MUSIC BOX: Bright Lights and Sounds

By on February 9, 2016

Austin quartet brings profound, textured songs to the Tavern.

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Ready for fists-up rock ‘n’ roll with a statement? There’s a philosophical depth to Austin quartet Bright Lights Social Hour. Just take a gander at its blog, “Future South” to see the stories and contemplation that sparked the band’s sophomore full-length, “Space Is Still the Place.”

The music hits you from varying degrees of intensity—disco Southern rock, contemporary indie, R&B, airy psychedelic, and soul-funk. It also ponders the fragility and isolation of the human condition, the socio-political, and the future of our Earth. What’s clear is that Curtis Roush (guitar, vocals, synths), Jack O’Brien (bass, vocals, synths) and Joseph Mirasole (drums, synths) decided to turn their immediate surroundings into productive song subjects. Edward Braillif (guitar, synths) rounds out the band of brunette longhairs.

“The new album’s themes and inspirations came from touring, particularly the Southern part of the country,” explained O’Brien. “We couldn’t afford to stay in hotels most nights so we were staying with a lot of people. We got to see how average young Americans lived. We felt a lot of struggle.”

“It was shocking,” added Roush. “We realized how few individuals were working jobs they felt self-actualized by to some extent. They’re pedaling for survival. Our generation has grown up in continuous financial crises, a lot of unemployment, a lack of opportunity, widening inequality, and pervasive issues of race, gender, and class. We’re taking a lens to some of these gritty realities and espousing an optimistic, frontier-looking gaze into the future.”

Bright Lights Social Hour came to be while Roush and O’Brien were attending graduate school at University of Texas. They released a self-titled debut in 2010, which scored six awards at the SXSW 2011 Austin Music Awards including Best Indie Band. Since then, they’ve toured heavily and were staged at noteworthy festivals such as Hangout, Wakarusa, All Good, and Floyd Fest. This will be their first show in Jackson.

“The dichotomy exists musically,” O’Brien said. “Some songs mirror these harsh truths with guitars and blues energy. Meanwhile, the dreamier electronic-influenced moments are about escaping those dark realities and going to a place symbolized by space.”

Bright Lights Social Hour, 10 p.m., Wednesday at Town Square Tavern. $7. 307Live.com, 733-3886. 

Byron’s Sweetheart Party

A classically trained guitarist and ukuleleist keen at drawing from the greater well of classic American songs, Byron Tomingas has curated a fantastic bill of duos for a Valentine’s Eve concert. Tomingas has arranged the evening into two sets featuring friends and regular performers at the Jackson Hole Hootenanny.

In the first hour, he will perform as a soloist, including a “mystery medley” of love songs and selections from his three new albums—“WY Native Son,” “40 Below,” and “Serenity.” The second half of the show will feature three duos—Val Seaberg and Tom Turiano, Tasha Ghozali and Rob Sidle, and Tomingas paired with Christine Langdon. Special guest percussionists Mack Bray and Ian Gersten will also lend their hands.

“All of the musicians will get together for a couple of ending songs that will bring a smile to your hearts,” Tomingas said.

Byron’s Sweetheart Party, 8 p.m., Saturday at Dornan’s in Moose. $15 at Dornan’s and TLS (The Liquor Store). Dinner served 5 to 7 p.m. 733-2415.

Cornhusker Blues-Funk

Straight from the Cornhusker State, Kris Lager Band will haul a heavy load of vintage swagger of blues, revivalist rock, funk and jam into your ears over two days of afternoon shows at the Trap Bar. The super groovy quartet released a new single last year, “Let Me Do My Thang,” a song based on the true story of getting pulled over and busted for pot in Mendocino County, California, in fall of 2008.

Having toured with BB King, Buddy Guy, and Los Lonely Boys, these fellas know how to bring the heat. But it’s not the heat that keeps Lager from wearing shoes on stage. Lager said people tend to judge others by their shoes, so he doesn’t wear them.

“You know, cowboys and construction workers wear boots, but I go barefoot,” he said. “I think it gives a disarming presence.”

Kris Lager Band, 3 to 6 p.m., Friday and Sunday at The Trap Bar at Grand Targhee Resort. Free. GrandTarghee.com. PJH

PLANET PICKS

WED: Bright Lights Social Hour (Town Square Tavern) THUR: The Infamous Stringdusters with Canyon Kids (Pink Garter Theatre) FRI: Kris Lager Band (Trap Bar), The Infamous Stringdusters with Canyon Kids (Pink Garter Theatre), George Kilby Jr. (Mangy Moose) SAT: Byron Tomingas’ Sweetheart Party (Dornan’s), John Wayne’s World (The Rose), Moonshine Mountain Band (Silver Dollar) SUN: Kris Lager Band (Trap Bar) MON: Jackson Hole Hootenanny (Dornan’s) TUES: One Ton Pig (Silver Dollar), Open Mic Night (Virginian)

Aaron Davis is a songwriting troubadour, multi-instrumentalist, founding member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, and host of Songwriter’s Alley.

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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