Front Bottoms
Front Bottoms

Welcome to Rogue Waves, a monthly compendium of live music picks from your hard-listening pals at the Jersey City Times.  Every thirty days or so, we’ll give you the skinny about a handful of upcoming shows that Jersey City people ought to know about. Though Rogue Waves premieres in the middle of the month of May, you can look for it at the very beginning of all subsequent months. If you’ve got a show that you’d like us to know about, drop a line to trismccall@gmail.com and tell us about it.  We promise we’ll listen.  We might even show up and tell you what we think.

The Front Bottoms @ White Eagle Hall (May 18, 19, & 20)

Technically, the Front Bottoms aren’t from Jersey City. Endearing, conversational singer Brian Sella and imaginative drummer Matt Uychich formed the rock group in northern Bergen County. But during their time headquartered here, they made their presence felt, and, in the process, showed some genuine Jersey City pride. In “Montgomery Forever,” the detonation of a local housing project becomes a metaphor for a relationship in big trouble. Sella’s wry, plainspoken, frequently humorous lyrics and Uychich’s creative rhythms have had a clear influence on modern folk-rock and fourthwave emo alike. And while fanatics will always swear by the all-killer-no-filler Talon Of The Hawk, In Sickness And In Flames, their most recent set, might be the deepest and most searing thing they’ve ever recorded. Just don’t call it mature. I doubt they’d like that very much. (White Eagle Hall, 337 Newark Avenue, 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show; visit whiteeaglehalljc.com.)

The Dead Milkmen @ White Eagle Hall (May 14)

Weird Al is pretty good.  Ditto for the Lonely Island.  But when you want to hear the premiere pop-rock satirists of the last few decades, you turn to Rodney Anonymous and the Dead Milkmen.  Since the release of their scuzz-rock landmark Big Lizard In My Backyard in 1985, they’ve sent up hardcore, classic rock, hair metal (and its accompanying t-shirts), disco, beat poetry, and on the unforgettable “You’ll Dance to Anything,” the entirety of the post-punk movement. Along the way, they’ve gotten in some memorable shots at Hardee’s, hippies, homophobes, Hüsker Dü, Steve Howe, muscle cars and laundromats, jellyfish, drug culture, and pretty much anybody and everybody who takes themselves too seriously.  It doesn’t hurt that they’re a pretty ferocious rock band when they want to be — as vicious, violent, and indispensable as the bands they’re making fun of. (White Eagle Hall, 337 Newark Avenue, $25, 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show; visit whiteeaglehalljc.com.)

Nina Girado & Luke Mejares @ The Margaret Williams Theater (May 14)

If you’re not from the Philippines, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve never heard of Marifil Niña Girardo-Enriquez. If you are from the Philippines, or if you’ve got family there, you’re free to ignore the rest of this paragraph.  You already know.  Nina Girado has been a dominant figure on the Philippine charts ever since the release of Heaven, her multi-platinum second album, in 2002, and she’s had a stranglehold on the Awit Award, the Philippine equivalent of the Grammys. Her expansive range and her pop-soul sound has earned her comparisons to Mariah Carey, and they aren’t unjustified. “Someday,” her theme song, was a smash hit all over Asia. It’s pretty rare to catch a genuine international hitmaker in a modest-sized theater in Jersey City, but this weekend, you’ve got your chance. It ought to be a kasayahan — that’s Tagalog for celebration. (The Margaret Williams Theater @ New Jersey City University, 2039 JFK Boulevard, $45-$105, doors at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m.; visit nosajentertainment.net.)

Pushing Up The Daisies Festival @ Harsimus Cove Cemetery (May 14)

It’s almost as much of a local tradition as The Ghost of Uncle Joe’s. The Pushing Up the Daisies Festival is organized by the same impresario — scene veteran Dancing Tony Susco of the Rock-it Docket — and it’s held in the same place. Both Ghost and Daisies take place at the Historic JC & Harsimus Cemetery, right on the hill that leads from the Downtown to Journal Square. But while Ghost of Uncle Joe’s encourages local bands to masquerade as rock favorites, Pushing Up the Daisies asks groups to give it to you straight. Thus, it’s become the best event on the yearly calendar for those interested in a survey of contemporary Hudson County indie rock styles. Acts this year include Bar/None’s compositionally adventurous singer-songwriter Little Hag (on at 6 p.m.), the spectral blues-rockers Tula Vera (closing the night at 9:20), and Sir Synthesis, a heady psychedelic rock act that incorporates Latin rhythms into their sound (on at 8 p.m.) (Historic Jersey City & Harsimus Cemetery, 435 Newark Avenue, $30 for a festival pass, #15 for teens under 18, seniors, and veterans, $5 for children, free for kids under 5, gates open at 1 p.m., music starts at 2:40; visit rockitdocket.com.) 

Sujeto Oro 24K @ The Factory (May 13)

Thank goodness for The Factory. It’s the most reliable place in town to catch musicians who play in styles that are widely loved, but that are traditionally underrepresented on Jersey City stages: merengue, bachata, reggaeton, regional Mexican pop, and other genres of Latin music. Sujeto Oro 24K ought to fit in just fine. The Dominican vocalist brings his raw, scalding amalgam of mambo, merengue, urbano and Caribbean hip-hop to The Factory this weekend. He’s probably still best known for the horn-spiked and frankly irresistible party-starter “Con Cotorra No,” but he’s made plenty of other rowdy records. He’ll have plenty of support from sympathetic record spinners: DJ Ju Crazy, Deejay G, DJ Traviezo. The show follows the early May appearance of merengue cornerstone Sergio Vargas; this bar and restaurant in Bergen-Lafayette continues to attract top-flight talent. (The Factory, 451 Communipaw Ave.; call 646-804-3236 or visit facebook.com/factory451.)

New Music Explorer Weekend @ Outlander Gallery (May 20, 21, 22)

Outlander Gallery may be relocating to Journal Square soon, but before they ditch their current digs for good, they’re throwing one last party. The New Music Explorer Weekend gathers sixteen experimental artists from deep in the musical underground, and, over a three-day stretch, unleashes them on Jersey City. Some of the performers are regional heroes, like NJPAC jazz favorite Jarret Walser, Jersey City ambient composer Drew Sheldon, who performs as Moon Watcher, and improvisational guitarist Jim Joustra. Others are so obscure that they barely have an Internet presence. But the August Agency and Outlander have been consistent champions of the unpopular but aesthetically worthy. They’ve regularly given wallspace to artists with big talents, but who lack necessarily big names. There’s no reason not to trust their musical judgment. Besides, it’s an opportunity to hang out on Monticello, which, no matter what anybody says, is still the coolest street in town. (Outlander Gallery, 126 Monticello Avenue, $11.11 for a day pass, $20.22 for a weekend pass, all day; visit theaugustagency.biz.) 

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Tris McCall

Tris McCall has written about art, architecture, performance, politics, and public culture for many publications, including the Newark Star-Ledger, the Bergen Record, Jersey Beat, the Jersey City Reporter,...