Eugene Weekly : Music : 2.5.09

Romance, Intrigue, Betrayal

Kidnapped brothers, rivals for the affections of a beautiful woman, poignant and terrible revenge. If you like that kind of thing — and, really, who doesn’t? — you’re in for a treat with the Eugene Opera’s semi-staged one-night-only version of Il Trovatore, Giuseppe Verdi’s famously beautiful, famously heartrending tale of human flaws. Kelly Cae Hogan, last year’s import from the Metropolitan Opera as Madama Butterfly, plays love interest Leonora, and baritone Michael Mayes is the greedy count who does everyone wrong. Opera company director Mark Beudert plays the title role in this most tragically romantic of tales. 

The show runs one night only and doesn’t include costumes, but the press release says that “full and atmospheric lighting effects” will help out. That leaves the singing and the intense storyline, which carry many a show. The cast and Eugene Opera chorus will attempt to transport you to a time of huge love and bloody revenge, and you know you want to go along for the ride. Il Trovatore hits the Hult Center at 7:30 pm Saturday, Feb. 7. $20-$55. — Suzi Steffen

A is for Assorted Melodies

Sometimes, the instrumental parts of H is for Hellgate’s songs get almost dizzying. In the nine tracks of their 2008 release, Come for the Peaks, Stay for the Valleys, the Seattle-based trio (formerly a quartet) skips through the edges of a handful of rock genres, getting a little proggy here, a little metal there, a little pop-punky in one corner and a little arty in another. One song calls to mind At the Drive-In; another suggests Sleater-Kinney; on a third, singer-songwriter-guitarist Jamie Henkensiefken’s casual, conversational vocals are almost a dead ringer for those of Alison Mosshart, back when she was in Discount and hadn’t gone all arty with The Kills. Henkensiefken’s songs can challenge the listener who wants to get comfortable — it’s not a huge distance between the ominous, soft beginning of “Blood” and the aggression of “Dusk at Devil’s Tower” or the insistent, steady pace of “Copernicus and Me,” but the shift from one to another can be a bit disconcerting. Just when you think you’ve got the smart songwriting figured out, another angular melody, another distorted guitar, another terse chorus comes along to snap you out of it. But Henkensiefken and her bandmates don’t just make music that requires that you pay attention; they make music that’s worth paying attention to. H is for Hellgate, The Dead Americans and The Ovulators play at 10 pm Friday, Feb. 6, at Luckey’s. 21+. $5. — Molly Templeton

Just Doing It

Learn to play music, and instead of doing a day’s hard labor, get your “money for nothing,” as that old Dire Straits song goes. Well, there’s a group of local musicians who have turned that philosophy on its head. Just People, six friends from Eugene, formed in 2007 with the idea that music can change the world, one person at a time. And that notion of “money for nothing”? Try “music for nothing.” One of the cornerstones of Just People’s ideals is to offer their music for free. The band dug deep into their own pockets to pay for the recording and pressing of 1,000 copies of their first CD, We Are, and second release, Yet To Be Named, both of which they gave away at their shows. Just People have been known to give away CDs, live artwork, T-shirts or other Just People merchandise every time they play.

The band is celebrating the release of their third full length, Rise of the Evolutionaries, which, yep, will be given away for free at their release bash. The band promises that the show will also include live art, DJs, photographers, guest performers and more. 

The band’s goal is “a new social construct based upon kindness, trust and the ideal of getting what you give,” says the MySpace page. As befitting a Eugene band, the group puddlejumps through songs titled “Rain” and “Eugene.” While they are aptly described as jam-rock, soulful melodies by flutist Rachel Hom offer a counterpoint to typical horn- or guitar-driven jams. Just People play at 9 pm Saturday, Feb. 7, at Oak Street Speakeasy. 21+. Free. — Vanessa Salvia

Here Comes Your Future

The Helio Sequence is a band larger than the sum of its parts. Brandon Summers does guitar and vocals while Benjamin Weikel (who had a brief stint as the drummer for Modest Mouse on its breakout hit Good News for People Who Love Bad News) mans the trap. A keyboard sequencer rounds out the instruments, adding electronic tones reminiscent of Air crossed with Bruce Springsteen. Keep Your Eyes Ahead, their underrated 2008 release, strips out most of the inorganic blips of previous records for a more folksy incarnation. 

The album as a whole is inconsistent, but the individual tracks shimmer. I could listen to an entire album worth of songs styled after the heart-on-sleeve acoustics of “Shed Your Love.” The same holds true for the here-comes-your-future power-pop of the title track and the deft percussion on “The Captive Mind.” I came early to the Beaverton-based band on the strength of their debut, Com Plex, a college radio hit of the early ‘00s. Having seen them play twice before (at epic, outdoor venues), I can only imagine how their sound will fill every inch of the WOW Hall with dreamy waves of pop-rock splendor. The Helio Sequence plays with Audrye Sessions and Yeltsin at 9 pm Thursday, Feb. 12, at the WOW Hall. $10 adv., $12 door. — Chuck Adams