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Weekend music

The dreamy, anthemic indie rock of Tucson's Rival Shapes

Tucson band Rival Shapes claims, among their myriad influences, a number of diverse artists such as Bjork, Sigur Ross, Slowdive and A.A. Bondy; the sort of names that (deservedly) earn a nod of respect from your typical mainstream rock critic and definitely factor into the band's nuanced lyrics and dreamy, spacey, reverberant indie soundscapes.

Still, in rock and roll, sometimes what really counts most is the simple, pedestrian stuff. The guilty pleasures that drove a group's members to pick up their first guitar or set of drumsticks. The Beatles had Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry and Elvis. The Rolling Stones had Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. And Rival Shapes have anthemic rock, a musical common ground which gives the band's music a structured framework and stately dynamic evocative of bands like U2 or Radiohead.

Frank Dillon: "We all grew up listening to artists like Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and U2, though we individually like a lot of different things. In terms of influence, that is where things get interesting. Often, the end result isn't reminiscent of where we started, which is a good thing."

TucsonSentinel.com: What's the origin story of Rival Shapes?

Frank Dillon (guitar): "Fred Baker (vocals, guitar) and I started the project a few years ago. Fred moved back to Arizona from New York, and he and I met up and started working together and writing music for the first two EPs, 'Push' and 'Pull.' A lot of that earlier material was based off of Fred's solo project he had been working on while in New York. We spent a lot of time together polishing the material and figuring out the sound and direction for the band."

Brock Lange (bass): "Once those guys had the material written, Frank reached out to me and Ryan Janac (drums) to finish writing and recording the material. Frank, Ryan, and I had been in various bands together at different points over the years. At the time of the recording, Ryan was still living in Nashville, so all of the drums on the first EPs were recorded out there and sent back here for mixing/mastering."

TS: How did the band choose its name?

FD: "Band names are hard. Some of your favorite bands only have seem to have cool band names because of the context of their music. We were striving to achieve something similar. We wanted a name that was evocative but allowed the music to define it, instead of the other way around."

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BL: "Also, it was the first thing we didn't hate!"

TS: Consensus is definitely important! As is keeping a sense of mystery. On a less mysterious note, though, in what ways would you say the band has grownfrom your early days to now?

BL: "We started with a real bare-bones, minimalist approach. Lots of whole notes, ballad tempos, using negative space, and what not. I think the idea was trying to create as much sound as we could out of as few notes as possible."

FD: "Yeah, our first material was a lot more forlorn and down-tempo. The earlier material had lots of space and ambient qualities, which made it good music for rainy days or chilling out. The new stuff is a lot more energetic. It maintains the same overall character of the band but is a lot more up-tempo and varied."

TS: You've all been part of the Tucson music community for a while now. What are yourthoughts on the state of the local music scene these days?

BL: "We grew up playing music in Tucson during what seemed like the heyday of the local Tucson music scene. Club Crawl, Fall Crawl, the Tucson Weekly 'TAMMIES,' all of the live venues up and down Fourth Ave. It seemed like Tucson was on its way to becoming the next big thing. The recent death of the Flycatcher I think marks a bit of a nadir in the local scene. Don't get me wrong, the scene isn't dead. Newer venues like 191 Toole make me hopeful. But the draw just isn't there like it used to be."

FD: "I'll just echo that. There has always been a diverse collection of talented musicians here in Tucson. Hopefully it will continue to grow and prosper and we will continue to see more music venues that can provide an outlet and support for that talent. There aren't enough all-ages venues. It would be nice if there was a way to make live music more accessible to younger audiences, a way to give them an outlet like we had when we were coming up."

TS: Any favorite local bands?

FD: "There's a lot of really unique sounds coming from Tucson's scene at the moment. For instance,June West, Sean Loui, Willis Earl Beal."

BL: "I'll add XIXA and Vox Urbana, who are definitely pushing the limits of desert rock and cumbia fusion. Lowlife and Basic Biology are also incredibly creative and experimental."

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TS: What does the immediate future hold for your band?

FD: "We are currently mixing our third EP, 'The Line and Fire,' for a tentative November 2018 release. We are fortunate to be able to work with Brad Wood, a Los Angeles-based producer and engineer that has done some incredible bands over his long career. His mixes have really brought a special kind of energy out of the project and are looking forward to working with him on this and future material."

