The 9:30 Club
Oct. 4 and 5
Ben Harper has made a name for himself through his eclectic blend of blues, folk, pop, rock, soul and even some reggae. His latest album, “Give Till It’s Gone,” released last May, features collaborations with Ringo Starr and Jackson Browne with British Invasion, California glam tones and heavy guitar riffs. “Give Till It’s Gone” is written for a great live experience, and you can count on the two-time Grammy-winner to deliver. Check out his cover of The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields” from the “I Am Sam” soundtrack, and my personal favorite, “Faithfully Remain,” from Harper’s last album, “White Lies for Dark Times.”
Score: Harper’s albums are written for a venue like 9:30. Expect raging guitar but also some spiritual “Kumbaya” moments.
Bore: With a deep catalogue of tunes like Harper’s, anyone but true diehards may get a little lost.
The Black Cat
Dawes is a band that has been around for only two years, but it has still managed to capture the authentic feel of Laurel Canyon in the 1970s. After forming out of the wreckage of post-punk band Simon Dawes, Dawes released its major label debut, “North Hills,” one of the best written albums of 2009. Taylor Goldsmith, the band’s main songwriter, has the ability to bare all his scars and bruises, but he does so over shimmering guitar lines that make his cathartic music fun to listen to. The obvious classic is “When My Time Comes,” but for a newer hit, check out “Time Spent in Los Angeles,” a touching song about what gets lost in the city. I would also recommend “Moon in the Water,” a slower acoustic piece.
Score: Analogue rock with serious lyrics that is seriously good. Look for shimmering harmonies and great keyboards.
Bore: No need for them to co-headline. It’s time to move to a major venue and make it happen!
The Watch the Throne Tour – Kanye West and Jay-Z
The Verizon Center
When two of the biggest acts of the decade announced they would be collaborating on an entire album, the hip-hop world went nuts. Following amazing releases from both Kanye and Jay-Z – see “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and “The Blueprint III,” respectively – everyone knew this was going to be huge. Over beautiful samples and hooks, “Watch the Throne” is one of the biggest albums of the year. The tour, which the artists will headline together under the moniker “The Thrones,” will feature new songs from the album, plus collaborations on some old hits like “Swagger Like Us” and “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” One bonus with these two is that their tours always include unannounced special guests. Last time I saw Kanye, both Lupe Fiasco and Common showed up to guest spot. Look for major acts in each city to be featured – hopefully Beyonce will make some cameos, as well as some of Kanye’s MBDTF crew.
Score: Two of the biggest stars in the world on the same stage, and they always bring friends.
Bore: Lots of ego in this room, so expect the show to be over-the-top and super pricey.