The Short List: FRB Staff Concert Picks of the Week (August 20 – 26)

Each week, Front Row Boston’s staff gives you our Short List: the bands and musicians in and around town we think you should hear.

Sunday, 8/20 — Chris Isaak at the Wilbur

Look, lets be honest – we all have a weak spot for Chris Isaak. His mix of dreamy cowboy howl and deep, blues-inflected lyrics has always transported the listener to a different plain of existence – one that bears an uncanny resemblance to Twin Peaks. Mr. Lucky, his thirteenth album delivers that same ethereal quality. But don’t take just our word for it – The Independent says ” Chris Isaak retains the engaging warmth of a post-modern country crooner… his expertly-modulated gradations of emotion peaking in an occasional falsetto yodel that marks him as the closest modern heir to Roy Orbison.” Be still our hearts!

Monday, 8/21 — Greta Van Fleet at Great Scott

We can all agree that it’s been too long since we’ve heard some gritty rock and roll.  You know what I’m talking about; the kind that captures that rebellious spirit of the late 60s/early 70s. We never would have guessed it would be four young guys from rural Michigan — the eldest (just barely) turning 21  — who would be the ones to bring it back, but here we are. “I have a thing for older roots blues like Elmore James, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters,” GVF singer Josh Kiszka tells “In terms of rock influences, the Who, the Doors and Cream, and for Josh, Sam and Danny, Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin.” This all literally sounds about right. Greta Van Fleet’s EP Black Smoke Rising feels like a a music revolution wrapped up in four songs.  Call ahead of time to find out if this one is still sold out.

Wednesday, 8/23 — Elijah Ocean at Atwood’s Tavern

Elijah Ocean has been hustling. The New England singer-songwriter moved to Los Angeles a few years ago, and has perfected his Laurel Canyon sound along the while. And with three full-length LPs under his belt, he’s really starting to hit his stride. His sound is evolving with a new self-titled fourth album that says is steeped in a post-Summer-of-Love sound. “They’re the kind of hazy-sunset songs that, even if you were born and raised and are currently sitting in an office in California, will make you want to go to California and never come back.” Sounds like a nice night away from all the crazy that’s been happening these days. We’ll see you there.

Saturday, 8/26 — Etana at Brighton Music Hall

Etana will be heating it up Saturday night at our home venue of Brighton Music Hall during her first solo tour – and we Can. Not. Wait. To get our dance on. The reggae queen has since made a splash in her homeland of Jamaica as well as the UK, with her pure voice and liberating lyrics. Fighting the homophobia of earlier generations of musicians, she calls for a more accepting way of life amongst the reggae and Jamaican communities. NPR calls her “[a] soul singer with a voice that’s rich, robust and saturated in the right kind of buoyancy — sage but never preachy.” JSN opens.


The Devil’s Twins at The Sinclair

Who are these guys? “Local H covering a Social D song sung by Johnny Cash and Amy Winehouse set to a black and white film,” that’s who. The Devil’s Twins whiskey-soaked sound will really get your leg twitching and we are totally into it. “I feel like we’re melding into a new era where we’re less afraid to use more auxiliary sounds,” lead Nikki Coogan tells Limelight magazine. “I’m really into our lyrics being very wordy and almost tripping over themselves. I love making music that has a real narrative storyline to make people think.” Nikki, along with members Jeremiah Louf and Matt Young, were last years BMA Indie/Rock Artists of the Year winners, and one of the 10 bands chosen for the 2017 617 sessions. We’ll be following their journey the rest of the year. This weekend’s show is an official album release; American Noir Vol. 1., and local favorites Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, and Julie Rhodes will join.