Live music highlights for the week of Feb. 13, 2019
A true Philly phreak, Ron Gallo is like the answer to the unasked question, “What do you get if you cross Fidlar with the B-52s?” Surfy, trashy and explosive, Gallo’s rock has a lot of the same forward momentum as Fidlar, without the air of music industry poserdom that wafts off those Angelenos. Then there’s Gallo’s playfulness, the weirdo trash-Beatles moments, and the voice-cracking rants reminiscent of ol’ Fred Schneider himself. It’s a little obnoxious, but that’s the point. MIKE HUGUENOR
INFO: 9 p.m. The Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $16 adv/$18 door. 429-4135.
THE IKE WILLIS PROJECT
You can’t spell “Romance” without “r,” “a,” or “n,” all of which appear in the name “Frank,” like Frank Zappa. Coincidence? I doubt it. Ike Willis, longtime Zappa sideman, knows this, which is why he scheduled his Santa Cruz show for Valentine’s Day, the most RomANtic night of the year. Having played on nearly all of Zappa’s albums from 1978-88, Willis’ guitar and voice were critical to Zap’s freaky formula, especially on Joe’s Garage, which featured Willis as “Joe.” MH
INFO: 8 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Drive, Santa Cruz. $20 adv/$25 door. 479-1854.
After a 10-year hiatus from her decades-long career, singer-songwriter and bassist Laura Love is back with her signature sound of sparse, impassioned, from-the-heart blend of folk and funk. Her sweet, even-tempered vocals underscore simple and soulful tunes that might be considered “softies” until her blunt lyrics smash through to the forefront and demand that the listener confronts the realities of trauma and loss. Love’s melodic voice comes in handy in these more traumatic moments, holding the listener’s hand, promising them that once they pass through the darkness, there will be light on the other side. AMY BEE
INFO: 7:30 p.m., Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $25. 423-8209.
Y LA BAMBA
Latin-folk indie auteur Luz Elena Mendoza weaves the traditional with the universal—and distills it through personal experience—with her band Y La Bamba. It would be easy to focus merely on her superb, often-eccentric stylings of retro cumbia, mariachi, multicultural storytelling, and indie-folk leanings. But to Mendoza, the music (however catchy and pleasing to the ear) is a means to express the adventures and perils of exploring identity, especially her own. Y La Bamba is all about confronting narrative—who gets to tell the story and define identity, and what happens when a person decides that they are the author of their own tale. AB
INFO: 9 p.m. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $15 adv/$20 door. 479-1854.
Some know him as Turbo. Others know him as an alien among human beings. Whatever you call Oliver Tree, this local-turned-underground-pop-star returns to his roots the day after Valentine’s Day to save our wretched souls. Tree has shed blood, sweat and tears in creating danceably dark pop songs that float, like a large cloud of cotton candy vapor, between hip-hop and electronic. Bust out those Jnco pants, buy plenty of Flaming Hot Cheetos and make sure your bowl cut is on point, because royalty is coming and he’s bringing his freshest Dixie Cup attire. MAT WEIR
INFO: 9 p.m. Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $18. 423-8209.
Canadian indie singer-songwriter Daniel Romano released three albums last year. The first two, Nerveless and Human Touch, were released at the same time, and without warning. The third, Finally Free, came out near the end of the year and is one of his oddest releases to date. His normal appetite for psych-folk songwriting is on display, but he lets himself stray from the confines of “being in tune,” and just goes along with a his most bizarre, off-kilter impulses. And guess what? It’s really compelling and emotive. AC
INFO: 9 p.m. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10 adv/$12 door. 429-6994.
For those who have ever wanted to experience the grinding chaos that it is to be devoured, look no further than Massachusetts duo Eaten. Their second release, which is self-titled, dropped in 2017, and is a brutal assault on every human sense, especially decency. On Feb. 16, they will rain terror upon the Blue Lagoon, along with Oakland headbangers Choke and XHOSTAGEX, and local heshers Dead War. As an added bonus, Santa Cruz’s own Chitlvn will make their blasphemous debut. MW
INFO: 8 p.m. Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 423-7117.
THE BAD PLUS
All too often, jazz bands are ephemeral aggregations, with even the most dedicated outfits sometimes performing with subs covering for players working other gigs. For almost two decades, the Bad Plus served as exhibit A, demonstrating the power of group unity via bassist Reid Anderson, drummer Dave King and pianist Ethan Iverson. Iverson’s departure last year, and the arrival of Orrin Evans—a commanding improviser with an Afrocentric style—has recalibrated the collective’s sound. The trio captured the moment of transition with last year’s Never Stop II. ANDREW GILBERT
INFO: 7 p.m. Kuumbwa Jazz, 320-2 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. $36.75 adv/$42 door. 427-2227.