If you like music — real music, not the pop fluff that fills the airwaves and tops the charts — take off your purple Wayfarers and watch Alejandro Escovedo wield his guitar with the lust for life of a man back from the dead. After all, Escovedo literally is back from the dead. After collapsing following a show in 2003 from undiagnosed Hepatitis C, Escovedo is reincarnated with an earnest and acoustically complex sound. Opening for The Sex Pistols’ final show in 1978 as a member of the punk Nuns, Escovedo played an integral role in a number of bands before going on to start his solo career. After recently releasing his ninth solo album, Real Animal, it’s clear that this veteran singer, guitarist and songwriter understands the effort and range of experience that translates into excellent, honest music. So perhaps you ought to put those sunglasses back on after all, hipster: you might not be ready for something this real. (Appearing with The Waco Brothers, Bobby Bare Jr., Scotland Yard Gospel Choir and others as part of Bloodshot Records’ 15th Anniversary Beer-B-Q at The Hideout on September 12) –text: Diana Novak–photo: Mick Rock
ALICE IN CHAINS
Iconic Seattle grunge/metal heroes Alice In Chains are back despite the death of lead singer Layne Staley, who lost his battle with drug addiction in 2002. Surviving members Jerry Cantrell (guitar/vocals), Mike Inez (bass), and Sean Kinney (drums) reunited in 2005 for a tsunami relief benefit show and added Atlanta’s William DuVall on lead vocals. Despite the hiatus and lineup change, they have maintained their distinct ’90s-era metal/grunge/ heavy rock sound layered with harmonized melodic vocals that produced hit after hit in their heyday. AIC is currently touring to support the release of its first album in 14 years, Black Gives Way to Blue, named after a song on the album that pays tribute to Layne while featuring Elton John on piano. They will likely share the stage with many bands that have been influenced by the music of their successful 20-year career along the way. (Appearing at House of Blues on September 19) –text: Ariel Sundel
BOBBY BARE JR.
Don’t sneer at Bobby Bare Jr. and his country sound, city folks — this country isn’t like anything you might have caught coming from Carrie Underwood. The wild-looking Bare sings worldly, thoughtful lyrics (many composed with the help of his late friend Shel Silverstein) backed by rhythmic guitar more akin to Phish than Kenny Chesney. There’s no twangy sound to his music despite his deep Nashville roots. The twang is, however, replaced by an unmistakable marijuana sound. A beachy, psychedelic attitude and some straightforward guitar chords make Bare and his band The Young Criminals Starvation League a pretty damn original kind of country. With five records out over the past seven years, these guys have quite a serious repertoire on their hands. So lie to your uptight, judgmental friends about Bare’s genre of choice and take them to the show. We promise he won’t give you up. (Appearing with Alejandro Escovedo, Waco Brothers, The Blacks, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir and others as part of Bloodshot Records’ 15th Anniversary Beer-B-Q at The Hideout on September 12) –text: Diana Novak
PET SHOP BOYS
For those who seek out good electronic dance music, it’s hard to go wrong with famed U.K. duo Pet Shop Boys. Formed in the early ‘80s, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe rocketed to stardom with their highly successful 1986 debut, Please. The record went triple platinum and released hit singles “West End Girls” and “Love Comes Quickly”, the former of which became an ‘80s music staple with its brand of infectious glitch-pop suited for any night out in the club. Far more popular in the U.K. than in the U.S., Pet Shop Boys managed to rack up 22 “top 10″ hits throughout their 2-decade career — as well as a large gay following. The band also helped to define the early electronic sound of that era, influencing countless current electronic acts. Pet Shop Boys continued their prolific output throughout the ‘90s, but never reached the same level of success as their first couple of records. In 2009, Pet Shop Boys are at it again — having just released their tenth album, Yes. (Appearing at The Chicago Theatre on September 14) –text: Garin Pirnia