Returning to Nashville for the first time in a couple of years, with their latest, weirdest, best, and most topical album to date, Twerp Verse, in tow, indie rockers Speedy Ortiz are set to headline The High Watt tonight, May 10. Along with experimental, multi-instrumentalist and rapper Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, as well as soulful, genre-defying up and comers Zenizen, this is without a doubt one of the coolest shows of the spring, and one you’d be crazy to pass up. Tickets are still available here while they last, and Speedy’s latest LP is streaming and in stores now, if you need any extra convincing. Read on for more about the show!
Formed in 2011, very briefly as a solo endeavor by front person Sadie Dupuis, Massachusetts indie/punk rockers Speedy Ortiz quickly morphed into a proper band, attracting a cult following with their debut EP Sports, and rapidly making a broader splash with their amazing 2013 label debut Major Arcana. Heralded as one of indie rock’s most promising new acts, the group proceeded to tour prolifically and make regular festival stops, earning widespread acclaim ahead of equally well-received 2015 sophomore effort Foil Deer, one of our favorite records of that year. Renowned not only for their musical output, but also for their admirable and outspoken efforts to help create a safer, more communal indie scene, and their smart, socially conscious, and inclusive attitude, the group have remained a unique, important, and unrivaled indie fixture.
For their brand new third album, Twerp Verse, mixed by the legendary Mike Mogis and mastered by Emily Lazar, Speedy actually went through the creative process twice. Initially planned to drop much sooner, when they entered the studio in the fall of 2016, Dupuis found too many songs to be personal or lovey dovey, which felt misguided in a post-election world, causing the group to scrap what they had and reincorporate themes of social politics and protest, as they started again on what would become Twerp Verse throughout last year. Perhaps their weirdest, most heady, and focused effort to date, Speedy’s latest pushes the limits of their grungy, pop accessible, indie style, and just begs to be experienced live- it could be a couple years until you get another chance, so don’t snooze.
LA born, Chicago based multi-instrumentalist, experimental indie rocker, and rapper Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is an incredibly prolific figure in the Chicago scene, playing drums and bass and lending his vocals to a variety of projects, all the while cultivating a buzzworthy solo career. Forging a weird, awesome, and eclectic sound that pulls from elements of avant-pop, free jazz, alternative hip hop, experimental, and occasionally mathy and emo rock, Nnamdi’s 2017 full-length DROOL is nothing short of an indie masterpiece. Though distinctly different from Speedy Ortiz (to be fair- he’s different from everyone), it’s easy to see how both acts’ off-kilter, quirky, and expansive musical sensibilities would be a perfect match, and Ogbonnaya brings to this bill an incredibly unique and essential presence.
We commend Speedy Ortiz for picking openers that are primed to push their audiences’ taste behind the typical indie rock realm, and worldly Brooklyn based project Zenizen, the musical vehicle of Opal Hoyt, is another stellar and exciting choice. Born in Alaska and raised between Vermont, Jamaica, DC, and New York, Hoyt drew from her love of soul, jazz, and r&b to forge Zenizen’s expansive, electro-laced, and experimental sound. The band are expected to drop a debut album this year after a buzzy first EP, and their poetic and hypnotic sound should have them at the top of your radar- you’re going to want to be punctual for this one.
Speedy Ortiz, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, and Zenizen will perform tonight, May 10 at The High Watt. The show is 18+, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available to purchase for $15.