Joe Pug and Metalachi
Let’s get weird
What: Joe Pug, Field Report
When: 8pm Wed, March 25
When: 9:30pm Thurs., March 26
Where: The Green Frog, 1015 N. State St.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Most of the time, when you set foot inside the welcoming confines of the Green Frog, you know what you’re going to get: strong drinks, grilled cheese sandwiches of obscene size and someone onstage that probably has more than a passing relationship with a little twang.
But owing to the fact that the Green Frog plays host to more shows per week, hands down, than any other venue in town, and that owner James Hardesty is a bit of a musical explorer willing to take a flyer on whatever comes his way that strikes his fancy, you just never know who might appear on the venue’s stage.
What I’m trying to say is, sometimes shit gets weird at the Green Frog.
An excellent example of Hardesty’s wide-ranging interests and “sure, why not?” attitude can be found at back-to-back shows that will take place next week at the Green Frog.
The first, which happens Wed., March 25, features Joe Pug, who is certainly no stranger to the venue, having roped it into his tour routing for nearly the Green Frog’s entire existence.
When we last heard from Pug, it was 2013 and he came to town as part of a tour that looked for a time like it would be his undoing. Although still young (Pug turned 30 not long ago), he’d been on the road almost constantly for years, touring in support of his critically acclaimed albums, 2010’s Messenger and 2012’s Great Despiser. The grind of the road put strain on his relationships, disillusioning him and costing him precious sanity. And so he did the thing that no musician on their way up ever does: He cancelled the end of his tour, packed it in and went home to figure out his future.
Feeling creatively and emotionally burnt out, his was a hiatus without an end date. However, a change of geography—he recently relocated to Chicago—and some hard reflection led him to the conclusion that if he really wanted to, he could walk away from it all, never write another song, never play another show again. Some musicians might find such a realization terrifying. To Pug, it was freeing.
“There are these musicians out there who say they’d never do anything else in their lives,” he told American Songwriter. “It doesn’t matter if they’re poor. They’re on the road 11 months out of the year. I’m not that way. I don’t feel like I would sacrifice everything for music. Life is bigger than that.”
And so, rejuvenated and with a clear head on his shoulders and his feet back under him once again, Pug discovered he wasn’t done, still had something to say, still wanted to be part of the tradition of narrative songwriting that is his stock in trade. The results of all that rumination, realization and reinvigoration can be found on his latest album, Windfall, released a little more than a week ago.
Pug’s strength as a songwriter has always been his ability to create relatable characters and tell a strong story. While his songwriting has always displayed skill and wisdom beyond his years, Windfall is his most mature work to date, with characters (some of which seem closely modeled on Pug and his time of crisis and renewal) that are finely drawn and rendered with both skill and compassion. Although the people about which he sings face their measure of trials and tribulations, the album is ultimately and optimistic one, and in their redemption, you can hear some of Pug’s own.
As always, a show featuring Pug tends to draw a crowd at the Green Frog, so show up early, order a grilled cheese and hang out for the music. If you’re not already a fan of the songwriter, you will be by the time you leave.
But it’s not all sensitive alt.country types at the Green Frog. And that is evidenced by the show happening the next night, Thurs., March 26, at the bar.
I’m not one to quote wholesale from a band’s official biography, but, then again, most band bios are way more boring than Metalachi’s.
To wit: “On a hot summer night in Veracruz, Mexico circa 1982, Consuela Espinoza stumbled out of her dilapidated shanty and into rock ’n’ roll history. What began as an innocent night of snorting horse tranquilizers in a hotel room with seven members of the village jai alai team went on to produce the greatest metal band to ever live. Unhampered by a steady regime of tequila and ill-advised sumo lessons, nine months later, five bastard children were born.”
If you haven’t already guessed, Metalachi exists at the nexus of where heavy metal and mariachi music meet (if such a nexus exists) and either fall in love or fight to the death. If you’ve ever wanted to see a mariachi band cover Dio, Guns N’ Roses, and more—or wanted to see the same band mash up Whitesnake with Selena (you’ve never wanted to see that. But you might now)—Metalachi is here to make all your bizarre dreams come true.
Sure, a band such as this can seem a little gimmicky, but mariachi music is not easy to play, and adapting heavy metal to mariachi seems like a lot of work for a little gimmick. In short, Metalachi might be strange, but they shred—and they know how to put on a good show.
All of this is to prove the point that anything goes at the Green Frog. So, show up for the Pug and stay for the Metalachi.
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