Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.
By the early to mid '90s, hardcore had more or less splintered into a couple-three dominant strains. You had the hordes of Victory Records type bands that followed the macho lunkhead lead of Sick of it All, Madball and the like. These outfits appealed to your beefy frustrated dudes who liked to mosh at shows because it gave them an outlet for beating the crap out of other beefy frustrated dudes. Much like Homo neanderthalensis, this scene was evolutionarily a dead end. Over on the opposite end of the spectrum, you had your dissonant, smarty-pants screamers, such as Universal Order of Armageddon and Antioch Arrow. These bands appealed to the wimpy frustrated dudes who didn't like to mosh at shows, preferring to stand in the back, arms folded, with the other wimpy frustrated dudes. This scene did evolve over the years, as noise rock, no wave skronk and art-school leanings set in and mutants like The Locust and The Blood Brothers proliferated. Racebannon, of Indianapolis, fits loosely into this tradition, plying an art-damaged trade that at times recalls a more metal-influenced Arab on Radar. The band's latest, "Six Sik Sisters" has a particularly unhinged vibe. It's the sound of an anxiety attack and would be the perfect birthday present for that special disturbed loner in your life. Opening up is R.I.O.T.S., the excellent local practitioners of classic hardcore, à la Dischord '80-'83, "The First Four Years," F.U.'s, The Dicks, MDC and other timeless touchstones of sonic aggression. In this time of political corruption, economic uncertainty and general dismay, there's a crying need for a R.I.OT.S. demo tape. Maybe like seven or 12 songs about how everything's all effed and the harshness of reality and stuff. How about it dudes?
WILCO, PURLING HISS
6 p.m. Arkansas Music Pavilion. $44.
Usually, when writing about an upcoming concert in this space, I'll go on for about 100-300 words, mainly about the headlining act. But I figure most folks who'd drive to Fayetteville to see Wilco already know about Wilco. So this time I'm going to go on for 100-300 words mainly about the opener, Purling Hiss, of Philadelphia. First off, it's just not often that I get a presser from the Walton Arts Center that refers to Les Rallizes Denudes and Vermonster. Second off, Purling Hiss is bad to the bone. The band's "Public Service Announcement" album from 2010 is a warped slab of burnout rock that sounds like underwater classic rock played at maximum volume through seven delay pedals. It's scuzz rock in the tradition of yesteryear greats like Royal Trux, but with Xeroxed-to-infinity fuzz guitar and tape-hiss haze reminiscent of the golden era of Guided by Voices. If I had to point to a single track that epitomized the Purling Hiss M.O., it'd be the nine-minute "Almost Washed My Hair," an apocalyptic mess of overdriven Stooges/Grand Funk meltdown. As far as live sound, YouTube findings reveal a muscular trio of bruiser dudes fronted by main-man Mike Polizze, who is a shredmeister. Props to Wilco for bringing such a rad opening band with them, but expect a degree of befuddlement from some of the folks who just wanna hear the song about the heavy metal drummer.
THICK SYRUP ANNIVERSARY SHOWS
8 p.m. Maxine's and White Water Tavern.
It's the sixth anniversary of Little Rock label Thick Syrup Records, the purveyors of many flavors of rock 'n' roll both local and national (and even international, what with an album from Dutch custom-guitar wizard Yuri Landman). Since 2006, Travis McElroy's imprint has released recordings by many of Little Rock's most notable (and notorious) bands, including Smoke Up Johnny, Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth, The Reparations, Frown Pow'r, San Antokyo and many more, as well as albums from such left-field luminaries as Jad and David Fair of Half-Japanese fame, Don Fleming, Bob Bert and The Chrome Cranks, among others. These anniversary shows will be filmed for an upcoming documentary, according to the label's website. It all kicks off Thursday at Maxine's, with Ezra Lbs., Androids of Ex-Lovers, Browningham and Michael Inscoe. That's followed by a two-day blowout at White Water Tavern, starting 9 p.m. Friday with Inscoe, Brother Andy, The Many Persian Z's and The Alpha Ray. It wraps up Saturday night starting at 9 p.m., with Browningham, Inscoe, Androids and Ezra Lbs.
