Sight Unsound: Genre-hopping with Built to Spill, Kid Rock

Friday, March 14
Built to Spill is a band straddling genres. Too folky and drenched in Americana to be indie rock, and too obsessed with guitar solos to be alt-anything, the Boise, Idaho, quintet has dazzled audiences across the country with their guitar-centric, tastefully tuneful brand of rock for the last 16 years.

The band, the brainchild of lead singer/guitarist Doug Martsch, produces a sound not unlike fellow indie rock icons Dinosaur Jr.: a wall of guitars covering up thoughtful lyrics and a pounding rhythm section.

While Dinosaur Jr. brings distorted guitars to the forefront, Built to Spill’s sound is based around Martsch’s clean and chiming guitar work. But the ringing and churning of chords is only half of the story.

Martsch and crew write songs that are more than guitar showcases; they move between the friendly confines of jam-band upbeat shuffles and the dark snootiness of indie rock dirges.

Joining Built to Spill is the recently reformed Meat Puppets, a band that, like Built to Spill, road the wave of the ’90s alternative rock boom and came out a smarter, if not more weary band.

Casual listeners may remember their almost-hit “Backwater” or their appearance on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged episode, where three of their songs were covered by Kurt Cobain and Co.

Much like Built to Spill, they’ve successfully combined folk- and Americana-influenced songs with layer upon layer of intricately played guitar work.

Both bands are joined by Helvetia; the show’s at Headliners Music Hall (1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088). Tickets are $15. Visit for more details.

Saturday, March 15

Say the name Kid Rock to any holier-than-thou music snob and expect to be greeted with a quick rolling of the eyes and a reminder that his multi-platinum status doesn’t buy credibility. From die-hard fans, expect heaps of praise.

Kid Rock is too rock ’n’ roll to be considered rap, and too country to be considered rock. His “is” and “isn’ts” could fill an entire column. What he can be considered is one of the last real rock stars. Marathon concerts feature costume changes, shout-outs and callbacks to rock ’n’ roll’s past, and ballads sung to an audience with lighters up high. He’s a throwback to a better time, when rock stars truly were larger than life.

So when Kid Rock and his traveling circus rolls into Freedom Hall (937 Phillips Lane, 367-5001) on Saturday, expect songs from every corner of his career, as well as collaborations with artists who paved the way for rock’s distinctive mix of B-Boy posturing and good ol’ boy boogie.

The bill also includes former Allman Brothers guitarist Dickie Betts and Reverend Run of hip-hop grandmasters Run DMC.

Tickets range from $25-$45, and are available on and at all Ticketmaster outlets.

Saturday, March 15
The Luchagores may not be the genre hoppers that Kid Rock, Built to Spill or The Meat Puppets are, but they play the kind of high-energy, good-old-fashioned fun punk rock that makes even the most hardened of music writers sit up and take notice.

But what the band is most widely known for is its lead singer, Amy Dumas, better known to most people as the Lita, one of the ass-kicking, eye-candy arm pieces known as WWE Divas. Dumas traded in power bombs for power chords last year, and upon her retirement from professional wrestling, revisited her first love, punk rock.
While the band’s sound may be just typical punk, the spirit and spunk they attack it with are a breath of fresh air.

In a world filled with Hot Topic-wearing insta-punks singing lyrics about the real life feelings and problems of your average 14-year-old, The Luchagores play punk rock the way it is supposed to be: light, loose and fun. Catch them at Uncle Pleasant’s (2126 S. Preston St., 634-4147) Saturday night.

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