Tonight, Tonight: Liz Phair at the Granada, Dawes at Dada, Helmet at South Side Music Hall, Appleseed Cast at The Loft and David Lindley at the Kessler

A busy, busy Thursday evening tonight as the weekend cranks up a day early. SXSW crossover travel is certainly adding to our own scene's musical hustle and bustle...

Liz Phair and THe BAcksliders at the Granada Theater
Exile to Guyville, Liz Phair's 1993 debut, was ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top 500 albums of all time, and Guyville does deserve such accolades. Problem is, most of her releases after that were lame attempts at selling out -- that didn't sell, oddly enough. Of course, Phair blames it all on evil major label record companies. And, certainly, the labels deserve a lot of the blame for trying to sanitize Phair's natural rebelliousness. In any case, once free of her label, Phair issued the strangest record of her career, last year's Funstyle. Featuring absurd attempts at rapping (along with some solid power pop), Funstyle at least made Phair sound compelling for the first time in a long while.

Dawes, Deer Tick and Middle Brother at Club Dada
Quite probably the best trio of bands in one venue happens tonight at Dada, even though one act is actually a mixture of members from the other two. Brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith lead Dawes, a nice folk/rock quartet out of Los Angeles. A lot weirder is the indie/alt-country of Rhode Island's Deer Tick, a five-piece led by the oftentimes warped and wonderful John McCauley. And starting things off tonight will be Middle Brothers, a supergroup of sorts that features Taylor Goldsmith, John McCauley and Matt Vasquez from the band Delta Spirit. Middle Brother's music is, as you may have guessed, a little harder than Dawes and a little softer than Deer Tick. Is it just right? You be the judge.

Helmet, Saint Vitas, Crowbar, Kylesa, Red Fang, Howl, The Atlas Moth and Turbid North at the South Side Music Hall
Eight bands? Even with doors opening at 5, lord knows when Helmet (who is co-headlining this tour with doom metal legends Saint Vitus) will hit the stage. It's uncertain whether or not your standard metal heads have such patience, but if they do possess such fortitude, they will ultimately be rewarded. Helmet's Page Hamilton is writing some of the best songs of his career as evidenced by the group's 2010 effort, Seeing Eye Dog.

The Appleseed Cast, Muscle Worship and Mansion at The Loft
If the endless bill of metal happening downstairs in the South Side Music Hall isn't your cup of tea, just head up the stairs into The Loft to catch the heady indie rock of The Appleseed Cast. The band is about to issue a new EP and many wonder if they will return to the song-oriented material of 2006's Peregrine or the more free form, instrumental approach of 2009's Sagarmatha. Either way, this unique outfit plays thoughtful music for folks who have grown too old for emo.

David Lindley and Jim Suhler at the Kessler Theater
Best known for his work with Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon, David Lindley is one of rock's most underrated guitarists. He can play just about any stringed instrument, and his work with Ry Cooder is especially rewarding. Those wanting to hear Lindley in his absolute prime should search out the three albums from El Rayo X, the band Lindley lead in the early '80s. Local guitar legend Jim Suhler opens what should be a brilliant display of musicianship.

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Darryl Smyers
Contact: Darryl Smyers