He's a whole lot country, and he — the other he — is a whole lot of everything else.
They aren't exactly Donnie and Marie material, but together Brent Amaker, of Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, and Dave Einmo, the mastermind behind Head Like A Kite, make a pairing so perfect it seems wrong that Friday (Oct. 22) marks the first time they will share a bill. Both are consummate performers who let their music speak for itself but in a live setting pack an extra powerful punch with plenty of visual flair, showmanship, and typically unforgettable performances.
Amaker and his band dress as cowboys, wearing all black, and play Western music with tried and true themes of lost loves, tears in beers, and barroom brawls, all with an extra bit of attitude. A typical Rodeo show involves Amaker taking the stage in a cape, fans doing the two-step and, at venues that selectively enforce the law prohibiting performers from having alcohol on stage, Amaker pours shots of whiskey down the throats of fans during what the band calls a "whiskey baptism."
Einmo's music couldn't be more different from Amaker's Western country.
Head Like A Kite fuses bits of rock, hip-hop, funk ,and electronic music to create infectious dance songs as fun to hear bumping at clubs as they are to bump on your home stereo. A typical HLAK show involves Einmo taking the stage wearing a pink boa, a dancer in a panda bear costume, and Einmo throwing mannequin heads into the crowd.
"We just both really enjoy putting on shows," Einmo said about the pairing of Amaker and HLAK. "We want people to have fun and enjoy themselves, which is part of being a performer. I think our penchant for doing big things on stage compliment each other."
Head Like A Kite's latest, Dreams Suspend Night, is one of the best local records of the year. The band recently signed to Roll Call Records out of Philadelphia and the album will be re-released Nov. 9 with an additional track.
"Head like A Kite started out as just me being a DJ and producer playing a bunch of loops and including various friends. I'd cut them up and making songs out of them and I've really tried to keep it that way," said Einmo.
The friends he worked with include several notable locals such as Asya Smoosh from the sister duo Smoosh and former Saturday Knights MC Tilson. The new Dreams Suspend Night track features both and despite the differences between Tilson's rhymes and Asya's beautiful pipes, the song works, just like the pairing of Amaker and Einmo. Tilson has frequently appeared with HLAK at past shows so don't be surprised to see him pop up on stage Friday. Also adding to the spectacle will be the burlesque troupe the Atomic Bombshelles and RA Scion of Victor Shade and Common Market fame.
"It's really going to be great to have a show with Brent," Einmo said. "And having burlesque dancers on stage is really exciting for me. I've never done that before and it should be pretty fun. You can definitely expect to be surprised."
Amaker will be celebrating the release of his latest album, Please Stand By, at Friday's show, which is also a part of the inaugural City Arts Fest. The record follows the same pattern established by the band's previous two records. Amaker broke it down in simple terms.
"We've got a formula and it's not too hard to figure out what the Rodeo is doing," Amaker said. "We're cowboys and we play country and Western music with a nod to the 1950s and '60s and a heavy emphasis on the Western."
While Amaker and Einmo are musical opposites and will share a bill for the first time tomorrow, they've crossed paths multiple times in the past. Amaker is a character in HLAK's video for "Always on the Wrong Side of Sunrise." The working relationship and friendship between the two helped spark tomorrow's show.
"Dave and I have talked about doing a show together for a while," said Amaker. "To be able to finally do it and have it be our CD release show is really cool. Fans of the Rodeo already know what they're getting into, but having Head Like a Kite there is going to make it even more of a spectacle."
If you go: Head Like A Kite with Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, the Atomic Bombshells and RA Scion perform Friday at the Crocodile. Tickets cost $12. Doors at 8 p.m.