"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
‘SPOTLIGHT ON HOLLYWOOD'
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall.
It's widely assumed that most orchestral music written since the advent of electric guitar languishes outside of popular culture, done in by the inaccessibility of the avant-gardists, the skronk of jazz and, God help us, the ethereal warble of new age influences. I'd disagree. Orchestral music has been, perhaps, pushed into the corner, but it thrives in the guise of film scores. This weekend, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, under the conduction of guest maestro and clarinetist Carl Topilow, tackles a handful of the greatest pieces from the silver screen, from Bernard Hermann's dizzying arpeggios in the theme from “Psycho” to John Williams' galactic forays into Wagnerian grandiosity from “The Empire Strikes Back.” The symphony will place its “Spotlight on Hollywood” again on Saturday, 8 p.m. Same price and place.
BROTHER ANDY & HIS BIG DAMN MOUTH
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
A year after seeing one of their first shows, I'm still asking myself, “Where in the hell did these guys come from?” Sure, the three guys who make up Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth are familiar, hairy dudes about town, but in the course of weeks — and not many, at that — the outfit proved that Little Rock has the energy to turn a crew of dudes with a batch of wickedly catchy, deceptively smart songs into an overnight sensation. Despite the fact that the band didn't have any recordings other than a precious few demos on their MySpace page, their early audiences (crowds in the true sense of the word) already knew the songs, singing along to this self-described brand of “white trash power pop” that marries the sonic tension of Black Francis or J. Mascis to the warped South of Flannery O'Connor and poetic perversities of Henry Miller. So after months of gigging and churning out a string of instant local classics (“Mona's Song,” “Rotgut Redemption”), the trio's finally releasing “Mystic Indian Hitmakers,” its debut album (for sale at the show for $5) — and the first of a trilogy the prolific trio plans to put out this year. Dare I say this show is not to be missed, even if you have only the slightest, tinkling interest in local music? I sure do. Folk garage trio Jonathan Wilkins & The Reparations open while the heavy-drinking alt-country act of Drunken Angels bid happy trails to town with their final show.
8 p.m., Riverfest Amphitheatre. $29.50-$49.50.
It strikes me as a bit of a shame that the iconography of ZZ Top overshadows a remarkable, decades-long streak of genre-defining Texas blues rock. Sure, the three-note guitar lick from “La Grange” is just as instilled in the American consciousness as the two-note pattern from the “Jaws” theme and “Tres Hombres” will forever be one of the greatest rock albums ever, but the band will probably forever remain a caricature of dusters and furry guitars. That said, Billy Gibbons' and Dusty Hill's beards belong in the Smithsonian. But I digress. The long-tenured trio brings its crunchy, libidinous, smirkingly trashy act to the Riverfest Amphitheatre for what may or may not spur a raunchy-guitar-rock-trio-with-big-beards battle for show supremacy with Brother Andy & His Big Damn Mouth across town. This could get — wait for it — hairy. Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, fresh off the “Kid Rock's Chillin' the Most” cruise (ahem), provide support.
1 p.m., State Fairgrounds. $35.
You already know good and well whether or not you're going to Edgefest, Little Rock's sixth annual festival of everything raaaaaaawk. It's a day in the scorching sun, soaking up some of the most angst-y, angry, misguided music that modern rock has to offer from the likes of the furious Godsmack, the irate Papa Roach, the enraged Five Finger Death Punch, the fuming Hellyeah, the incensed Bullet For My Valentine, the annoyed Drowning Pool, the teed-off Seether and a band called Lacuna Coil that I won't describe because I've exhausted Microsoft Word's synonym feature. You get the point. However, in the middle of this buffet of bitchery, King Psychobilly himself, Rob Zombie, takes stage. He's awesome and probably single-handedly worth the admission price. But after looking at the photos on the Edgefest website, I remembered that getting beat up behind a port-a-john by dudes in knock-off Oakleys isn't my digs, so I can safely say I'm staying far away.
10 p.m., The Village. $15 adv., $25 d.o.s.
