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The Curtain Hits the Cast

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I woke up on Sunday thinking about writing about the upcoming election, maybe some piece where I ramp up the direness of the results to see if I am actually a modern-day Cassandra or just another crank (probably). Instead, I was greeted by the news that Mimi Parker, one half of my favorite band, had succumbed to ovarian cancer. The band is Low and I have been a huge fan since I first saw them as a teenager. Let me sing praises of Parker's genius for a moment, if you don't mind. What made Low special was the dynamic between Parker, who played drums standing up and sang in a lovely soprano, and her husband, guitarist/vocalist Alan Sparhawk. The songs were slow and filled with open spaces, inhabited by both the incredible harmonies of the two and a dissonance created by the lyrical darkness, and the tensions built around maintaining order. Imagine a calliope on top of a vast and near-exploding boiler, with the only thing preventing catastrophe being the wisps of musical beauty escaping the pipes at key moments. That was Low. Over three decades, they released, from their Duluth home, records full of songs that found starlight in the deepest trenches, and breathed warmth over frozen bones and dead cornstalks. I don't want to get maudlin — their music certainly never was — nor too despairing because there was also genuine humor among the sadness. In songs like "Sunflower" and "Canada," you will find a wry smile woven into the melodies. But that's often the set-up for the devastators, songs like "(That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace" and "Mom Says." But if you really want to hear what the late, great Mimi Parker could do, listen to "In Metal," the last song off of 2001's Things We Lost in the Fire. In this song you will find the sweetest expression of postpartum fears, with Parker singing about the desire to keep her baby's little body, like its baby shoes, safe, forever in metal. I dare you to come out of the other side of that tune with dry eyes. Oh, and they also did a good Christmas album. Just throw a dart at their discography and you will hit something transcendent. RIP.

Thursday

Los Angeles' night-rock-coastal-vibes act La Luz is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a tour bringing the quartet to the John Van Duzer Theatre tonight at 9 p.m. Known for a kinetic stage presence and a sound that builds rock monuments out of the hazy sheen of big city, West Coast noir, this is a fun band. and at $18, the price is right. If you are a Cal Poly Humboldt student, the price is even right-er, as it is free.

Friday

Multi-instrumentalist, visionary, concept artist and all-around sonic magician Arrington de Dionyso returns to the Miniplex tonight for an 8 p.m. show. He will be joined by the rhythm section of White Manna, and members of Die Geister Beschwören and Medicine Baul, performing under the moniker The Uncredible Phin Band, named after the electric Thai lute guitar that will doubtless feature prominently in the mix. If you are a phan of phin music, or enjoy out-there music played with zeal and excellence, tonight's your night ($10).

Saturday

The Arcata Theatre Lounge is hosting a Harvester's Ball with EDM DJ acts, so I guess there must still be whisps and vapors left in the tank of our county's flailing cannabis industry. At 9 p.m. and for $20 ($15 if you pay in advance), you will find David Starfire, Savaj, Akritza and Dissolv making the big sounds on the big stage.

An hour earlier over at the Miniplex, a different kind of party will be going down, helmed by Tulsa duo Sports, whose sound is a funky collection of pop harmonies and roller-disco-rock gems, stitched together by jackknife turns from the beats and samples. Joining these Okie boys as co-headliners are the Bay Area's Hot Flash Heat Wave, a trio that, while still within the first decade of its minting, has built a sound that thumbs through your vinyl with sticky fingers and kicks out the most energetic jams, regardless of specific genre, although art punk is a common denominator. And finally, there's Sipper, a group from New York City and the youngest act on the bill. Powerfully prolific since its inception in 2019, this one is a bedroom band firing cannons out the windows at the world's dance floors ($15, $10 advance).

Sunday

Here's a quirky show over at Blondies. Portland's Foot Ox recently got some footing when one of its tracks "Angel Eyes and Basketball" went semi-viral on TikTok, that open-user platform whose hyper-quick videos are annihilating the membrane-thin attention spans of at least one generation like a purifying supernova. But don't hold that against Foot Ox, whose sonic collages are actually pretty charming, if mildly annoying. Included on the bill are some new Arcata acts, including The Guiding Water and New Saturday Mourning Light Through a Window, a project by soundmeister Chini, who is definitely not trying to beat any landspeed records with that new name. Fuck it, I'll go. At 9 p.m. for $5.

Monday

Metal Mondays continue over at Savage Henry Comedy Club at 7 p.m. Tonight's bill is a full roster, featuring Greybush, Psyop Victim, War Möth and a band whose name was told to me once, quickly forgotten (my bad) and then utterly impossible to decipher from the flier due to that occasional metalhead habit of borrowing graphic design ideas by scrying out meaning from the spiderweb-patterns found on shattered windshields and cracked vinyl headrests. Because I don't know how to read car accident, I can't report on this one, but I'm sure if you show up and fork over the $10, someone knowledgeable will give you the info.

Tuesday

Apropos nothing, if you are involved in any way with the booking over at Siren's Song Tavern, could you please drop me a line? I have been getting so much conflicting information about your shows and while I would love to feature some more of them in this column, separating the signal from the noise hasn't been easy. Let's fix that.

Wednesday

Early-ish show over at the Miniplex (8 p.m.), which means if you have work, school, etc., you can still go without guilt and be abed by eight bells. Sgt. Papers is a Mexican rock band whose thrashy, pop-psychedelia will not fail to pick you up. Also appearing is Tuscon's Anchorbaby, a tropicalia act performing soundtrack pieces to '70s Italian Giallo horror films. Seems promising. ($12, $10 advance).

Collin Yeo (he/him) lives in Arcata.

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