Catch the Joy Formidable tomorrow night at the Bluebird.
Catch the Joy Formidable tomorrow night at the Bluebird.

Weekend's best live bets: Joy Formidable, Girls, Miranda Lambert, Kelly Clarkson and more

With pretty much the entire music world holed up in Austin this weekend for this year's edition of SXSW, it's amazing that there's any musical options to choose from this weekend at all, much less decent ones. Alas, though, there are still plenty of compelling reasons to leave the house. Girls get the Gothic going tonight, while the Joy Formidable brings its jubilant brand of indie rock to the Bluebird Theater tomorrow night. Over at 1STBANK Center, meanwhile, the arena hosts a pair of back-to-back shows from Miranda Lambert and Kelly Clarkson. Page down for this weekend's best live music bets.


GIRLS @ GOTHIC THEATRE Christopher Owens and Chet White formed Girls in 2007, when the two met in the Bay Area. Owens, who was brought up in the Children of God cult, had effectively been cut off from the kinds of cultural knowledge most kids experience before the age of sixteen. Once he had access to more music, he made up for lost time and, like White, experienced the whole punk and hardcore thing before moving on to music with more emotional nuance. As Girls, Owens and White have written dreamily evocative pop songs crossed with threads of experimental guitar rock and R&B. Even in its sweetest moments, there is an urgent tension to the the music that draws you into the act's emotional wake. Incandescent, psychedelic melodies haunt the songs of these Girls.

MUNLY & THE LUPERCALIANS @ BENDER'S TAVERN Jay Munly's presence can be a bit frightening at times. And with some of the Lupercalians wearing black robes and cone hats and others wearing burlap hoods at their shows, the whole experience treads on the verge of being downright creepy -- probably not something you'd want to take your five-year-old daughter to. But if you wanted her, or anyone else, to get a completely different take on the children's tale Peter and the Wolf, written over seventy years ago by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev, just park her between a pair of speakers and have her behold the dark glory of Munly & the Lupercalians' Petr & the Wulf. There's still some of the gothic country of Slim Cessna's Auto Club, of which Munly is co-frontman, but sometimes the twang is stripped away in favor of a completely different musical experience that can be as joyous as it is sinister.

Also Tonight:

- Guttermouth with Boldtype at the Marquis theater

- The Band of Heathens with Ryan Montbleau Band at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom

- Buffalo Rebellion at Appaloosa Grill

- Carpe Canem with Saint Christopher and Killzone at Old Crutis Street Bar

- Diane Jobe at Lincoln's Road House

- Eric Lane at FuNuGyz

- Faceman with Jonny Woodrose & The Broken-Hearted Woodpeckers, Vox De Ville at The Walnut Room

- Fort Knox Five with Thunderball and All Good Funk Alliance at Cervantes' Other Side

- Vance Gilbert at Swallow Hill Music Hall

- "Head Nod" with DJs Mu$a and Nofrendo at Meadowlark

- Idlewhile Band with Denver City Saltlicks at Skylark Lounge

- The Lollygags with Calling Morocco and Bohannons at Loin's Lair

- The Particular Pretzelmen with Alex Dalton, Champagne Charlie and Fiction is Fun at Larimer Lounge

- The Polish Ambassador at Aggie Theatre

- Railroad Earth at Belly Up Aspen

- Saint Patty's Eve of Destruction With FOS, Ndaaz, Forever Stands the Martyr, Signs of Malice with special guests at Casselman's Bar & Venue

- Something Underground with Hazel Miller Band and the Humbuckers at Herman's Hideaway

- Stealth Hippo (CD release) With the Amends, Quillion, and Firemouth at Oriental Theater


MIRANDA LAMBERT @ 1STBANK CENTER Miranda Lambert has struck a delicate balance: Together with kindred artists like Jamey Johnson, she's made country music palatable once again to the sanctimonious scads of big-city, Tea Party-loathing dissenters, infusing the genre with a newfound sense of authenticity missing since the days of her legendary outlaw forefathers. At the same time, she's managed to write earnest, heartfelt, everyman ballads like "The House That Built Me," as well as gritty, angst-filled anthems of empowerment like "Gunpowder and Lead" and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" that resonate with rank-and-file fans of modern country, affording her truckloads of crossover appeal and street cred -- not to mention a serious leg up on her contemporaries.