Houston rappers in general are prolific. That's just the culture of Houston rap: recording any and everything for the never ceasing — and more anonymous than not — sea of mixtapes that find themselves hustled out of the backs of cars, passed out at clubs, uploaded to Dat Piff and disseminated at will. (For a great primer, check out Vice's “Screwed in Houston” short documentary on YouTube.) Lil' Keke is no exception. In fact, alongside the rest of 3rd Ward, Houston's infamous Screwed Up Click, he epitomizes the workaholic hustle that defines the city's rap scene. This weekend, that Houston hustle brings the emcee to Little Rock alongside a flood of other rappers, including MC Mack, E-Dubb, Lil' P Da Keepa, Doe Boi and Mista Mayhemm.
9 p.m., White Water Tavern. $5.
They're Arkansas's delegation to the international metal scene. They're held in the highest regard by some heavy names that make heavy music with bands like Avail and Shrinebuilder. They're one of the most celebrated underground metal acts around and, if you've yet to be indoctrinated to the ways of Rwake, it's high time to find out just why these locals are demigods across the world. The band brings its prog-sludge sound to White Water, where it'll welcome back original bassist Reid Raley (Iron Tongue, Deadbird) and, hopefully, raise some bread to keep their drummer, Jeff, out of the pokey due to a few outstanding traffic violations. So if you're in the market for a killer metal show in a small venue, not to mention assisting in the overpopulation problems of county jails, here's your chance. These Wolves Are Robots and Pallbearer open.
QUAPAW TOUR OF HOMES
5:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday, Quapaw Quarter. $15.
After growing up in a historical home and receiving a huge appreciation for architectural antiquities from my folks, I think it's safe to put this in print: The Quapaw Quarter/Governor's Mansion district contains, brick for brick, the most interesting, gorgeous houses in the state. It's a magnificent neighborhood with eye candy for blocks. Rows and rows of brick and plaster, renovated to original glory, defiant in the downwind of the McMansion and utilitarian sprawl. Yet, like judging a book by the cover, you can't appreciate a house just by the exterior. The 47th annual Spring Tour of Homes kicks off with the Candlelight Tour of five homes and a gala dinner dance in the garth of Trinity Cathedral on Saturday night; tickets are $100. On Sunday afternoon, tickets are $15.
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $8 adv., $10 d.o.s.
It's true and it's awesome: America's Funnyman himself, Neil Hamburger, is going to bring the yuks, laffs, and guffaws to dear Little Rock. Armed with nothing but a microphone, a laser-honed wit, an armful of cocktails and buckets of charm, Mr. Hamburger takes aim at Red Hot Chili Peppers, Paris Hilton and, God help us, Heath Ledger. Fans of Dane Cook, Carlos Mencia and Jeff Dunham: Don't even worry about researching this guy. Just come.
CAGE THE ELEPHANT
8 p.m., Revolution. $15.
With Beck affectations, Kings of Leon twang and a twist of Happy Mondays swagger, Cage the Elephant occupies a precarious spot in the modern rock radio landscape. It's straightforward rock from when rock was straightforward and stumbled, occasionally, into left field (Hey, '90s!). Hardly intimidated by slide guitar, tempo changes or dropping the occasional, tasteful F-bomb here and there, the Bowling Green, Ky., five-piece are same-y-same enough to grab ears and just different enough to keep their songs planted in them. In fact, during the writing of this paragraph, their single “Ain't No Rest for the Wicked” stuck itself something fierce in my head. Choral, experimental Portland act Morning Teleportation and driving guitar rockers from Nashville, Autovaughn, open the all-ages concert.
8:30 p.m., Revolution. $15.
Muddling up blues, grunge, folk and punk, Cracker remains one of the mainstays of '90s alternative rock, traversing past its fallen, flannelled comrades and still recording and releasing albums with surprising regularity. Even though the band's found itself gracefully growing old, the dudes haven't traded in or watered down their signature snark and everyday irony that put them on the map with early '90s hits like “Low” or “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now).” In fact, judging from the positive reviews thrown towards Cracker's newest album, its 13th, the band's wry poppiness and sharp hooks may stick around for a while. The Californians will get a taste of Arkansas rock that doesn't quit from opener Jim Mize.