Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned
7:30 p.m. Arkansas Music Pavilion. $30-$100.
The Eagles suggested in "Hotel California" that "They stab it with their Steely knives but they just can't kill the beast." Only the most die-hard fans of both groups — yes, there did exist aficionados who could appreciate both the California-cool country rock of the Eagles as well as the jazz-and-blues-influenced pop tunes of Steely Dan — knew it was a friendly, lyrical tit-for-tat with their L.A.-based music rivals, who had suggested "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening," in "What You Did." Point was, the Eagles were everywhere and topping the charts and were willing to let everyone know the beast couldn't be stopped, while Steely Dan — with its oddball lyrics and dissonant chords that could go any which unexpected direction — was a more-acquired taste.
Hence, the Eagles toured a lot in arenas, broke up for more than a decade, and then went back to touring before even bigger crowds again. Steely Dan never seemed to grasp the touring concept in its first go-round, especially when the Dan devolved into just its creative influences, Bard College classmates Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, and a cadre of session musicians for its precise studio releases. The Dan took a lengthy break, too, although Fagen released a couple of excellent solo albums and embraced touring with his like-minded musical friends. Finally, Becker took Fagen up on doing another Dan album again in 2000 (20 years after "Gaucho"), and the resulting "Two Against Nature" was a long-awaited smash hit and a Grammy winner to boot. When Fagen can entice Becker to leave his Hawaii home for a few weeks, Steely Dan visits amphitheaters from coast to coast, and now the Dan is finally making its way to Arkansas and Rogers' Walmart AMP Thursday night.
At Kansas City last weekend, according to setlist.fm, Steely Dan played a 21-song set that included "Black Cow," "Aja," "Hey Nineteen," "Peg," "Josie," "My Old School," and, of course, the two songs that started it all, "Do It Again" and "Reeling in the Years," to wrap it up. The AMP's great seats in the reserved seating area ($100) are long gone, but there were tickets on the wings of the reserved sections ($65) plus there's grass seating behind the reserved area ($30). JH
8 p.m. IV Corners.
Before he was Plies, he was Algernod Lanier Washington, the homecoming king at Fort Myers Senior High and a wide receiver at the University of Miami. It's important not to forget his roots in the weirdest state in the South, the birthplace of Bass, because while his commercial peaks have been songs with T-Pain and Akon and Ne-Yo hooks (or remixes of John Legend songs or whatever), his best songs are almost always abrasively simple — deep, probing, bottomless 808 jams about sex and money. He's adaptable, but his stylistic pulse will forever be set to late '80s Shadow Country rap, the vulgar soundtrack to the land of mosquitoes, the Everglades and subwoofers. This year, he even made a vintage Miami Bass track in "Thick," which sounds like the future and features living legend, 2 Live Crew impresario and former Miami mayoral candidate Luther Campbell on hype-man duty. If you're not sold on his music, keep in mind that he once tossed $50,000 out into the audience at a show in Atlanta to promote one of his records. Little Rock: It could happen here. He'll share a bill with Rod-D, the El Dorado native recently riding high off the street hit "Pull Up." WS
!!! (CHK CHK CHK)
9 p.m. Revolution. $12 adv., $15 day of.
Nearly all the millennial disco-punk revivalists have hung it up. Among the league of bands that helped teach a generation of morose indie rock kids to dance — LCD Soundsystem, Out Hud, The Rapture — !!! (say it Chk Chk Chk) stands nearly alone. Of course, the California-born sextet has evolved. On its latest album, "Thr!!er" (2013), it's largely traded the post-punk intensity that ran through its early material (like "Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)," played a million times at house parties in Little Rock in the early aughts), for dance-funk that you could probably turn your Chic- and Donna Summer-loving mom onto. Don't take that as a dis. Consider taking your mom to the show. There'll probably be plenty of other moms in attendance. Probably moms who used to dance furiously to Soophie Nun Squad's "No Moms Allowed!" Probably moms who attended !!!'s first shows in Little Rock. Nate Powell, award-winning graphic novelist and Little Rock punk historian, remembers those shows vividly. They happened at the Belvedere Pavilion in Riverfront Park (a regular punk venue in the '90s). At the first show, with Soophie (of which Powell was a member) and the Popesmashers also on the bill, !!! sold every single copy of the three-song demo tape they had out at the time. So they decided to stick around for another performance. I'll let Nate take it away from here:
"By then, the word had spread far and wide that this might be the best live band of all time, so while about 100 folks came to the first night, around 150-200 came to the second. River rats and homeless folks also caught word from their friends who'd caught the first show, and represented in major numbers. Random hippies showed up with 3-4-foot-tall bongos and congas, rain sticks, and extra percussion instruments. Within about 20 minutes of the second show, two cop cars showed up (as usual in that era), but as the officers approached the Belvedere, there was an understanding amongst EVERYONE at the show: !!! would keep playing, we'd keep dancing and stay positive, and we would show that this was truly nothing but good music on a summer night. The cops stood about 20 feet up the hill, hands on their belts/hips, assessing the situation, wondering at first why no "punk representative" had come up the hill to talk with them yet (as was our M.O. at the time). Then the music itself began to work its magic on them. It was just too good. When the song finally did end, everyone cheered and clapped as loudly as they could, smiles on everyone's faces. !!! immediately jumped into another song, and after a moment, the police realized that This Was Just One Of Those Times To Leave The Kids Alone. They turned to walk away, the crowd cheered and clapped without sarcasm, and the cops actually waved back at us, leaving us all to simply have a good night. One of the most genuine moments of my life." LM
9 p.m. White Water Tavern.
The country singer and violinist Amanda Shires, who is also perfectly proficient at the guitar and ukulele but who is always described as a violinist nevertheless, played in Little Rock last week, at the White Water Tavern. She sang plaintive, warm and often funny songs with a two-man rhythm section (her stand-up bassist wore overalls and a tie, and her drummer stood up while he played). She told stories about people she's met, like an odd fan in Tampa named Tiger Bill. She said at one point, "Sometimes friendship requires the use of your washer and dryer." There was a red light bulb in the bass drum that lent an eerie, Lynchian quality to the set. Originally from Lubbock, Texas, Shires has written songs and recorded with people like Todd Snider, Justin Townes Earle, Cory Branan and her husband, Jason Isbell. (She was also apparently a member, briefly, of the Texas Playboys.) Spin magazine has said that Shires sings like an "earthbound Emmylou Harris," and I have no idea what that means. She enjoyed Little Rock so much that she's returning this week for another Monday night set. Who does that? WS
'HIS GIRL FRIDAY'
8 p.m. Few. Donations.
Splice Microcinema, the underground, makeshift, art-house film series that started in the back room at Vino's a few months ago with a block of Jean-Luc Godard films, has picked up its projector and reels and relocated to Few, a "design and development agency" housed above LULAV on Sixth Street. It kicked things off a couple of weeks ago (it's on a biweekly schedule) with Ingmar Bergman's "Persona," and is lightening the mood quite a bit this week with Howard Hawks' hilarious, undisputedly great "His Girl Friday," a frenzied marriage plot set in a surreally insensitive newsroom. Based on Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's play "The Front Page," Hawks' version of the story is quicker and bleaker and funnier, with a bold absence of last-act moralizing. Also there is Cary Grant, who critic David Thomson once named "the best and most important actor in the history of movies," and who is at his best here. WS