Weekend Ideas: March 24, 2017

At the Drive-In, Minus the Bear, Foxygen and more.


It’s a weekend for distinctive vocalists. Chicago R&B/gospel singer Mavis Staples continues her reign as an American treasure, her husky voice radiating joy on the road at age 77, making her Friday show at the Cabot in Beverly a sure treat. And the powerhouse local Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra will unleash a range of singers in performing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Chris Superstar, at Arlington’s Regent Theatre, both this Friday and Saturday and next, while trumpeter Chris Botti—whose band offers smart vocal cameos—plays Lexington’s Cary Hall on Friday.

Cedric Bixler-Zavala, frontman for post-hardcore band At the Drive-In (pictured), literally throws himself into his work—to the point that health concerns over his vocal cords forced cancellation of a scheduled House of Blues show last summer. But the artful, abrasive Texas punk band hits the same club on Saturday to make up for it behind its May comeback album in*tera*li*a, whose advance tracks prove more than promising, particularly the surprisingly catchy “Incurably Innocent.” Watch for the singer to forge a physically magnetic dynamic with guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, also his former foil in proggy enterprise the Mars Volta.
Sam France of Californian indie-rockers Foxygen also carries a reputation as a quirky singer and performer (he once climbed the scaffolding at North Adams’ Solid Sound Festival), and the oft-enticing group’s bolstered itself with a horn section on tour as Foxygen rolls into the Paradise on Saturday as well. Brazilian pianist/singer Elaine Elias also plays the Berklee Performance Center that night.

But when you’re talking vocal performance, it’s impossible to top the dynamic, chameleonic Lisa Fischer, who’s backed everyone from the Rolling Stones to Nine Inch Nails, and explores the personality of her instrument with her band Grand Baton, returning to the Wilbur Theatre on Sunday. Meanwhile, the same night down the street, Northwest indie-rockers Minus the Bear echo electronic and math-rock elements as they make their own return behind new album Volts.

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