by Zachary Corsa
In the interest of keeping it real, let’s all just admit that summer isn’t the easiest time to appreciate living in the Mid-South. In such a climate as ours, even the slightest of every day tasks becomes a grueling Olympiad of blistering-hot steering wheels and humidity that feels as if you’re swimming through some invisible pool of misery. In keeping with the tenor of all things nationwide lately, summer of 2022 has been especially trying, with even higher temperatures than usual and few of the typical furious thunderstorms to provide fleeting relief from the relentless heat. Thankfully, August is soon upon us, a month typically seen as summer’s last smoldering embers, an early sign of chillier and cozier days to come. So in advanced celebration of the eventual demise of Memphis summer, 2022, here’s five shows coming up in August that are guaranteed to take your mind off the swelter, and perhaps put you in a cooled-down state of mind.
Cobra Man & The Worble, Snooper
8 PM August 1 at the Hi-Tone – Big Room Upstairs
On the very first night of the new month, our buds at Goner & Wiseacre Brewing are teaming up to welcome August with a lineup that sounds like a real firecracker. Los Angeles “power disco’ duo Cobra Man come very much as advertised, their dusty vinyl groove and wavy analog synths offset by beguiling, soulful vocals that drip with sensuality and cocaine-stained excess. Their recent collaborations with eccentric skateboard crew The Worble are more than a throwback treat, they’re a fever-dream contact high. Also along for the ride are gleeful Nashville post-punkers Snooper, who serve up bite-sized nuggets of energetic lo-fi hooks, calling to mind classic Wipers records fronted by an overjoyed Ana De Silva. If there’s a better way to kick off summer’s impending retreat, I honestly can’t imagine one.
7 PM August 4 at Young Avenue Deli
Long-running Memphian psych-pop outfit SPACEFACE still represent the best of Memphis music’s stranger depths, ranking alongside left-of-center weird touchstones like early solo Alex Chilton records and the infamous new-wavers of Dog Police. Over the years they’ve shared members with legendary Oklahoma oddballs The Flaming Lips, and much like that band’s gradual embrace of Pet Sounds baroque-pop and soft-focus electronics, SPACEFACE’s newest works ride the groove right up to the edge of cosmic disco and starry-eyed fluorescent pop. It’s a lysergic mirror-ball as enchanting as it is all-enveloping, and if that’s not your bag, frankly it should be. Go see ‘em for free, I insist.
And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, New Candys
8:30 PM August 13 at the Hi-Tone – Big Room Upstairs
Near-constant lineup changes, explosive gear destruction, regrettable onstage fights – Austin’s Trail Of Dead embody controversy, unflinching in their reputation for being a ‘dangerous’ band. Jason Reece, Conrad Keely, and whoever else seems to be around have indulged in post-prog excess to dizzying success, including a hotly-debated perfect 10.0 from Pitchfork for 2002’s Source Tags & Codes. In the years since, they’ve refused to compromise their vision in the least to match anyone else’s perception of ‘success’, and for better or worse, they’re unhinged true believers in rock music as spiritual salve and fountain of youth. Nearly thirty years after their founding, they still demand to be seen in a live setting, and the chance to catch them in an intimate space like The Hi-Tone seals the deal. Throw in the swaggering Venetian fuzz-pop of New Candys as a tasty appetizer? That’s even better.
Sun Not Yellow, Runi Salem, S P A C E R
7 PM August 11 at Lamplighter Lounge
The Lamp is all about good vibes on any night of the week, but there’s likely to be a truly awesome over-abundance of such on the evening of August 11th. The Pennsylvanians of Sun Not Yellow marry peppy post-punk bursts of snarling guitar with the kind of achingly-vulnerable vocal delivery that folks like Oso Oso would certainly appreciate, and who doesn’t love those two exact things together? Meanwhile, a pair of Memphian acts fill out the bill, and the first, Runi Salem, adds sultry soul and smoky haze to the festivities, conjuring low-lit bedrooms and hard-luck heartache. Finally, the guitar-and-drums dynamic duo S P A C E R kick up significant clouds of garage-rock dust before scattering the particles across orbit in a blossoming glow of mellow dream-pop ebb. Three great bands, seven whole dollars, and if you haven’t been to the Lamp, you’re sure to love the junt. Decision made.
Sunset Jazz at Court Square ft. Frog Squad
6 PM August 14 at Court Square Park
We’ve written about Frog Squad a few times here at WAMM, and there’s a good reason for that, since they’re absolutely riveting. The Memphis-based improvisatory sound collective are restless sonic innovators, nodding towards jazz fusion and free jazz before ripping up those genre’s rulebooks completely, unearthing unheard configurations of sound as if they’ve discovered a new color, with David Collins’ nimble and chromatic fretwork leading the charge. The 14th offers a thrilling opportunity to catch Frog Squad in a perfectly-suitable habitat: a free and early show in the gorgeous setting of Court Square Park. And what’s even better is that Sunday Jazz At Court Square is an ongoing program hosted by Just Jazzin’, so grab something tasty from the food trucks and settle on down.