Canadian duo Jean Smith and David Lester have been shaking things up as Mecca Normal since before the riot grrrl movement photocopied its first zine. Though not as brash as some of their peers in that DIY music community, the group combined personal politics, the vibrating grind of Smith's throaty vocals, and the incredible prowess of Lester's guitar playing to develop a deeply intimate yet hard-hitting sound that ultimately made them one of the more memorable bands of the time.
Throughout the '90s, the band released albums at a prolific pace on K Records, Matador, and Sub Pop, but their output slowed considerably in the '00s. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the band's inception, and Mecca Normal are saddling up, taking a break from their individual artistic endeavors, and hitting the road, playing the Vera Project on Saturday, April 4. Their more recent songs are mellower than their early work, with Lester's guitar toned way down for Smith's voice, which is at times reminiscent of folk-great Buffy Saint-Marie.
Following roughly in Mecca Normal's footsteps—but bringing considerably more abrasive sounds—are the show's openers, two bands from a new generation of challenging, noisemaking punks: spazzy L.A. freaks the Mae Shi and psychotically inspired wailer PRE. It should be a night of startling and rewarding contrasts. CASEY CATHERWOOD
Thurs April 2: Mirah, Lovers at Vera Project, 7:30 pm, $15 ($14 w/club card).
Thurs April 2: Tender Forever, Your Heart Breaks, Head Bangs at the Den, 7:30 pm, $5.
Thurs April 2: Thrones, Geronimo, the Human Quena Orchestra, Lozen at the Greenhouse, 8 pm, $5.
Sat April 4: The Mae Shi, PRE, Past Lives, Mecca Normal, Medieval Women at Vera Project, 7:30 pm, $8.
Sat April 4: SOL, Dearboy, Razpy & the Vigilantes at KTUB, 8 pm, $6.