this show is sure to make your head explode! In the best way possible. With a fantasy-style theatrical set and crazy costumes, it is not to be missed!" Cool — as long as the head exploding is in the best way possible, I'm all about it. Gig starts at 7 p.m., is free and should be all ages.
The Arcata rock scene gets its weekly infusion at the Alibi when Humboldt Free Radio presents Long Beach's Slig, psych rock so heavy you'll feel like you're rocking out on Jupiter. Locals Indianola open. Show's for those 21-and-over, cover's $5, music starts shortly after 11 p.m.
On a totally different front, it's a dancetacular evening at Hum Brews when, armed with an array of classic club hits, ghetto-tech and bounce music, DJs Matt'n'Adam, Dacin and La Dolce Video's own Merrick will attempt to answer T Pain's immortal question, "Is autotune really dead?" Find out at Guilty Pleasures 4: The Search for the #1 Stunna when the DJs dig out sweaty club bangers and other beloved favorites. DJ Matt recommends you "take off your trimmer clothes, dig out something skimpy and gather around the greatness that is Robert Kelly." This is a $5 good time starting at 9 p.m. (Here's a good place to mention that the next Soul Night is Saturday, Nov. 30. Theme is "Tryptophan Pajama Jam." Get your tickets early!)
And then, back in Eureka, it's another giddy-sounding Where's Queer Bill celebration. This one is a pajama party featuring DJ Razorburns and DJ Joe-E, plus a midnight pillow fight. Cover's $5, doors at 9 p.m. and it all takes place at Nocturnum, which means it's a 21-and-over good time. Billed (ha!) as "the North Coast's only consistent monthly LGBTQ party, targeted specifically for our community and those who support us," organizers emphasize that all WQB events are not only always gay-friendly, but welcoming to friendly straights as well.
One half of the mighty Tenacious D, Kyle Gass brings his awesomeness and killer band to Humboldt Brews on Sunday night. Get that $15 advance ticket and try to control your giggles 'til the appropriate time.
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.