Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal
7 p.m. Walmart AMP, Rogers. Sold out.
"Blues? What blues?" Kenny Chesney sang on the mellow wish-fulfillment anthem "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems," but he wasn't fooling anyone, and he knew it. Simply put: Chesney is and has always been the saddest frat guy in the world. Even his up-tempo crowd-pleasers bespeak a world of icy darkness at the center of his being. Remember that his first great song was an homage to the Tin Man from "The Wizard of Oz," to whom Chesney dreamed of giving his heart, so that "I wouldn't have to feel it breaking all apart, and this emptiness inside would suit me fine." This emptiness inside. This from a man who had recently graduated from college with a degree in advertising. He must have been a real hit at the Lambda Chi house. All of his songs are like this, oozing nostalgia and despondency, broken potential and ruined relationships. Like The Cure frontman Robert Smith, Chesney anthropomorphizes his depression, uses it as an instrument. "Pieces of our past slowly slip away," he whines on "When I See This Bar," a perfectly engineered vibe-killer. Or take the absurdly downbeat opening lines for his latest single "Save It for a Rainy Day": "It's no secret that lately there ain't no escape," he sings, practically sobbing, "and that I've been waking up alone." Longtime listeners will be unhappily reminded of 2012's "Come Over" — "I don't think that I can take this bed getting any colder," he sang back then. I guess he was wrong. WS
8 p.m. Vino's. $5.
Fans of anime and malt liquor and early Odd Future are encouraged to check out Little Rock rap collective Vile Pack, whose music is unfriendly and unforgiving and often very good, even if they'd rather offend you than impress you. Last year's mixtape "Cocaine Demon" was memorable mostly for the aural contrast of rappers Hector $lash and Wolfy Mane (who boasts one of the city's best and most distinctive voices), over beats by Warren Gesu$ and Young Gods of America's Fresco Grey. There was also the neon-lit video for "$$$/Pockets," which found them boosting instant ramen and pondering Pokemon. Friday night they'll headline a showcase that also features a set by their friends in Young Gods of America, Memphis' Spookyli, and local punk bands Oh Cathy and Bad Boyfriends. WS
9 p.m. Stickyz.
Ghost Bones, the Hot Springs post-punk trio of Ashley Hill, Bobby Missile and Ryan Jolly, will headline Friday night at Stickyz, where they were last seen winning the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase earlier this year. As part of their victory package, they were promised their own cocktail, and we (apparently) weren't kidding: Friday night marks the unveiling of the new drink, named the "Ghost Bones" in their honor. The group is currently recording its debut album with producer Bryan Frazier (of KABF and The Alpha Ray); check their progress at hearghostbones.bandcamp.com. The best description of the group I've read came from Times showcase judge Mitchell Crisp, who wrote, "This band is for throwing TVs out of three-story windows, sleeping under dirty sheets in a room lit by Christmas lights, drunk on cheap wine with a boy you just met but have seen around for a long time." Exactly. In addition to the mysterious (and probably dubious) mixed drink, the show will also mark the reunion of defunct Little Rock dance-punk band Androids of Ex-Lovers, plus an appearance by singer-songwriter John Willis. WS
GREAT ARKANSAS BEER FESTIVAL
6 p.m. Statehouse Convention Center.
Beer, in case you didn't know, happens to be one of the few perfect fluids mankind has ever created, along with WD-40, whiskey, Chanel No. 5, Tabasco sauce and whatever it is they're smearing on Meryl Streep to make her into some kind of non-aging vampire. Is there anything that beer doesn't make better? Nope. I almost said "... except for long-haul trucking." Then I remembered that the plot of "Smokey and the Bandit" revolves around — that's right — beer. Sure, it's Coors. But be glad. That choice of subpar suds was the only thing keeping the volatile combination of Jerry Reed, hot-era Sally Field, vintage Trans Am and 1970s Burt Reynolds from going up like a Brut-scented supernova and roasting your face off, sons and daughters. Recognize. There will be no need to go "East Bound and Down" with the law in hot pursuit this weekend, because Little Rock's Statehouse Convention Center will be hosting the Great Arkansas Beer Festival. Featuring more than 350 different craft beers from over 100 breweries across the nation, it's a long sip of beer lover's heaven. For more information or to buy tickets, visit the festival website at garbf.com. You can also find it on Facebook at facebook.com/GreatArkansasBeerFestival. DK
9 p.m. Discovery. $10 adv., $15 day of.
There's something vaguely embarrassing about trying to account for Rakim's greatness. For proof of this, note his entry in Yale University's "Anthology of Rap," which makes him sound more like someone you'd encounter in a freshman seminar course packet than someone who makes — or made —compelling, innovative, vibrant music. Music that made you want to dance, or throw a brick through a window, or get paid. But this has always been Rakim's problem: He's been appreciated to death. It's true that he raised the stakes for a whole genre, introducing internal rhymes and flexing his alliteration, assonance and self-conscious technique. He made other rappers feel awful about themselves, made Public Enemy reconsider its artistic direction. But mostly he just made great rap records and looked awesome while he did it. He wore Kangols and gold chains and called himself a "microphonist." He said things like "Beware, it's the re-animator" and "I bless the child, the Earth, the gods, and bomb the rest." Rap is notoriously unkind to its elder statesmen: "I always say a rapper is like a halfback in the NFL," as Rakim himself once told The Source. "You got about seven years, then it's a wrap." But Rakim, if anyone does, deserves your attention and your money, and Saturday night is your chance to give him both. WS
8 p.m. Juanita's. $12.
Many of us first encountered Kurt Braunohler as the host of the short-lived absurdist game show "Bunk" on IFC, which found contestants competing in surreal, inadvisable activities like shaming puppies and torturing interns and complimenting Nazis. (One of Braunohler's personal favorites was "Break the News to a 5-Year-Old," in which contestants had to explain a soul-crushing life truth — like "everyone you currently love will die before you" — to an actual kid.) Surprisingly, it was canceled. Since then, Braunohler has hosted the podcast "The K Ohle," in which he blindfolds guests and drives them to unfamiliar places, or just talks about boats. He has also contributed to "This American Life," "Bob's Burgers," countless Internet sketch comedy bits, and once raised $4,000 on Kickstarter to have a professional pilot skywrite "How Do I Land?" above downtown L.A. He's very busy and very successful and very funny, in other words, and his appearance in Little Rock is a coup. Think of the turnout for this show as a referendum on whether the city deserves to be a tour spot for good stand-ups. WS