The Mantras, with Empire Strikes Brass and Scrumptious
Where: The Firmament, 5 Market Point Drive, Greenville
When: Friday, Nov. 1 @ 7 p.m.
Onstage, the Greensboro, North Carolina band known as The Mantras are the perfect example of a jam-band. Whether they’re playing intense rock tunes like “Is That What You Want?” dreamy soundscape-style pieces like “Miguel’s Travels” or reggae-inflected grooves like “Pain Drain,” the band’s members can stretch out with ease, taking their music into uncharted territory at will. On their studio albums, however, The Mantras are typically far more concise. In fact, on their most recent release, 2018’s Be The Light, only two of the 10 songs go past the five- or six-minute mark, and Mantras singer/guitarist Keith Allen says that’s an intentional decision on the band’s part.
“Our shows are pretty heavily improvised,” he says, “but when we go into the studio, we really try to make studio records. For a long time, we kind of tried to capture our live sound in the studio, but eventually we decided that the best way to do that was simply to release live recordings. After that, we tried to approach the studio as a tool to do things that we couldn’t necessarily do on stage, and vice versa. It’s a very different experience, but it’s something I enjoy just as much.”
Where: The Spinning Jenny, 107 Cannon St., Greer
When: Friday, Nov. 1 @ 8 p.m.
Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door
Of Montreal is such a patently eccentric, artistically adventurous group that calling them “unpredictable” is almost too easy. But the fact is that the band, led by visionary singer/songwriter Kevin Barnes, does seem to revel in being hard to nail down. Its basic style is psychedelia-infused indie-pop, but the band dunked its sound in electronic dance music on 2016’s “Innocence Reaches,” though Of Montreal’s members made sure to add some unruly guitars and dreamlike keyboards as well.
The band’s next release, the 2017 EP “Rune Husk” sounded like it could’ve been recorded in 1968, bringing back the Day-Glo psychedelia and largely jettisoning the electronic elements, creating a four-song throwback that could’ve come out in between “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” without anything seeming out of place. Then, with 2018’s “White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood,” band members fully immersed themselves in electronic dance music again, except this time it’s a throwback to ’80s-era extended club mixes; the album plays like one long, delirious night under the lights at a club circa 1986. So where they’ll go next is anyone’s guess, which seems to be exactly how Of Montreal wants it.
Sirsy, with Darby Wilcox
Where: Gottrocks, 200 Eisenhower Drive, Greenville
When: Saturday, Nov. 2 @ 9 p.m.
Rather than putting itself across with pure volume like other guitar-and-drums duos, the New York two-piece known as Sirsy has spent the last decade finding ways around that formula, crafting a more intricate kind of music centered as much around singer/drummer Melanie Krahmer’s vocal harmonies as a Rich Libutti’s guitar riffs. Of course, it’s easier to branch out from the basic formula when both members have setups that allow them to play bass and keyboards onstage, sometimes with one of Krahmer’s drumsticks. And on its new EP, “Like A Drum,” the band certainly doesn’t sound like a group that needs any additional help.
Krahmer’s vocals soar over Libutti’s molten riffs with confidence and swagger, and the sound is so full that it’s difficult to imagine there being room for anyone else at this particular party. The band even throws a bouncy, melodic pure-pop tune (“Sweet Dreams”) into the generally rock-oriented mix without missing a beat, once again showing more versatility than most guitar-drums groups.