Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
Noon, Mulberry Mountain, Ozark. $59-$159.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 people are expected to climb Mulberry Mountain this weekend for the biggest music and camping festival Arkansas has seen in recent memory. The hordes descend for names familiar (Black Crowes, Gov't Mule) and not so much (MOFRO, STS9, Railroad Earth) at least to those not indoctrinated into the jam band scene. That modern incarnation of hippiedom, just as hemp and sandal-obsessed as its forebears, but with way better weed, comes together to see those and more than 70 more acts on four stages through Sunday. Other acts bound to draw include Les Claypool, the former front man of Primus and bass virtuoso; dub pioneers Sly and Robbie; Hasidic Jewish reggae performer Matisyahu and Southern rock favorites Lucero. Little Rock's own Damn Bullets, who won a battle of the bands for a slot in the festival, represent early Friday afternoon. If the music grows tiring, there are trails and mini-lakes to explore. LM.
BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW / SCHOOL
OF SEVEN BELLS
9 p.m., Sticky Fingerz. $8 adv., $10 d.o.s.
Technology has always been central to Black Moth Super Rainbow's sound. Since the early 2000s, the Pittsburgh-based pysch-pop collective has cranked out 10 EPs and full-lengths made mostly using analog electronic instruments — Rhodes piano, Moog, Novatron, vocorder. That last instrument, popularized by acts like ELO and Roger Troutman, synthesizes vocals, lending them a robotic quality akin to the autotune-gone-wild sound that everyone from Kanye to Lil Wayne can't get enough of now. For the band's latest, the just-released “Eating Us” (available in typical formats as well as a deluxe hand-numbered CD with a “hairy sleeve”), it enlisted Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann, who's pushed BMSR into more conventional arrangements. There's even an acoustic guitar. Still, lead singer Tobacco's vocals remain decidedly otherworldly, though he recently told Wired that he's working to make the vocorder sound “more human.” School of the Seven Bells, a dream-pop collaboration between former Secret Machine Ben Curtis and On!Air!Library!'s twin sister vocalists Claudia and Alejandra Deheza, co-headlines. Look for material that recalls the Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine — everything comes with a wash of feedback — but with electronic blips and beats. LM.
8 p.m., the Village. $22.50-$35.
When I was 12, I taped Too $hort's drastically edited version of “I'm a Player” off Power 92 and listened to it constantly. It starts, “You see I made up my mind when I was 17 / I ain't with no marriage and a weddin' ring / I be a player fo' life, so where's my wife? / Prob'ly at the rehab stuck on the pipe / ‘cause she must be smokin' and I'm not jokin' / Too Short baby comin' straight from Oakland.” Which is pretty dumb, but in Too $hort's drawled out, almost plodding delivery and over an almost wholesale sample of Bootsy Collin's “Hollywood Squares,” it sounded — still, to these nostalgic ears, sounds — like the greatest thing ever. Of course, later, I discovered that Too $hort's career, or at least the first decade of it, pretty much all sounds like that — '70s funk samples, a super-slow-roll delivery, pimp talk. Taken together, particularly as the misogyny builds, it can get tedious. Late-era Too $hort, recorded after the MC became one of the first rappers to fake retire (it lasted three years), has been more stylistically varied, with crunk, snap and, most recently, hyphy styles informing production. Even if that hasn't helped the 43-year-old rapper sell many new albums, it should help make for a fuller concert. LM.
Good analysis, something completely lacking from the daily newspaper's sports reporters/columnists.
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