Sufjan Stevens at McFarlin Auditorium
About twice a year, SMU's McFarlin Auditorium plays host to an interesting musical act. A while back, it was renowned bad boy Ryan Adams, and now it's noted singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. Stevens' relatively mellow progressive folk (and, more recently, electronica) has always drawn critical kudos and established the Detroit native as a major force on the indie scene. Now he's touring in support of The Age of Adz, his first full-length studio effort since 2005's Illinois. Adz is an odd but kinda great album that features electronics mixed with full orchestration. Stevens has successfully created his own sub genre on this one: techno-symphonic folk.
Gorillaz and N.E.R.D. at The Verizon Theater
As much a musical project as a regular rock band, England's Gorillaz creates its own musical universe, complete with a virtual, experimental hip-hop band comprised of comic book characters. The fact that such an original and esoteric concept has actually proved hugely successful is either a tribute to ingenuity of the band or testimony to society's valuing of style over substance. N.E.R.D. opens the "show" with its relatively straight-laced amalgam of rock and hip-hop. N.E.R.D.'s fourth full length, Nothing, is due out in a couple of weeks. Satraj Chowdhruy caught up with lead N.E.R.D. dude Pharrell Williams on the blog earlier today.
The Script at the House of Blues
Hailing from Dublin, The Script is a serious-minded quartet that tackles big issues like the economic and political climate within the band's home country. Science & Faith, The Script's sophomore album, came out in September and features an epic sound that's not unlike fellow Irish acts U2 and Van Morrison. However, The Script's approximation of American soul and blues comes off as a little contrived, as if the Irish lads are trying out for American Idol. There are worse aspirations, I suppose.
The Summer Set, Stereo Skyline, Mod Sun, Austin Gibbs and School Boy Humor at The Prophet Bar
Arizona's The Summer Set is a quality pop-punk band that actually made Usher's "Love in This Club" sound somewhat indie. But that's kind of what the band does: In a shining example of cleverness, The Summer Set recently released Love Like Swift, a reissue of the band debut that was originally titled Love Like This, which adds--you guessed it--five Taylor Swift cover tunes to the mix. New York's Stereo Skyline adds some nice power-pop moves to this crowded, well-coiffed bill. Their full-length debut, Stuck on Repeat, came out in July and is better than the album title might suggest. Minnesota's Mod Sun, Austin Gibbs (another Arizonian) and Little Rock's School Boy Humor complete this festival-length bill that should rock far into the evening.