It’s often said that Santa Barbarans reap the benefits of big-city living with all the quaint comforts of a small town. For me, that sentiment rings no truer than it does in October. For one action-packed month out of the year, downtown S.B. practically bursts at the seams with live music, thanks in no small part to the annual New Noise festivities (see p. 133). But there’s also the return of UCSB Arts & Lectures, the final push of the Santa Barbara Bowl season, and the newly reheated energy of the 805 DIY scene to keep calendars packed. On any given night this week, concert fans can choose between a wealth of great programming — or, if you’re like me, make some kind of mad-dash, gotta-catch-’em-all challenge out of it. Whatever your energy (and sanity) level, I figured we could all benefit from a little thought collecting and game planning. Below, you’ll find my running list of this week’s must-sees. You can thank me later.
MASSIVE ATTACK: Yes, Massive Attack puts on a great show. (Anyone who caught their closing of the 2010 Bowl season can back me up on that one.) They’re the kind of band that employs complex lighting setups and heavily charged guitars and tense, tightly wound percussion elements that stack high before bursting open. In short, it’s the stuff big open-air amphitheaters were made for. That said, this week’s highly anticipated return of Massive Attack is making the list mostly because of openers TV on the Radio, who take to the stage long before the sun sets on Friday evening. The Brooklyn band returns to the fold on behalf of Seeds, the group’s long-awaited (and thoroughly great) new album, which officially drops November 18. It’s the band’s first studio release since the passing of bassist/producer Gerard Smith. It’s also easily their most affecting to date. At the Santa Barbara Bowl (1122 N. Milpas St.) on Friday, October 17, at 7 p.m. Call 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com.
NICK WATERHOUSE: Say what you will about the soul revival movement — there is no arguing with the power of Cali-bred crooner Nick Waterhouse. At just 27 years old, Waterhouse has done his fair share of record-store rummaging. He cites everyone from Bert Berns to John Lee Hooker as an influence, he worships at the altar of Stax Records production techniques, and he has mastered the art of injecting vintage cool all over contemporary acts like Allah-Las and The Strange Boys.
Better still, Waterhouse moves and grooves with all the class, style, and finesse of a performer decades more accomplished. Whether he’s just an avid student or bona fide old soul, I’m not sure. But either way, he puts on one helluva show. At Velvet Jones (423 State St.) on Friday, October 17, at 8 p.m. Visit newnoisesb.com.
REPTOID: For the avant-garde lovers among us, meet Reptoid. The project of Oakland-based noisemaker Jordan Sobolew, Reptoid’s music is not for the faint of heart. In fact, this scuzzy, electronic-sprinkled guitar-and-feedback machine falls closer in line with the weirdo rock of acts like This Heat and Scott Walker than anything currently making the contemporary circuit. That said, if noise is your thing, Sobolew’s sonic studies will not disappoint. The music he’s making is heated, driving, and structurally complex. And I’m already betting it will be delivered at ear-bleeding decibels. In other words, come early. Bring earplugs. At FUNZONE (226 S. Milpas St.) on Thursday, October 23, at 8 p.m. with Oldneck, Oak Small, and Soma Vice. Visit facebook.com/funzonesantabarbara.