ARKANSAS DELTA ROCKABILLY FESTIVAL
11 a.m. Historic Downtown Helena. $20.
Here's a lot of rock 'n' roll bang for your buck: The Arkansas Delta Rockabilly Festival is a full day of music, featuring some truly legendary performers. Stan Perkins — son of Carl and a fantastic guitarist in his own right — will be performing with drummer D.J. Fontana, who played for 15 years with Elvis Presley, including numerous hit recordings. They'll be backed up by The Legendary Pacers (who'll be performing with the great Sonny Burgess, as well). Saxophonist Ace Cannon — who Sun Records founder Sam Phillips called "the greatest saxophone player who ever lived" — will perform with his band. The day wraps up with the country sounds of Asleep at the Wheel and The Kentucky Headhunters.
ASO'S WICKED DIVAS
8 p.m. Robinson Center Music Hall. $10-$65.
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra closes out its 2011-2012 season with this program of "diva showstoppers," featuring vocalists Eden Espinosa and Emily Rozek. Espinosa has played the role of Elphaba for the Broadway production of the hit musical "Wicked" and starred in the film of the final performance of "Rent." She's also done voiceover work on the inestimable Adult Swim program "Robot Chicken." Nice! Rozek played the role of Glinda in the Los Angeles production of "Wicked," and has performed on touring productions of "Sunset Boulevard" and "South Pacific." The show will be led by Associate Conductor Geoffrey Robson, and will feature music from such works as Bizet's "Carmen," "My Fair Lady," "Phantom of the Opera," "Spamalot," "The Wizard of Oz" and, naturally, "Wicked." The show will be performed again at 3 p.m. Sunday.
IN TUNE WITH THE HOMELESS
11 a.m. Enjoy LifeStyle Center. Free.
In Tune with the Homeless is a daylong event with live music, local food vendors, free medical testing and educational outreach. The main beneficiary will be the SOAR Outreach Network, a nonprofit that helps homeless folks with their transportation needs. There will be a battle of the bands featuring hip-hop, rock and folk performers, judged by a panel of homeless people involved with outreach programs and program organizers. The winners will compete for a variety of prizes, including recording time from Mach 1 Recording and photography by K. Toomer, among other goodies. Occupy Little Rock will be on hand to discuss The Campaign Finance & Lobbying Act of 2012, a ballot initiative by the group Regnat Populus 2012 that's designed to reduce the corrupting influence of money in Arkansas politics, particularly with regard to legislators, lobbyists and the interactions between them. Some of the food sellers on hand will be Pierre's Pizza, Homegrown Gourmet and King Blvd. A portion of proceeds will also benefit youth-oriented programs at The Enjoy LifeStyle Center skate park. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.
9 p.m. Revolution. $12 adv., $15 d.o.s.
Let's say your idea of a good weekend is one spent tearing down some backcountry road in an '84 Chevy Silverado on the way to the swimming hole, a cooler full of iced-down brews in the back, a dog-eared copy of "Cannery Row" on the dash, maybe a jernt tucked into the sun visor, maybe not. Well if that sounds like the makings of a good time, what'd make it sound even better are some Chris Knight tunes. He makes the exact type of music I'd want to have blasting out of the crappy speakers of that truck in that scenario. It's not laundry-list country, with fake twang and extra-tired cliches about being a gun-toting country outlaw badass family man and whatnot. No, Knight's music recalls the more thoughtful, introspective work of such figures as James McMurtry, Steve Earle and John Prine, the latter of whom was a key influence on Knight. If you dig those guys and their fellow travelers, don't miss Chris Knight.
Building a lead so rapidly and holding it in games, even professional football, is difficult…