BL: "We are also working on a video for an upcoming single from 'The Line and Fire,' hopefully to be released sometime early next year. We're putting a lot of energy into getting the EP and video, and we're really excited to get it out into people's hands.

TS: Tell us about the upcoming show!

BL: "We're playing this Friday (8/24) at Club Congress with (Phoenix band) Broken Girls From Affluent Backgrounds). It's been a minute since we played at Congress so we're really excited for this show. That venue has always been one of my personal favorites, from the sound to the stage setup to the atmosphere. Broken Girls From Affluent Backgrounds brings a high energy show, so we're eager to keep pace with our new material."

Rival Shapes and Broken Girls from Affluent Backgrounds will play at Club Congress on Friday night, August 24 at 8 p.m.

It might get loud...

While much of the outside world thinks of Southern Arizona as the land of "desert rock" à la Calexico, Giant Sand and Xixa, it might be argued that the true heartbeat of Tucson music is a lot more rhythmic, loud, dynamic and oh-so-slightly weird as best evidenced by a handful of percussive as hell local bands: Free Machines, Whispering Wires, Lenguas Largas and Carbon Canyon.

Someday, inevitably, the rest of the world will get hip to this sound and these bands will have their own chance to get "big in Europe." Or maybe not. Either way, for now, these bands are kind of our little secret - a very LOUD secret, but probably worth blowing an ear drum for. This week you can check out two of them and find out what our European friends are missing with a "minimalist" version of Lenguas Largas playing Saturday night's Party at Saint Charles and Carbon Canyon hitting the Cans Deli stage Tuesday night.

Party at Saint Charles with Lenguas Largas and Jason Paul takes place Saturday at 9 p.m. at Saint Charles Tavern just south of Downtown. Carbon Canyon, Bandeye and the Tortilla Factory take the stage at Cans on Tuesday, also at 9 p.m.

Can you spare a square?

This Sunday night, local nonprofit arts org the House of Rossi teams with Tucson Quilt Project and Felicia Chew Community Projects for a benefit show to help raise awareness of (and work to end) the cycle of systemic domestic violence: the pattern of fear, shame, guilt and blame that often keep domestic violence victims and survivors from seeking help and breaking free of abuse. Attendees are encouraged to contribute a self designed paper square to be added to the community-wide "quilt."

A night long music event, community arts showcase and fundraiser, the show features eight up and coming local bands and takes place at the Surly Wench on Fourth Avenue.

T.H.O.R. and Tucson Quilt Project present Help End Systemic Violence at the Surly Wench this Sunday at 6 p.m.

Great Scott!

Imagine if Antoine from the Brian Jonestown Massacre discovered Roxy Music, Scott Walker and pre-Ziggy-era Bowie. And wore costumes that were a little more like actual Brian Jones. The results would be somewhere in the neighborhood of a Scott Yoder solo show. The Burger Records artist and former frontman of Seattle's garage rockers The Pharmacy brings his glam-tinged psych garage sensibilities to the appropriately creepy cabaret setting of funeral home-turned venue Owls Club this Thursday night for Scott Yoder's After Party. The intimate and interesting show may well be the antidote to the giant music festival just a few short blocks away...

Scott Yoder's After Party comes to Owls Club on Thursday, Aug. 30 at 10 p.m.

HOCO Fest begins!

Your friendly neighborhood music columnist has decidedly mixed feelings about music festivals. Once upon a time, they were the stomping grounds of only the most dedicated rock nerds, checking off "bucket list" bands, checking out newer acts that might not always make it to smaller markets and maybe even falling in love with some new local acts. Then the whole thing caught on with the general public and everybody started going to these things. For those of us allergic to crowds and maybe a little backwards in the fashion department the rock festival circuit has become largely a "Sophie's Choice" situation every time a few good acts are on the bill - the bigger and more popular (and more expensive) a festival, the more we want to shy away, but the better the lineup, the better the odds we'll overcome rock nerd agoraphobia for a day or three and brave the crowds.

Tucson's Hoco Fest still seems to strike a good balance in this department - more music-centric and less mini Coachella than many similar events. While the Labor Day weekend festival has veered away from its early hyperlocal focus (the first couple years were largely celebrations of Old Pueblo bands old and new) the diversity of the lineup has grown while still including a decent mix of local talent and "frequent flyer" indie bands from around the country who are likely to hit Tucson stages on future occasions.

