For New Orleans rockists, it's R.E.M. or REM



I like to envision New Orleans rock venues as a somnambulant clan of Rip Van Winkles: lifting their heavy lids every so often, stretching their limbs, booking a series of teasing tours and summarily nodding off for another 100-year (or 10-month) slumber.

Consider the Parish, House of Blues’ underachieving kid brother, which had been next to comatose for much of 2009 before bolting upright this week with a startling outburst — Le Tigre offshoot Men last night, Black Keys’ prodigy Jessica Lea Mayfield tonight and Diet Eminem rapper Cage on Sunday — only to fall over again like a deadwood redwood. (Next thing of incident at the Parish: a Sept. 6 visit by the Eminemless D12, distant second in the Dirty Dozen band hierarchy.) Or the Howlin' Wolf, which hosted packed houses for late-2008 concerts by Fleet Foxes and Of Montreal and has been sleepwalking through banal funk and bloviated punk ever since. Republic's semiannual awakenings can be timed on a clock, but its flurry of mid-2008 activity, including the Black Angels, the Whigs, Okkervil River and the Walkmen, has yet to be seen in 2009; its fall schedule is TBA and the “What You Missed” section begins and ends with Juvenile in February and Ghostland Observatory in April. (Quoth Office Space: “I wouldn’t say I’ve been missing it, Bob.”)

The sleeping-giant theme continues at Tipitina’s, which hasn’t so much been inactive as it’s been having the same dream every night for years. (It’s fuzzy, Doc, but it has something to do with Jazz Fest circa 1991 …) Once or twice per calendar the storied club interrupts its regularly scheduled programming for something Quint Davis has never heard of: Death Cab for Cutie in 2004, Yo La Tengo in ’07, Wilco in ’02 and ’08 (OK, even Quint knows Wilco now) and Girl Talk in ’09. And yet, recent news of Tip's booking Phoenix (author of the odds-on single-of-the-year "1901," video above), Andrew Bird and St. Vincent for two shows the first week of October still hit like a night terror.

Glossy French cosmopolitan pop, UFO-whistled chamber folk and avant-garde guitar-shredded falsettos, all in the span of 72 hours? Somebody pinch me.

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