From doom metal legends and country queens to indomitable pop divas, it's all happening this month
1. The Melvins at Venue – Thursday, May 2
Facebook/Melvins ArmyAs the great legend of the Pacific Northwest goes, The Melvins were supposedly Kurt Cobain’s favourite band. While Cobain is, of course, no longer around to confirm or dispute, we still have Montesano’s official dudes of doom-metal available at our disposal, so there’s no better time or excuse to lace up your Docs and layer up your flannel. If you’re looking to do a bit of tune shopping to get ready for this gig, you really should because this outfit carries a hefty 30 records in their arsenal, so you’ll have plenty to pore over while you get primed for an evening of classic PNW sludge. And if that doesn’t win you over, there’s always Buzz Osborne’s most excellent lid to consider, because who here doesn’t love a spectacular fro?
2. KT Tunstall at Imperial – Monday, May 6
Facebook/KT TunstallUnfortunately for me, each time someone brings up the name KT Tunstall, all I can think about is that episode of American Idol during which Katharine McPhee awkwardly performed “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” on her knees. Trust me, I’m fully aware that Tunstall has way more up her sleeve than all those random “woo hoo”s would have me believe, but—man!—was that performance ever uncomfortable. Not KT’s fault, as the Scottish singer-songwriter has accumulated an impressive discography in the years since the release of that hugely popular single, including 2018’s critically acclaimed Wax, the second album in the trilogy of “soul, body and mind” (if you’re wondering, the first was 2016’s Kin, and we’re still waiting on the third). Get your mitts on one of those newer offerings and get your butt on out to Chinatown to catch this accomplished artist. No “woo hoos” necessary.
3. The Tea Party at Commodore Ballroom – Thursday, May 9 and Friday, May 10
Facebook/The Tea Party BandNot to be confused with the conservative political movement south of the 49th, and bearing no relation to the Mad Hatter, The Tea Party are hitting VanCity for two nights at Granville Street’s most legendary hardwood venue. Led by consummate multi-instrumentalist Jeff Martin (honestly, how many rock singers do you know who can play an oud?), Windsor’s masters of “Moroccan roll” have earned quite the pedigree since launching in 1990, amassing their fair share of gold, platinum and double-platinum certifications and selling over two million records worldwide (that might not seem like much to you, but this is a Canadian band and, believe me, that’s an impressive sales number in this country). Sadly, for weekend warriors, the Friday show has been completely sold out for quite some time now. But Thursday’s gig is wide open, so there’s no better excuse to plan to arrive at work a little late the next morning. It’ll be worth it because these guys are not to be missed.
Tickets from $53.50 for Thursday and resales for Friday
4. ABRA Cadabra at River Rock Casino Resort – Saturday, May 11
Facebook/Abra CadabraThere seems to be something going on with ABBA lately that I have a hard time wrapping my head around. For a band that broke up 37 years ago, it’s absolutely bizarre to me that their popularity is stronger than ever. Even my all-time favourite musician extols their praises at each of his concerts, stating, “If you say you don’t like ABBA, you’re a liar.” Okay, thanks Steven Wilson, but I’ve been called worse. People lose their minds over Sweden’s beloved quartet, and the business of covering them has become a thriving industry unto itself. So it is with that knowledge that Vancouver’s own ABRA Cadabra has been circling the globe and performing for dignitaries over the past 18 years. Make no mistake, this outfit is about as legit as you can get when it comes to tribute acts. You may also want to look at the calendar on this one as it’s Mother’s Day eve, and whose mom doesn’t love ABBA? Nobody’s mom, that’s who! Looking for a last-minute gift? I’ve got ya covered at the link below.
5. Rock of Ages at Abbotsford Centre – Saturday, May 11
Rock of AgesSomebody out there thought it would be a good idea to create a musical of a really bad movie. I don’t know who this person is, but Rock of Ages is a live thing now, and I could not be more dumbfounded by it. It’s bad enough we were all supposed to buy Tom Cruise as a rock star (really, Stacee Jaxx—yeah, that’s legit), now we’re supposed to suspend our belief long enough to shell out over 85 clams to see this thing at an arena. But, hey, if that price seems a little steep, you can get a hefty discount for groups of 10 or more. However, I’m telling you right now, if you can find nine other people who actually care about this, my condolences, and you deserve something more than a few dollars off.
