Price: $30 Advance / $35 Day of Show / $130 VIP
This show is rescheduled from May 12, 2020. All purchased tickets from original date will be honored.
VIP Meet & Greet Package:* 1 Event Ticket* 1 Meet & Greet and Photo Opp with Greg Dulli* Invitation to Soundcheck Viewing Access* 1 Exclusive Merch Package Designed for VIP Purchasers* 1 Commemorative VIP Laminate
Without desire, most of the world's problems would be solved and it would be a miserable place to live. For the last 30 years, Greg Dulli has been the poet laureate of the bizarre whims and cruel tangents of desire. A foremost authority on the sell-your-soul rewards of carnal lust, the high voltage epiphanies of chemical enhancement, and the serotonin lows left in their wake. The front man of the Afghan Whigs has long been on a first-name basis with his demons, most of whom eventually relented and let him pour them a shot. But then there are the known unknowns at the heart of our nature, the intractable difficulties of love and death, and the recurring human desire for survival and rebirth.
Therein lies Random Desire, the first solo album under Dulli's own name, following canonized stints at the helm of The Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers. The title is a play on "random selection," which refers to a process that researchers use to pick participants for a study. When using this method, every single member of a population has an "equal chance of being chosen as a subject." Recontextualized, it allows us to realize the randomness of existence, the odd alchemy of emotions, chemistry, and circumstance that baffle us to no end. The reasons why artists write songs and why listeners need them. And even if the answers are evasive, that's no excuse to quit searching.
Random Desire started in the aftermath of the last Whigs record, 2017's In Spades, which Pitchfork named one of the best rock records of the year, hailing it as a "heavy, menacing work of indie rock majesty...thrilling and unsettling." Drummer Patrick Keeler was about to take a short sabbatical to record and tour with his other band, The Raconteurs. Dulli's longtime collaborator, bassist John Curley went back to school, and there was the tragic death of the band's guitarist, Dave Rosser.
In response, Dulli returned to his teenage bedroom roots, finding musical inspiration via the model of one-man-band visionaries Prince and Todd Rundgren. The Los Angeles-by-way-of-Hamilton Ohio native wrote nearly every part of the record from piano lines to drums to bass riffs. As always, the music came first and the lyrics were completed later. Recording and writing way stations included his home in Silver Lake, the village of Crestline high up in mountains above San Bernardino, and New Orleans. But the bulk was finished amidst the arid beauty and stark isolation of Joshua Tree (at the studio of engineer Christopher Thorne. Dulli handled most instrumentation, but an all-star cast of characters appear across the track-listing including The Whigs' guitarist Jon Skibic and multi-instrumentalist Rick G. Nelson, Mathias Schneeberger (Twilight Singers), pedal steel wizard, upright bassist, and physician Dr. Stephen Patt, and drummer Jon Theodore (Queens of the Stone Age, The Mars Volta).
If many of his grunge-era peers are tapped out or resting beneath, Dulli has proven that creativity can be infinite with a voodoo imagination that tilts towards constant revolution. A gris gris man in the vein of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Nick Cave, or the dearly departed Purple One, Dulli's never made the same album twice, shapeshifting through funk, soul, hip-hop, jazz, and bloody knuckled rock n' roll without wandering too far from the essence of what defines his sound. But don't expect your older brother's Afghan Whigs. There are serrated guitar attacks, sure, but there are also threnodies built atop sepulchral piano lines, plaintive acoustic hymnals, goth-rock benders, Bedouin caravan raggas, and the occasional hip-hop 808s slap.
The bulk of Random Desire cohered in a six-month whirlwind last year. After writing songs for the previous 18 months, Dulli scrapped all but "A Ghost" and "Scorpio." Into the void came a narcotic lovers lament like "Sempre," which gathers dark strength from the fatalistic comfort of knowing that things might never get any easier. It's a bittersweet kiss off to a lover, laughing at their cruelness with a knowing sneer. As a wise man once said, it's that ether that makes your soul burn slow. There is "Pantomima," the Spanish and Italian word for "pantomine," rooted in the everyday deceptions of people who babble with borrowed words. It almost plays out like a Go Team! song, if the squad lost the game and consoled themselves by letting chaos engulf them. The tone is set from the sardonic taunts of the album's first bars: desolation, come and get it.
"Marry Me" is a midnight of the soul number full of delicate guitar and moonlit ambience, a pedal steel sighing like a woeful regret in the distance -- the words full of ambiguous questions and recollected sin. "It Falls Apart" floats with aquatic translucency, introducing the album's experimental second half and the gut-punch feeling that whatever romance was sparked will soon be extinguished.
"Scorpio" boasts the de facto Prince nod with a middle portion borrowing the symbol's pitched up Camille falsetto. While "Lockless" pays tribute to the creative benefits of loneliness, the shock that you still possess the ability to be surprised and the numbing revelation that your worst suspicions usually come true. "Slow Pan" is the slinking finale, the end credits with a Last Waltz grace. The screen fades out as a harp angelically hums (as the holy spirit of Dorothy Ashby would've intended).
Clocking in at a lean 37 minutes, Random Desire is a clinic put on by a veteran master operating at the height of his powers, offering evidence of the hard-fought and weary wisdom learned from setbacks and victories alike. A lucid, confident and self-assured document of the songs of experience, the perils of existence, and the possibilities that offer themselves anew with each breath. Another death and rebirth from an outlaw who has seen it all and somehow lived to tell.
