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Weekend music: DIY sunshine pops up
All around town, your weekend music forecast is bright and sunny.
Partly sunny/partly cloudy
Sure, life went on—and it may be sentimental—but when ageless scene champion Mullarkey packed his bags and relocated to Phoenix back in 2013, shows in the local underground music community did feel a little less communal in his absence. That isn’t melodrama or hyperbole; Mullarkey was at nearly every music event that had ties to this city’s DiY/punk legacy.
In the last year of Mullarkey’s decade-long residence in Tucson, he focused his energies on the tiny all-ages venue TLMS (Tucson Live Music Space and now renamed Gary’s Place with a slightly different cast of organizers), nestled in a converted garage at 125 W. Ventura St., near the intersection of Grant Road and Stone Avenue.
“Fuck downtown!” became Mullarkey’s informal greeting to me during this time, and his efforts to take music outside of downtown bar culture were exciting and admirable, as were his lower-profile excursions into performing his own material. First emphasizing the twee-pop aspects of '80s Velvet Underground disciples such as The Pastels and The Vaselines with his excellent band Monster Pussy — who named themselves after a Vaselines song — Mullarkey shifted his primary attention to Run-On Sunshine, which remains his current musical endeavor.
Run-On Sunshine isn’t much different from Monster Pussy — the lyrics are still disarming and hilarious, the music still a shambolic bicycle pile-up of amateurishness — and the major distinction is the trading in of collapsing guitars for Casiotone electronics. But the point of Run-On Sunshine, and Mullarkey’s vision in general, isn’t musical sophistication. In fact, it’s easy to argue that the pursuit of any kind of musicality comes in a distant second to the idea the band stands for — creating a safe space far away from even the most elementary concessions to the things by which musical success can be judged.
Run-On Sunshine is about embodying possibility and forging your own path. That idea is so intrinsic to what indie rock was pre-Internet and so obsolete to what indie rock is now that it’s quaint and novel. But it could also be argued that we need that philosophy more than ever in 2015. Run-On Sunshine celebrates the release of its fantastic — as expected — split cassette “Where the Kids are Bikeways” at 191 Toole on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Sharing the bill and the album is Tucson’s always amazing Algae and Tentacles, with openers Hibris and Psywave.
No owner/no owned
Tucson’s most visible poster-artists, Pop Narkotic, visually and contextually bring to mind the promotional art that was completely intertwined with San Francisco’s 1960s rock culture, particularly the gigs by titans such as The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane over at the Fillmore West. The music was born out of ex-folkies reinventing themselves as stylish, socially conscious rock ’n’ rollers and the look, as evidenced from the posters was a million flowers blooming from a few acid tabs.
Of course it was naive, and depending on your age and/or tolerance for utopian ideals, it was either insufferable garbage or a new age of consciousness. And it was neither, and it was both.
While Tucson doesn’t have a central venue that parallels Pop Narkotic and the musicians it associates itself with — idealists with hippie-ish tendencies like Keli Carpenter, Carlos Arzate & the Kind Souls, the late and great Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl, among many others who don’t fit into that description so easily — it really doesn’t need one. Pop Narkotic is an established brand, and one glimpse of their show posters give you a basic blueprint of what you’re going to get.
Two acts — V(annessa) Lundon, of whom it’s difficult to remember a time when she wasn’t performing (that’s a good thing), and the newer Jillian & the Giants — aren’t necessarily hippies or idealists, but their respective introspection and gentility fit squarely within the Pop Narkotic aesthetic. Lundon’s consistently excellent textural and acoustic-based pop-rock and Jillian & the Giants' not-too-rock-at-all pop show the best of the veteran and neophyte sounds of this scene, and the two perform together at Club Congress at 7 p.m. on Saturday with opener Lisa Lemke.
Other shows you’d be wise to attend in the coming week are: The Unday, Alien Jane and One Eyed Doll at The Flycatcher on Thursday; Whispering Wires, Dr. Sleep and Shooda Shook It at La Cocina on Thursday; Human Behavior, Sir Richard Bishop and Robert Millis at Exploded View on Friday; La Cerca, Golden Boots and The Donkeys at Club Congress on Friday; Last Call Brawlers, Pygmy Death Ray and Xerox and the D.T.s at Surly Wench on Friday; Amy Mendoza Band at The Playground, on Saturday; Laura and the Killed Men at Che’s Lounge on Sunday; Romo Tonight Live featuring musical guest Sun Bones at The Flycatcher on Sunday; Vanish Twin, Scar Eater and Eye of Nix at The Flycatcher on Wednesday, April 29.