This Wednesday and Thursday mark the kickoff of the event - stay tuned for next week's listings for a more in depth guide to Hoco Fest and other Labor Day music treats heading our way.

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Hoco Fest takes place at Club Congress on Wednesday and Thursday nights, Aug. 29 and 30, continuing through Labor Day weekend. Both nights begin at 6 p.m. For more information go to hocofest.com.

Check your local listings...

Friday, Aug 24

  • Jacob Acosta Band - 6 p.m. Harbottle Brewing
  • Local Love: Battle Of The Bands - 7 p.m. House of Bards
  • Strange Vacation - 9 p.m. Crooked Tooth Brewery
  • Katastro, Tyrone's Jacket - 7 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Gary Morris - 8 p.m. Rialto
  • Rival Shapes w/ Bad Girls From Affluent Backgrounds - 8 p.m. Club Congress
  • Raza Ordinaria,Taylored Melancholy - 9 p.m. Surly Wench
  • Stay The Night Burlesque - 9 p.m. Cans Deli
  • Shrimp Chaperone - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern

Saturday, Aug 25

  • Mr. Nature's Music Garden - 11 a.m. Tap &Bottle North
  • Tucson Folk Festival End Of Summer Kickoff - 5 p.m. Borderlands Brewing
  • Hickoids, Pork Torta at Club Congress - 6 p.m. Club Congress
  • Joyce Luna and Friends - 7 p.m. Congregation Chaverim
  • Rodrigo Y Gabriela - 8 p.m. Rialto
  • Young Dubliners - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Lisa O'Neill - 8 p.m.Exo Roast Co.
  • Taco Sauce, Marching Powder - 9 p.m.Sky Bar
  • Santa Pachita, Los Streetlight Curb Players - 10 p.m. The Hut
  • Lenguas Largas , Jason Paul - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern

Sunday, Aug 26

  • Rilen'Out,Blue Collar Criminals ,Manapla,The Acousticrist - 5 p.m.The Rock
  • Last Sunday Revival, Christopher T. Stevens - 5 p.m. Tap & Bottle
  • Jonica Butcher - 5 p.m. Public Brewhouse
  • Help End Systemic Domestic Violence w/Bryce Rogers,Travelers, Zero Miles to Empty,Storms in Motion,Elevenacity,Sounds Delicious,Habitual Resonance,Method to the Madness - 6 p.m.Surly Wench
  • (Instrumental) Golden Boots - 6 p.m. Che's Lounge
  • Flynt Flossy & Turquoise Jeep - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Zachary Reid, IJSYD, Black Cube Angel , Quaker Folk - 9 p.m.

Monday, Aug 27

  • Yelawolf - 8 p.m. Rialto

Tuesday, Aug 28

  • Swing Away, Conserve, Flying Half Full, Banana Pancakes - 7 p.m.Spark Project Collective
  • Carbon Canyon, Bandeye, The Tortilla Factory - 8 p.m. Cans Deli
  • Ottmar Liebert, Luna Negra - 8 p.m. Rialto

Wednesday, Aug 29

  • HOCO Fest Night 1:Bad Gyal, Topaz Jones,Dreamcast , Street Blues Family ,Combo Chimbita , Anjelica,Mirror Gazer,Djentrification , Gila Man, DJQ - 6 p.m. Club Congress
  • Christopher T. Stevens - 7 p.m. Tap & Bottle North
  • Mammoth Indigo w/ Feverfew - 7 p.m.Monterey Court
  • SpaceDrafts 50: Lasers and the (Simulated) Light Show - 7 p.m. Borderlands Brewing
  • Swingin' Utters, Endless Pursuit, Bordertown Devils, Lost In Society - 7 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Natalie Pohanic - 7 p.m. Public Brewhouse

Thursday, Aug 30

  • HOCO Fest Night 2: Lil B, Dean Blunt,Mhysa,Marshstepper ,Alex Zhang Hungtai, BLVC SVND, Nghtcrwlr, Jock Club, Sui Blue,Positive Satan
  • Skull Drug, Terminally Ill, Noogy - 7 p.m. Spark Project Collective
  • KYKLO - 7 p.m. The Coronet
  • YOU, New Men, Charmaine's Names, The Frecks - 8 p.m. Cans Deli
  • Wooden Tooth DJ Night - 8 p.m. Che's Lounge
  • Scott Yoder - 10 p.m.Owls Club
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Courtesy of the band

Rival Shapes

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