If there's such a thing as the opposite of writer's block, Joseph Arthur has it. Indeed, the Akron, Ohio-bred/Brooklyn, N.Y.-residing singer/songwriter, who once released four EPs in the span of as many months, was deep into work on two distinct albums when the music that became The Graduation Ceremony suddenly bubbled to the forefront. Arthur had written a new song, Out on a Limb, on a friend's guitar while in Los Angeles. That song turned into 10 additional acoustic tracks, which were recorded spontaneously at Sheldon Gomberg's studio in one marathon session. "I'm always looking for creative outlets when I'm in L.A., because L.A. scares me," Arthur says. "There's great energy in not being home. So I called Sheldon and said I had some songs to record, and would he be up for it? He said, 'Sure,' and I said, 'Well, I'm already outside. Can I come in?' (laughs) I went through all these tracks -- some old, some brand new ones that I hadn't recorded - on mostly first or second takes, and that was going to be a record." But Arthur began to feel that the sessions were "undercooked and underproduced," so he turned to legendary drummer Jim Keltner to give them an extra kick. Keltner had played on Arthur's 2000 breakthrough album "Come To Where I'm From," and the pair had re-connected while working on Fistful of Mercy, the eponymous 2010 debut from Arthur's band with Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison. To nudge the new material closer to completion, Arthur then teamed with producer John Alagia, at whose Village studio Fistful of Mercy had played its first public gig in 2010. Alagia had previously produced You're So True, Arthur's 2004 contribution to the Shrek 2 soundtrack. "I said to John, 'Maybe you could mix this acoustic, Jim Keltner thing,'" Arthur says. "I gave it to him in the state it was in, but he thought it wasn't quite where it should be. So, he came to my place in Brooklyn and I played him all this different stuff I was doing. Then I went to his place in Santa Monica. We didn't know what we were doing - suddenly there were 50 different tracks from a bunch of different works-in-progress that were potentially going to be deconstructed." "But it wound up coming all the way back to just the Jim Keltner stuff. It had a soul and a vibe. It was perfect. We could produce it up a little bit. All it really took was adding a little production on the choruses to make them pop out more." Under Alagia's direction, adding additional color were indie queen Liz Phair, who contributes vocals to "Midwest," violinist Jessy Greene, who also played on the Fistful of Mercy album, and Line and Circle front-man Brian Cohen, who sings throughout the record. Cohen, who grew up across the street from Arthur in Akron, Ohio, accompanied Arthur on the initial trip to Gomberg's studio, which birthed The Graduation Ceremony. "Brian was like the other voice on this album. He's great in that context," Arthur says. "He's got a really great voice, and there's great chemistry between us. And, he was very supportive. He really helped this record out with his enthusiasm and support." The finished product is one of Arthur's most beautiful, understated pieces of work in a two-decade career that includes seven prior studio albums and 11 EPs, plus collaborations with Peter Gabriel and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe. The material is rife with Arthur's trademark poetic lyrics, whether sketching a portrait of his hometown (Midwest) or recounting a breakup in unflinching detail (Gypsy Faded). Of the former, Arthur says, "That song has been in the cage for a long time. I have different versions of it. It's about childhood, and growing up in a town with a dead downtown, and going into your imagination out in suburbia." Of the latter, he reveals, "I was writing from the heart, even though it was a bad situation that was creating it. That song has a force because of it. It's hyper-real." Elsewhere, album opener Out on a Limb and Almost Blue harken back to dreamy, deeply felt songs like Honey and the Moon from 2002's Redemption's Son, while the strident Over the Sun deftly incorporates layers of vocals with atmospheric keyboard textures. Arthur will release The Graduation Ceremony on his own Lonely Astronaut label. "This record is important for me right now. I feel like on some level I've been in the penalty box," he says with a chuckle. "I don't feel like the work I've put out warrants being in the penalty box, but maybe the manner I put it out is why. Or maybe there is no penalty box, or there is no me (laughs). Either way, it was important that I put out a strong record, and I think this fits the bill." Growing up in the '70s and '80s in Akron, Arthur's musical life started off like many others, with mandatory piano lessons. But once he realized he could use the piano to conjure up his own musical worlds, he took to the instrument and began writing songs, eventually playing in bands while in high school. Days after graduation, he moved to Atlanta with a band, playing bass and supporting himself with day jobs at a music store and tattoo shop. At the time, Arthur aspired to be a world-class jazz or fusion bass player in the vein of the late Jaco Pastorius. But when a demo tape of Arthur's songs somehow made its way to Peter Gabriel and his Real World Records label, "I came to find out that Peter thought the bass playing was weak on my stuff, but what he liked was the lyrics." Next thing Arthur knew, he was playing at Gabriel's WOMAD festival (despite having played solo acoustic "maybe one time before"), jamming with Gabriel and Joe Strummer in Real World studios in Bath, England, and was subsequently signed to Real World Records. "It was crazy," Arthur says. "I think I like repeating the story more the older I get." And while Arthur's 1997 debut, Big City Secrets, attracted a substantial following abroad, the artist didn't connect with Stateside listeners until Come To Where I'm From, which features his signature song, In the Sun. That track was covered by R.E.M.'s Stipe and Coldplay's Chris Martin in 2006 on a charity single to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina, having previously been recorded a decade earlier by Gabriel for a Princess Diana tribute album. Previously nominated for a best recording package Grammy for his 1999 EP Vacancy, Arthur is an accomplished painter, having displayed his works in galleries around the world. His online-only "Museum of Modern Arthur" serves as a repository for his creations.