Two steps forward, two steps back... two shows by Paula Abdul 'cause opposites attract
  • Two steps forward, two steps back... two shows by Paula Abdul 'cause opposites attract
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Swingin’ Utters at Casbah 8-25

Swingin' Utters

  • Saturday, August 25, 2018, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+ / $15 - $17

For a while, it didn’t look like San Francisco punk rockers Swingin’ Utters would survive into the new century. Founded in the late 80s (though not named Swingin’ Utters until 1994), their glory days included well-regarded chainsaw classics such as The Streets of San Francisco (which earned them a slot on the first Vans Warped Tour) and A Juvenile Product of the Working Class. High-profile tours with the Damned, Rancid, and Dropkick Murphys seemed to place them at the brink of a mass market breakthrough, but then, just a couple of years into the 2000s, the band imploded. Founding singer Johnny “Peebucks” Bonnel and longtime guitarist-singer (since 1989) Darius Koski still seemed to play well together in the band Filthy Thievin’ Bastards, but the duo didn’t seem interested in milking any more Utters until a 2010 tribute album revived both interest in the band and the band’s own interest. The next few years of reunion releases saw more original members splitting off, leaving Bonnel and Koski as the band’s only pre-21st century players taking the Casbah stage on August 25. They’re touring in support of their fourth compilation album, last year’s Drowning in the Sea, Rising with the Sun, sporting 33 tracks, including several previously unreleased.

Gregory Alan Isakov at Music Box 10-14

Gregory Alan Isakov

  • Sunday, October 14, 2018, 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Music Box, 1337 India Street, San Diego
  • 18+ / $30 - $37

It’s been a long time since anybody on the charts aspired to be the next John Denver, but Colorado troubadour Gregory Alan Isakov seems to think he’s the guy. He began self-releasing soft wilderness rock in 2003, taking his acoustic guitar on the road with RIYL compadres such as Nathaniel Rateliff, Blind Pilot, and Iron & Wine, soon amassing a loyal among the NPR and coffeehouse crowds. 2013’s The Weatherman remains his high water mark to date (it debuted at number one on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter chart), at least as far as his solo act goes, but he picked up a lot of new listeners in 2016 with a symphonic album featuring the Colorado Symphony backing him on a greatest hits performance. Evening Machines, his fourth studio album and first in five years, is due October 5, with a support tour bringing him to the Music Box October 14. The first single, “Chemicals,” has been released, and a video is streaming online for “Liars.” Listening to the former and watching the latter, it’s evident that his orchestral experience has inspired him to beef up his high Rocky Mountain sound with less mountain and more high, piling on added layers and textures, including somewhat Pink Floydian undercurrent clutter, all recorded at a converted barn studio on Isakov’s Colorado farm.

Dance With the Dead at Brick by Brick 10-30

Dance With the Dead

  • Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 8 p.m.
  • Brick by Brick, 1130 Buenos Avenue, San Diego
  • 21+

Brick by Brick is mostly known for hard rock and heavy metal, so it’s always interesting when they bring in something as far off their back-beaten path as electronic duo Dance With the Dead, who’ll stage a night-before-Halloween show on October 30 certain to be filled with dancing dead. Orange County oddballs Justin Pointer and Tony Kim have a new album due in mid-August, Loved to Death, which sounds for all the world like the soundtrack to a movie never made by Dario Argento, John Carpenter, and Brian Eno, at least judging from the half-dozen preview tracks so far released. To put on the headphones and press play is to induce a total 8-track flashback of analog synths, robot talking guitars, and oh so much corduroy and cowbell on the dance floor. Which is what makes synthwave acts such a novelty in a concert setting like Brick by Brick, where you’ll find the unusual pairing of open shirt partyers dying to dance staring face-to-beard with leather-clad metal heads who’ll bang their heads into a concussion, but wouldn’t shake their booties if you threatened to jam a gun between their butt cheeks.

Paula Abdul at Jacobs Music Center 11-13

Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul

She wasn’t always all judge-y. Back in 1990, when I was still writing cartoon bios for Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics, we announced that issue 41 would chronicle the life and career of 28-year-old pop star Paula Abdul, and you wouldn’t believe how utterly that seemed to freak people out. Coming between issues on NWA and Metallica, readers and reviewers complained that Abdul was too lightweight to take seriously, and some even threatened to boycott the line if we went through with our plans. And yet, out of around 150 music comics that we published, the Abdul issue remains one of the fastest selling titles we ever released, eventually becoming one of the company’s biggest books. Remember, long before American Idol, X-Factor, and So You Think You Can Dance, Abdul had huge hits with tracks like “Straight Up” and “Opposites Attract,” the latter becoming immortal if only for the ‘toontown video co-starring an animated MC Scat Cat. Both videos were highlighted by the same sort of diva choreography since popularized by next-gen models like Beyonce and Nicki Minaj, so the time may indeed be ripe for the comeback tour that brings her first solo outing in a quarter century to Jacobs Music Center on November 13. Her half-dozen or so hits also included “Rush Rush,” “Cold Hearted,” “The Promise of a New Day,” and “Forever Your Girl,” but it’s the deep cuts from her 1988-1995 back catalogue that hold the most promise. Obscure gems she wasn’t able to pull from the vault for last year’s pop package tour with New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men would include “Knocked Out” (co-written and produced by Babyface and L.A. Reid) and left field but well-conceived covers she’s recorded over her career, such as Prince’s “U” and John Hiatt’s “Alright Tonight.” Abdul also appears at Pechanga on November 9.

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