THE JOY FORMIDABLE @ BLUEBIRD THEATRE Ritzy Bryan and Rhydian Dafydd pretty much grew up together in North Wales and formed their first band, Tricky Nixon, while living in Manchester. When that outfit split up, in 2006, the two wasted little time in putting together what would become the Joy Formidable when they moved back to Wales. Over the next five years, the three-piece created a bright sound comprising broad vistas and sweeping dynamics, pushed along by a notable urgency and exuberance. Immediate comparisons could be drawn to the shimmering electricity of Split-era Lush and the wiry guitar experimentation of Medicine, but this act seems to hurl itself into the music with a startling forcefulness worthy of its name. Its most recent album is titled The Big Roar, which is entirely fitting for a group that doesn't promise anything it can't deliver.

REBELUTION @ THE FILLMORE It's taken time and experience for Eric Rachmany to learn how to be comfortable in the spotlight. Rachmany, frontman for the Santa Barbara reggae outfit Rebelution, is soft-spoken and humble, a songwriter who's uncomfortable writing lyrics about his own experiences. Rachmany says he's dealt with the duties of fame in different ways, from writing songs from different perspectives to incorporating a saxophone player in the band's live shows.

Also Tonight:

- Big Chocolate With Eprom at City Hall

- Chest Rockwell at 3 Kings Tavern

- Circle Number Dot with DWI and Greys of Gold at Old Curtis Street Bar

- The Josh Quinlan Quintet (CD release) at Dazzle Restaurant and Lounge

- Miranda Lambert with Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann at 1st Bank Center

- Mad Dog & the Smokin J's at Meadowlark

- Meniskus at Appaloosa Grill

- Official Rebelution After Party featuring Fortunate Youth at Cervantes' Other Side

- Pat Green at Belly up Aspen

- Pletys Mographia at Oriental Theater

- Reno Divorce with Potato Pirates, No Bueno, A Memory Down and Hawk Attack at Herman's Hideaway

- The Shanty Vamps with St. Christopher and Strong City at Lion's Lair

- The Wailers at Aggie Theatre

- Saul Williams at Marquis Theater


KELLY CLARKSON @ 1ST BANK CENTER After winning American Idol in 2002, Kelly Clarkson scored a contract with RCA Records and released her debut, Faithful, the following year. Since then, the singer-songwriter went on to release another four albums, including last year's Stronger, which has hints of country, R&B in it as well as pop. Arguably the most successful artist the Fox flagship has ever spawned, Clarkson has a distinctive, instantly identifiable voice that bolsters the believability of her woman-scorned songs of empowerment.

"LATIN QUARTER" WITH THE MANUEL LOPEZ LATIN JAZZ TRIO Colorado native Manuel Lopez discovered a fondness for Latin music after he stared playing congas in his early teens, and then found his way to the drum kit. Together with pianist Peter Ellingson and bassist Eduardo "Bijoux" Barbosa, Lopez's trio delves into a variety of repertoire from old Cuban standards to more modern arrangements. The trio plays at Dazzle every Sunday evening.

Also Tonight:

- Axe Murder Boys at Aggie Theatre

- Bromantica with Vaughn McPherson at Old Curtis Street

- Crazy Fox with Baby Cowboy at 3 Kings Tavern

- Chain Station at Quixote's True Blue

- Chayne Clouds with Shadow the Truth, Julox, C-Nile Da Vincci, MANIAC, Albeez and DJ Jamin'-I at Herman's Hideaway

- Greyweather with Nigel Wimberely, Black Postcards, Sideffect, Consortia at Larimer Lounge

- Gungor at Gothic Theatre

- Storey & Clark at Loin's Lair

- Water and Bones with the Orchid Set, Green Thieves and the David James Band at The Walnut Room

Follow Backbeat on Twitter: @westword_music

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