Tickets from $85.25
6. Twenty One Pilots at Rogers Arena – Sunday, May 12
Facebook/Twenty One PilotsIf you’re one of my loyal readers (again, thanks to all six of you for enduring my rants), you may recall last month I mentioned how Stingray Loud went on this jag awhile back, bombarding me with non-stop videos of July Talk backed up against non-stop videos of Twenty One Pilots. Honestly, I didn’t get it, and I certainly didn’t get why the frontman painted his neck and hands black to signify “insecurity.” I think that particular fashion statement was supposed to suggest these guys were somehow deep. You know, sorta like how George’s girlfriend thought Jerry was dark and disturbed in that episode of Seinfeld when George asked Jerry to stop being funny so that… oh, never mind. Anyway, if you think neck painting is the new black, then this Ohio alt/pop/emo/indie/rap/punk duo is just the thing for you. I do, however, suggest you try using coconut oil to help remove all that paint or ink from whatever body part you’re intending to cover. Thank me later.
Tickets from $88.65
7. Elle King at Commodore Ballroom – Tuesday, May 21
Facebook/Elle King MusicI’m not entirely ashamed to admit I sometimes watch a little bit of trash TV. That’s right, somewhere between bouts of composing this magnificent concert preview column for you and creating questionably valid works of art for all seven of my Instagram followers (I’m only just slightly more popular on the IG than I am over here), I do find time to watch some television. So, while viewing a recent episode of American Idol, I exclaimed to my husband, “Hey, I had no idea Lindsay from My Giant Life could sing!” If you weren’t aware, My Giant Life was a TLC reality show featuring extremely tall women getting through their regular day-to-day. First of all, I’m only 5’2”, so my ability to relate is a bit small, to say the very least. Secondly, The “Learning Channel" has taught me some valid lessons—from empathy for the vertically-enhanced to the safest procedure for extracting a Smart car-sized lipoma from any random forehead. But I digress, the singer I saw was not a freakishly tall woman from a reality show, but in fact, retro-blues/modern-pop chanteuse Elle King. Get yourself out to the Commodore to catch this fiercely talented singer-songwriter as she performs cuts from her critically acclaimed release, Shake the Spirit. And I hereby apologize to both ladies on this case of mistaken identity, but a little bit of Google will help you spot the uncanny resemblance.
Tickets from $73.78
8. Carrie Underwood at Rogers Arena – Saturday, May 25
Facebook/Carrie UnderwoodDid I not just mention I watch American Idol? Yeah, I think I did—more than once. With the exception of that horrific season featuring Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj (what were they thinking?), it’s been a constant—yet guilty—source of entertainment in my household. As it turns out, Idol’s most successful artist (sit down, Kelly Clarkson, I got this info from Forbes proper) is coming to town. That’s right, Carrie Underwood has sold over 65-million records worldwide and is the recipient of seven Grammy Awards, 10 Billboard Awards, 14 ACM Awards, 13 American Music Awards and nine CMA Awards. Jesus, take the wheel, 'cause there’s no denying those are some staggering numbers right there! Well, now she’s bringing her Cry Pretty Tour 360 to the very venue where her husband (former Predators forward Mike Fisher) slammed various Canucks into the plexi-glass. It’s worth noting the best thing about this particular tour... is it’s in the round! No matter where you’re sitting, you’ll get a great view of Oklahoma’s sweetheart as she belts out your favourite contemporary country tunes.
Tickets from $75.10
9. Alessia Cara at Queen Elizabeth Theatre – Monday, May 27
Facebook/Alessia CaraIn an industry filled with pop tarts of questionable talent, Ontario native Alessia Cara defies convention. This poised and intelligent young woman has made it her mission to introduce herself as a down-to-earth and likable personality, something that’s generally lacking in a business oversaturated by vanity and arrogance. Writing and performing songs about deeply personal experiences (instead of disposable fluff like, say, “Party in the U.S.A.”), this girl is the real deal, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. She was named the Best New Artist at the 2018 Grammy Awards, making her the very first Canadian to win the honour. Put aside some time to catch this burgeoning talent now, if only to prove there’s still hope for humanity in a marketplace that’s far too eager to reward complacency.
Tickets from $60.50
10. Cher with Nile Rodgers and CHIC at Rogers Arena – Thursday, May 30
Facebook/CherIs everybody obsessed with ABBA? Turns out Cher is all about them. So much so that the 73-year-old diva recorded an entire album of their material and launched this extensive tour just to perform ABBA songs for you. I mean, really? Okay, well, I’m not about to tell this fabulous woman what to do because, after being in the business for a staggering 54 years, I think she has the right to sing whatever the hell she wants. If you need a little extra incentive to pull the trigger on tickets for this thing, may I suggest showing up to catch Nile Rodgers and CHIC? Rodgers, the disco/soul musician, songwriter, producer, arranger, composer and two-time cancer survivor has sold more than 500-million albums and 75-million singles worldwide. What? Yes, I said sold. Take that, Spotify streamers! Do not—I repeat!—DO NOT show up late for this event because this ageless and effortless funkster-of-all-trades will knock… your… socks… off… from the very moment he steps under the spotlight. I don’t want to hear you come crying to me when you miss this dude, so pony up and arrive early!
Tickets from $66.60