Soundchecks: Shimmy Ghøster, Monsters from Outer Space, Transonic Czars, John Papa Gros, Gods

Live music to catch this week

JAZZ | Shimmy Ghøster
Wed. Aug. 21
10 p.m.
$8/adv., $10/dos
Pour House

At the core of nearly every impactful musical act, there is an essence, a formula for artistic achievement. Concerning Charleston trio Shimmy Ghøster, the formula for this group of veteran musicians is to push away from formula itself. For Ron Wiltrout, Gerald Gregory, and Mike Quinn, the concept is plainly stated. “This band is 100 percent improvised and we are 100 percent committed to that,” explains Wiltrout. A similar situation might be uncomfortable for many musicians. Rehearsal, structure, and memorization play a huge role in the confidence behind a performance. Shimmy Ghøster rely solely on their abilities to listen and communicate musically, and they’re willing to embrace all that comes with it. “It can be a very inspirational situation and simultaneously, very challenging,” says Wiltrout. The trio came together and was conceptualized through the encouragement in a blooming acceptance of jazz-oriented musical freedom from some of the venues in the city. “Because of some of the cool spots in town that support this stuff, you have the chance to explore sounds and rhythms that you wouldn’t normally, in front of an audience, on a weekly basis,” says Gregory. “I think it appeals to people because they feel like this is a unique moment that they’re privy to and it’s genuine. We’re pushing against what we know we can do, so that we can find things that we didn’t know we could do, and I think the audience connects to that reality.” Artistically, there is something refreshing in challenging audiences, defying convention and consistently offering something new. Wiltrout exclaims, “The element of surprise and delight at surprise is a beautiful thing.” —Jeffrey Wilson WEDNESDAY

Horror Punk | Monsters from Outer Space
w/ Freakshow Sinema, Guardian’s Warlock
Fri. Aug. 23
9 p.m
The Sparrow

Charleston’s Monsters from Outer Space aren’t complicated musical creatures. They are old-school, heavy-leaning punk rockers who worship at an altar somewhere between Motörhead and the Stooges. It’s elemental music, produced amid a din of feedback with shout-along vocal salvation, in the familiar, communal mold of many a punk band famous or otherwise. For the Monsters, it’s really everything going on outside the musical genre conventions that is fascinating. Inspired by their love of kitschy horror movie cult classics and a bent toward zany Halloweenisms, their iconography, costuming, and live shows make the most of their deliriously joyous horror-themed rock tonnage. Bassist and founder Dr. Eerie Von Frankfurter cites Universal Monsters and the 1959 classic Plan 9 from Outer Space as the chief inspirations for their specific stylistic innovations. “We put 110 percent into every show, whether we’re playing for five people or 500,” says Frankfurter. He also notes that the horror-themed props and costumes, combined with the band’s commitment to rock ‘n’ roll fundamentals, makes for quite the good time, something which the tight-knit Charleston punk community will largely attest to. There’s something undeniably joyous about a themed, highly-costumed rock outfit making music bursting out from a din of feedback with shout-along vocal glory. Cultish or not, this kind of life-affirming music with a time-honored tradition is clearly given new life when folks like the Monsters bring true passion to the proceedings. —Kyle Petersen FRIDAY

ALTERNATIVE ROCK | Transonic Czars
Fri. Aug 23
9 p.m.
Tin Roof

Forming in 2005, the Transonic Czars wrote a few songs, jammed, and peaced out without having played a single show. Breaking up in 2006, they took a long “ice age” period and rose once again in 2018. This six piece alternative rock outfit takes influence from the likes of Led Zeppelin, the Afghan Whigs, and many more. Much of their music is political in nature or critiques society, though the band aligns with no political party and upholds the value in ideas. Describing themselves as a phoenix, the band states “[we’re] out here celebrating music, life, friendship, and all that they have become over the past 14 years. No grandeur, just right now. It’s the journey, folks.” With a wealth of new material in tow, these Czars are looking to shake things up at their live shows. —Henry Clark FRIDAY

NOLA FUNK | John Papa Gros
w/ Battery Brass Band
Fri. Aug. 23
9 p.m.
$12/adv, $15/dos
Pour House

According to keyboardist, singer, and songwriter John Papa Gros, arriving in this world to the Big Easy left him little choice in terms of vocation. “You can’t escape it here. Birthday parties. Funerals. Family gatherings. Mardi Gras. You name it, there’s always music circling around whatever we’re doing in New Orleans.” It helped seal his fate early on when Gros found friendship and encouragement in legendary NOLA characters like Allen Toussaint, Art “Poppa Funk” Neville, and Dr. John. These days, Gros’ work is primarily concerned with preserving the rich heritage he inherited from such figures. “I try to take the social and cultural legacy of our local tradition on the road with me, every place I go. To demonstrate through songcraft: this is who we are, this is what we do, this is why we do it.” Still, Gros can’t say precisely what “it” is. “What I call New Orleans music is really an amalgamation,” Gros says. “Our music is like a pot of gumbo, where all of these different ingredients are thrown into the mix, and what comes out is totally unique each time.” This week’s performance at the Pour House, he assures us, will feature plenty of the Big Easy funk, syncopated second line rhythms, and early rock ‘n’ roll that you would expect. And with Gros stirring that big ol’ pot, you’d better believe that anything is possible. —Kevin Wilson FRIDAY

w/ Honna, High Counsel, Black Nicholson
Sat. Aug. 24
8 p.m.
$7 (over 21), $10 (under)
Tin Roof

The Charleston trio Gods plays instrumental rock with hints of prog and jazz, particularly in their shifting time signatures. What’s interesting is that two of the band members, guitarist Chris Perot and drummer Deslin Price, have experience as vocalists in their previous bands. So, the choice to be an all-instrumental group wasn’t out of necessity. “It started off with Chris and I as roommates, jamming together just for fun, without vocals,” Price says. “So we just vibed with that. We know how to write lyrics and sing songs, but we really got into playing our instruments for this band and having no vocal material. We wanted to let the music speak for itself because it speaks to us. Each song has a certain mood, and we hope we can get that across. Everyone can take the song for themselves, and let the music speak to them.” Price adds that Gods, which also includes bassist Philip Ward, is happy as a trio, both because it leaves the players plenty of space and because there are fewer people to argue with when writing songs. “Having played in bands with more than three pieces, I’ve learned that fewer heads are better to work with,” Price says with a laugh. “People have creative differences in bands, and most of the time, there’s somebody who’s not happy. But in a three-piece, we can sit down and work it out. Plus, I’ve known these guys forever, so it makes it really easy to write with them. We’re very honest with one another.” —Vincent Harris SATURDAY

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