I was hearing about “Give a Little,” the poppy new hand-clapping earworm by 24-year-old Maggie Rogers, for several days before I finally gave it a spin. Fearing another Meghan Trainor/Cher Lloyd knockoff like “Dog Years,” the only song I’d previously heard by the Maryland-based singer-songwriter, I was pleasantly surprised to find something more guitar-driven and akin to Liz Phair, if Phair had been born late enough to have never seen a working phone booth. That single and the similarly toe-tapping “Fallingwater” will appear on her upcoming debut album, recorded with Grammy-winning producer Greg Kurstin and sporting the same sort of hand-buffed polish he brings to acts like Sia and Adele. Having topped the Spotify charts in over 20 countries with her hit single “Alaska,” from her first EP, she’s currently enjoying a media buzz that even found the New Yorker singing her praises, declaring “Maggie Rogers is an artist of her time.” She just made a surprise guest appearance at the Newport Folk Festival with Mumford & Sons, where she put in a jaw-dropping performance of “Alaska,” already streaming on Youtube (if you check it out, be sure to spin the all-star cover of Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” with Rogers alongside Brandi Carlile and San Diego’s Chris Thile). Her October 19 appearance at Observatory North Park will be opened by 19 year-old Australian electro-pop rapper Grace Shaw, aka Mallrat.
- Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 8 p.m.
Belly Up Tavern,
143 S. Cedros Avenue,
$18 - $32
What do you get when you cross Pink Floyd with the Talking Heads and Phish? An 8-track flashback courtesy of Pink Talking Fish, which takes the art of the mashup to new heights (or depths, ‘pending on your inclination) by melding those three and various other acts into seamless, if pointless, new arrangements. Formed as a side band by founding Particle bassist Eric Gould, it’s not unusual to see them mix Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” with the Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime,” although plenty of other acts have been known to turn up in jams seen on Youtube, including everyone from the Who to Queen, King Crimson, and David Bowie, along with psychedelic staples like the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers. Such novelty can wear out its welcome after a few songs, especially when rendered in the studio, but the players’ studied virtuosity, and obvious fondness for even the silliest hippie-dippy material, keeps their concerts interesting and exciting in much the same manner as a re-read murder mystery or a re-watched episode of CSI: You kinda already know the drill and how it’s gonna end, but there’s almost always some entertaining surprises along the way. They’ve even been known to perform Pink Floyd’s entire album The Wall, interspersed with oddly apropos bits from the Phish-Heads, but expect more of a greatest hits/audience request affair when they take the Belly Up stage October 24 for their third San Diego appearance in two years (both previous gigs took place closer to Deadhead central in OB, at Winstons). As always, tie-dyed and squinty eyed tapers are welcome to set up their recording equipment, as long as the gear neither blocks the view nor harshes the buzz of fellow dudes and dudettes in attendance.
- Sunday, October 28, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
House of Blues,
1055 Fifth Avenue,
One doesn’t expect to come across hardcore punk in Columbus, Ohio (home to Rascal Flatts and Twenty One Pilots) any more than one would expect to find a piece of bear jaw, but Beartooth has always specialized in the unexpected. Their album titles are as fierce and intimidating as their ursine namesake: Sick (2013), Disgusting (2014), Aggressive (2016) and, due in September, Disease. We might not have known the name of that last one, except the title track was “accidentally” leaked online in July along with two new tracks, “Infection” and “Believe.” All three sound like bees living in your head, almost surely the aural affect they’re shooting for. Last year’s Breakthrough Band of the Year winner at the Loudwire Music Awards made its first San Diego appearance at Soma all the way back in 2014, returning several times since to play House of Blues and this year’s Vans Warped Tour. They’ll reconvene at HOB October 28 with a new guitarist, Zach Huston, formerly of Like Moths to Flames.
- Thursday, November 8, 2018, 8 p.m.
Whistle Stop Bar,
2236 Fern Street,
The Whistle Stop continues to up its game with national touring acts, this time bringing in reunited paisley shoegazers Film School on November 8 for the first of only three west coast dates supporting their first full-length in around eight years. It’s impressive how much founding frontman Greg Bertens has grown since their self-titled 2006 debut, which aspired to little more than copping the grooves of bands he wanted to work with— like Pavement (a canny move back when that group was still relevant and peaking). Pavement’s Scott Kannberg signed Film School to his Amazing Grease label, and soon Bertens and assorted co-conspirators were working on diverse and creative projects such as the prolific ad campaign for Windows Vista, which starred comedian Demetri Martin. A lot has changed since then and, like Vista, the group found itself unable to latch onto much of an audience, resulting in a hiatus that ran from around 2011 through 2014. A one-off reunion gig was well-received enough to evolve into a new EP that utilized their most lush and dreamy arrangements to date, earning them enough download ducats to put together their fifth studio album, Bright to Death, due next month via Hauskat Records.
The first single, “Crushin,” is a heavy breathing humjob that jangles like an orchestra of bong-shaped tambourines (or tambourine shaped bongs), awash in swirls of slithery groove, courtesy of four members from their self-titled debut, along with new drummer Adam Wade (Shudder to Think, Jawbox). A second single, “Go Low,” is said to be inspired by Blade Runner 2049’s Officer K character, and it certainly wouldn’t sound out of place alongside any of the trippy Vangelis numbers from the original film’s equally bong-worthy soundtrack.