Life is weird. Have you noticed that? When you're a kid, you think you have it all figured out, then you get older and realize you don't know much at all, then you think realizing you don't know much is some sort of sign that you're ahead in the game, but then something comes along and you're shocked to understand that, once again, you're caught without a clue. (If you don't have that experience, you're either delusional or too enlightened to be reading this little column. Namaste.) Given all that, I now invite you to forget what you think you know and open up to the following options ...
You presume you recognize a guy, but you don't
Sometimes you might glance at a listing and say to yourself, "Oh, another talented, engaging guy with a guitar. Do I really need to go see that? I'm still trying to catch up on Mad Men ... Maybe I should just stay in." Stop right there. Because Steve Poltz is not just another talented, engaging guy with a guitar. He's astonishing. He's the homemade bread pudding with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce of the singer-songwriter world. You'll regret missing the wild improv, the helpless laughter, the cathartic tears and, yes, the virtuoso guitar playing. At Humboldt Brews, 9:30 p.m., tickets are $15, show is 21-and-over. Grant-Lee Phillips, who kicks ass in his own right — his latest album is drawn from intensive investigations into his native lineage, delving deeply into the subconscious mystery of his own back story, while simultaneously revealing the resonance of ancient myth with contemporary emotions — opens.
It's a wrestling-themed Soul Night at Hum Brews. Expect high-flying hijinks from Matt n' Adam as they "spin the wheels of doom from inside the squared circle." Attire advice: tights, masks, capes and championships belts. Doors at 9 p.m., cover is $5, 21-and-over.
The Jambalaya hosts a night of classic West Coast hip-hop curated by former local Berel Alexander and featuring Pep Love, one of the founding members of the legendary Oakland-based Hieroglyphics. Known for his intricate raps, indelible performances and hard-hitting beats, Pep Love has paved the way for the underground hip-hop scene for years. Think breezy West Coast jams and killer live performances. Up-and-coming Oakland crew Fresh Coast Connection opens — and the group includes Alexander in a role that's a far cry from his better known funk element. DJs Just One and D-Gravy are on spin duty. Dress to impress — how often do you get a chance to bust out the trick duds? Tickets are $10 advance, $15 at the door, show is 21-and-over, and starts at 9 p.m.
Another reason to dress up: the amazing Geoffrey Castle at the Arkley Center. Castle is a six-string electric violinist from Seattle who is kicking off his West Coast tour in Eureka and we cannot overstate the amazingness of this fact. Because Geoff, as he's known, started as a street musician and worked his way up to Broadway, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and other hallowed halls with his ability to bring forth a mind-melting mix of Celtic, Middle Eastern and rock music. He's played in the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of M. Butterfly and enjoys destroying people's preconceived notions of what is possible on a violin — which he does every time he takes the stage. Interesting side note: Castle is also the only electric rock violinist with his own iPhone App; "Violin Guy" lets you turn your phone into a violin where you can play an assortment of Irish and holiday tunes. Show starts at 7 p.m., tickets are $25-$30 depending on seating and recommended in advance.
A story for the ages
One of the reasons I rarely interview bands is because I prefer to assess the possibilities of enjoying their live shows based on their music, not their childhoods. Another reason is because once you start talking to them, there's always a chance you may ask some inane question like, "So, how did you come up with your band name?" I mention this because after reading last week's column, in which I referred to "the wonderfully named Spliff Moth," someone asked me, "Am I missing a joke? What's Spliff Moth mean?"
And that caused this to happen:
Setlist: "Hi! I don't usually ask bands this, but I really love your name. Can you tell me how you came up with it?"
Spliff Moth: "We were smoking a spliff on the porch at our house and a moth flew up to our little gathering. We offered it the spliff and it inhaled and then burst into a thousand lightning bolts. We named the band after its precious little wizard heart. All praise the mystic Spliff Moth."
See? Sometimes it's better not to know.
Anyway, hardcore psychpunks Ex Cult are playing with Dirty Pillows and the previously wonderfully named Spliff Moth at Siren's Song, 8 p.m., $5.
Full show listings in the Journal's Music and More grid, the Eight Days a Week calendar and online. Bands and promoters, send your gig info, preferably with a high-res photo or two, to email@example.com.