I've been reading about and looking at a lot of prehistoric art recently. Maybe when the future looks bleak enough, it's a survival instinct to look back at the far distant past. Maybe it's because I've been slowly making my way through David Graeber (RIP) and David Wengrow's excellent 2021 book The Dawn of Everything to try to find some hope in humanity's possibilities. Either way, I was really taken by the communal dance images in the Bhimbetka rock shelters in India, whose Late Stone Age figures really seem to come alive from their frozen motion. And as Matisse's famous duet of paintings suggest, where there is Dance, there is surely Music. What kind of music these ancient people enjoyed and for what purpose I cannot say. Reading Graeber and Wengrow's words has me thinking my own biased American brain, beaten and stirred as it is by the jarring gestalt transition from the Late Television into the Internet Age, is probably not up to the task of working it out. I can only speculate. However, I am much better equipped to explain what musical delights you can have going on this week. I've even made a list! How you choose to enjoy the music and to what purpose, that's strictly up to you. Wouldn't have it any other way.
For years I have cringed at ads and press releases that describe an act as "intelligent" or "conscious" hip hop. All art requires a conscious mind for its realization and, with the exception of the television career of Aaron Sorkin, all successful creative works are in some way intelligent. To attach a useless designator like "intelligent" to a hip hop act degrades the genre as a whole and says a lot about what the writer's opinions are on intellect in general. So, I won't be describing the artists at the Van Duzer at 9 p.m. tonight that way, but rather say that North Bay's Sage the Gemini and Chicago's rising star Ric Wilson have each earned their audiences by having something to say and making that message sound good. I think they're worth your time and, if you're a Cal Poly Humboldt student, the show is free anyway. For the rest of us it's a reasonable $25.
Big metal night tonight with a diverse representation of one of the broadest of musical genres. Sacramento's melodic death act Wastewalker headlines a furious show at RampArt Skatepark at 7 p.m. Local support from Echoes of Ruination, War Möth and Malicious Algorithm promises a diversity of chugs to compliment your headbanging. The posters I have seen around town do not include any info on the cover charge, so I'd bring a few bucks just in case. All ages. If you prefer your metal to be slower and doomier, then tonight's show at the Miniplex is right for you. Seattle duo Bell Witch has teamed up with grim folkster Erik Moggridge aka Aerial Ruin for a collaborative work called Stygian Bough, the first volume of which came out in 2020. I sure liked it. Mysterious act Vouna opens the show at 8:30 p.m. ($20, $15 advance).
I like shows at the Arcata Vet's Hall. The upstairs room has a great floor for dancing and the sound isn't too boomy when there are enough moving bodies on it. And the old Songwriter Circle of Death shows downstairs were an absolute delight. With the new bar down there, I'd say this occasional venue is rapidly becoming a favorite and I am happy to champion it. Which I will be doing tonight at 7:30 p.m. by cordially inviting those of you 21 and up to come and enjoy Side Iron, Dead Drift and Pill for Thrills, three local acts whose names each perfectly capture the region of loud guitar-driven music that they inhabit ($10). Can't forget The Bored Again, aka the solo act of bassist Dave O and the progenitor of the previously mentioned death circle for songwriters.
It's been a while since I've promoted a nice, wholesome, family-friendly event in a place with a liquor license, so here's one for the kiddos, too. Silver Hammer, Humboldt's main supply when it comes to the celebration of the songbook of a little quartet from 1960's Liverpool that you might have heard of, is playing a matinee show at Humbrews at 2 p.m. Ten bucks gets anyone over 12 in the door, and anyone 12 and under gets in Free as a Bird.
Two decades into its career and Portland's Blitzen Trapper is on the road again, bringing its catchy outsider folk country up and down the coast, finding safe harbor in Humbrews tonight at 8 pm. I have always liked this band playing in the background of pleasant memories indoors and out, but have never seen them live, something I might have to rectify tonight. Opening is Portland duo Dead Lee, about whom I know next to nothing beyond that it is the side project of Trapper's drummer Brian Koch ($22, $20 advance).
It's dance night over at the Miniplex, with ramblin' and rovin' Norcal/Nevada singer and rapper Jazzy Jayne teaming up with Lithuanian DJ Diskoteka to throw a leg shaker, pardners. Downtempo singer DANKAA and Humboldt's own rapper Ijal provide support at 8 p.m. ($5-$10 sliding scale).
Touring lords of the West Coast Alt Latin scene, Chicano Batman returns to Arcata to supply its brilliant tropical funk sound to the people. Which people? Why, the ones who can make it to the Arcata Theatre Lounge at 8 p.m. and fork over $29 to the nice folks at the front door. Chicago's poppy fusion act Divino Niño opens up the night's soundscape with its regal and surreal tones.
Collin Yeo (he/him) isn't quite "prehistoric" old, but he was raised in a different world and century, which probably makes him indistinguishable from Ötzi the Iceman to anyone born after 9/11. He lives in Arcata.