Rochester walks a line between wild and mild this weekend, as a host of bands intent on bringing music back to its roots play bars across the city.
The crown jewel of this weekend’s entertainment schedule is Modern Era, a garage rock band from Minneapolis that seriously brings the noise. They play Friday night at Kathy’s Pub.
Modern Era’s aim is to kill all the filler, and they’re doing just that, as evidenced by their newest release, “The Holiday EP,” available for streaming on the band’s website.
The tracks on “The Holiday EP” exemplify the band’s penchant for balancing frantic energy and wholesome hooks. Lead singer Jack Swagger’s yowling vocals, paired with the group’s fast and loose guitars and driving rhythm section, makes for music that begs to be played as loud as possible.
If you need any more convincing, here is a parting fact: These guys once toured with legendary rockers The Meat Puppets. If you’re not sure who the Meat Puppets are, bust out your VHS copy of Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged” set from 1993 and look closely at the other guys on the stage.
If you’re out on Friday night and looking for a rowdy show without all the distortion, look no further than the North Star Bar, where local outlaw country band JT Thompson & The Gunslingers will rip up the stage with some of their notoriously fast strumming and straight shooting lyrics starting around 9:30 p.m.
According to the band’s Facebook page, the group intends to bring “the soul that has been ripped from music by the big money labels.”
If the videos of their performances are any indication, these guys are accomplishing what they’ve set out to do. Singer JT Thompson has a rich voice and his bandmates play country in an old-school style that doesn’t reek of pop crossover attempts.
Friday night also features a lesson in music history when Memory Brothers, an act that’s been playing together since the mid-1960s, graces the VFW with their presence. Led by core members Doug Koempel and Larry Crandall, the group plays a unique brand of soft rock that’s tempered with the sounds of the decades they’ve played through. The show starts at 8 p.m. and runs until midnight.
You can preview their sound by looking them up on iTunes, where a collection of some their best work is available for purchase and preview. The album is called “The Best of the Memory Brothers – The Middle Years 1984-1997.”
“California Bound,” a track you can stream on their website, is a perfect slice of the group’s mellow-rock stylings and crystal clear vocal delivery.
If you’re searching for something even more mellow on Friday night, head over to The Wicked Moose’s acoustic stage, where Sothea Lam is playing an acoustic set. Lam is a Rochester local best known as the guitarist and singer of local crowd-pleasers Push & Turn. His set starts at 9 p.m.
On Saturday night, Jon Wayne and The Pain, a trio from Minneapolis that specializes in reggae-rock of the dubbed-out variety, will take the stage at Whiskey Bones Roadhouse starting at 9 p.m.
Jon Wayne and The Pain’s sound is a futuristic blend of styles that can claim influence from artists like Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Deadmau5. Their latest album, “Surrender,” is available on Bandcamp for streaming and purchase.