Reno Music Beat: Vague Choir stages ‘Big Fight’ at The Saint
To get a grasp of how energetic and diverse Reno’s music scene is — local artists performing and recording in town, touring artists coming to town, local veterans gigging out of town — I offer a potpourri of tidbits.
Let's start with this:
VAGUE CHOIR’S SOPHOMORE CD
Rock singer-songwriter-guitarist Mark Earnest — a stalwart presence in Reno rock circles — has played in seven bands since moving here in 1997. “My best-known stuff was in The Vitriolics, Dirt Communion and Mister Vague,” Earnest says. “I’m still in The Sisters Doom.”
He also fronts a power trio, Vague Choir, with bassist Marcus Mayhall (who’s also in metal band Weight of the Tide) and drummer Jason Thomas (in Weight of the Tide and metal band Cranialgalactic Orchestra). The cross-pollination of area aggregations is further exemplified in that Vague Choir’s new album, “The Big Fight” — recorded at Sparks’ Dogwater Studios — has blazing guitarist Michelle Belle (of The Grimtones), contributing keyboards (another of her talents) to three tracks.
Vague Choir is releasing its second album on a bill starting 9 p.m. Oct. 14 at The Saint, 421 S. Virginia St. Admission is $5 for the 21+ show. The Grimtones (a hard-rocking guitar-drums duo) and Stabby Unicorn (a New Wavy guitar-keys-drums trio) fill the under bill.
Earnest and bandmates have played together 11 years. Earnest’s voice and strumming guitar are versatile in tone, sometimes harsh, sometimes resonant. The band’s current sound? “At the moment we’re right in between prog-rock and post-punk,” Earnest says. “My friend Allen Hunter, a musician from Portland, Oregon, said we were a cross between the Pixies and Rush.”
My favorite of the 10 tracks: “The Right to Know,” a galloping rocker skewering the self-entitled souls sharing their dramas with the world (and who have multiplied in the Facebook/Twitter age): “Girlfriend stalking, boyfriend sulking/Everyone's listening, just keep talking.”
Earnest says the new album is “considerably louder and meaner” than its predecessor, due to “a lack of sensitivity as we age, perhaps.” His assessment of the Reno “scene”?
“There is more than one scene, so it’s hard to say. I do like the diversity of venues right now. We’ve sometimes felt on the outside looking in if a place was too folky or too metal, and now it’s all blending at most places, including with non-rock styles, so that’s very encouraging. As long as everyone who books is supportive of diverse styles, the music community will be in good shape.”
Follow Vague Choir at www.vaguechoir.bandcamp.com.
SIRENS SOAR AT SAINT
The aerialist/burlesque troupe The Siren Society brings its sassy act back to The Saint 9 p.m. Oct. 20, featuring music from soulful singer Ashley Kepler. The theme is Halloween and the Sirens promise to serve “a little bit of creepy . . . and little bit of sexy.” Costumes encouraged. Cover: $5. 21+.
Reno-based lyrical-rock quartet The Novelists are virtuoso musicians who employ four-part harmonies, produce pristine recordings and enjoy a solid fan base. Online voting landed the band a plum gig: joining an impressive slate on Train’s “Sail Across the Sun” cruise from Tampa, Florida, to Costa Maya, Mexico, in February. Other acts on the four-day voyage for travelers who can afford the steep fare are Matt Nathanson, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Arrested Development. Follow The Novelists at www.thenovelists.com.
STRAIGHT SHOT AT GSR
The Grand Sierra Resort continually brings in name entertainers pleasing Millennials, Gen X’ers or Baby Boomers at Lex Nightclub or the Grand Theatre. The Grand Theatre will feature a truly harmonious concert 9 p.m. Oct. 14 when the dapper dozen singers in male a cappella Straight No Chaser take the world’s largest indoor stage. Big since 2007 after going viral with a video of “Twelve Days of Christmas,” the group is touring in support of its fifth studio album, “The New Old Fashioned,” and dropping its third Christmas album. Tickets ($30 to $70) can be had at www.ticketmaster.com or call 789-1115.
INTOXICATING PERSIAN PLAYER
Lily Afshar — born in Iran, schooled in the West, reportedly the first woman to earn a doctorate in classical guitar — brings her engrossing solo playing of ballads from the Middle East, Europe and Latin America to the auditorium in UNR’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, 6 p.m. Oct. 14. Tickets: $20 at the door (or www.cgwest.org).
Email story tips to Mike Sion at firstname.lastname@example.org.