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Columbia To-Do List (Sept. 1-8): Jason Isbell, Steve Earle, First Thursday on Main


Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. Provided


Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Throughout the continuing pandemic, as my comfort level with going out to see live music left, returned and is now somewhere in between, I have frequently turned to live albums for a hit of the energy that helps sustain me. One I’ve turned to more than most is Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s 2018 collection “Live from the Ryman.” The raw and booming document vividly captures the gripping and muscular band that turns Isbell’s compositions into some of the best country-rock (or just rock) songs around these days. The 2020 album “Reunions” showcases the group’s capacity for complex, atmospheric arrangements, and that strength will surely be on display at their Cola Concert at the Columbia Speedway Amphitheater. But I’m hoping for more fire and grit. I need it. The Sept. 2 concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20. As you may have heard, this date and all current Isbell tour dates require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours to attend. Find out more at JORDAN LAWRENCE


First Thursday on Main

There’s a show on Boyd Plaza for this month’s First Thursday on Main, but it doesn’t foreground music. The event gets back to its roots as a gallery crawl with a pop-up outdoor art show featuring locals Flavia Lovatelli, Jeff Rivers, Tennyson Corley, Mark Dreher and Jerod Chandler. Reliable vibe setter (and frequent Free Times contributor) Preach Jacobs will DJ. Reliably delicious taco truck Los Chicanos will sell grub. The adjoining Columbia Museum of Art will be open with free admission. If live music’s your pleasure, you won’t have to go far, as the righteously rootsy indie rock band Wombat Junction will set up under the awning at Mast General store. And as always, you can stroll between the 1200 and 1700 blocks with an open beer or wine. The festivities start at 6 p.m. on Sept. 2. More info is available at JORDAN LAWRENCE



In its merger of melodic thrash and abrasive black metal, Columbia's Demiser recalls the urgency and sense of danger that emanated from bands like Slayer and Venom at a time when extreme metal was only beginning to define itself. Contrasting frantic pacing with strong melodic hooks and occult themes, Demiser might’ve gained infamy in the ‘80s Satanic Panic. Instead, they’re giving new life to metal’s devilish thrills. The band’s 2021 full-length debut, "Through The Gate Eternal," threatens appeal beyond the metal underground with an onslaught of potent and memorable riffs. On Sept. 4, the band headlines at New Brookland Tavern, with support from Richmond’s Left Cross, Greensboro’s Paezor and Charlotte's Krvsade. Doors open at 7 p.m. Admission costs between $10 and $15. More info is available at BRYAN C. REED


First Saturday Art Series

The Cayce River Arts District looks to stake its own claim on local arts with the latest entry in its recently started First Saturday series. This month's iteration will spotlight galleries such as State & Frink and the recently opened Backyardkoi & ART, Southern Essence Distilling (which will offer free tastings) and buskers, along with food trucks and children's activities. The festivities go from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 4. Head to to find out more. JORDAN LAWRENCE


Cody Johnson & Friends

The Township Auditorium hosts its first show since March 2020 this week, and it does so with what seems like a safe bet. Cody Johnson indulges familiar mainstream country constructs — his recent single “‘Til You Can’t” kicks off with the couplet, “You can tell your old man you'll do some large-mouth fishin' another time / You just got too much on your plate to bait and cast a line,” offering plain-spoken reminders to not let life pass you by. But his baritone is rich and well twanged, and his words are a little more poetic than the radio average. His Sept. 3 concert with Ian Munsick starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost between $30 and $35. Find out more at JORDAN LAWRENCE


Beverly Crowder

Atlanta-based R&B artist Beverly Crowder was a backup singer for Jon B before releasing her debut single “You Came Along”. The tune stayed on Billboard’s R&B and hip-hop chart for 13 weeks, peaking at No. 48. Since then, Crowder has applied her supple vocals to covering tunes popularized by artists such as Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Lauryn Hill and more. She performs at Chayz Lounge on Sept. 3. Tickets cost $25. Find out more at PAT MORAN


Jenn Snyder

Jenn Snyder is a lot like you and me, only way funnier. The Columbia standup comedian has been through ups and downs, made some good moves and some bad ones, gone for the big time and not quite made it, and come up with some hilarious observations about every step of her journey. Instead of trying to figure out what’s happening with your own life, why not head over to Curiosity Coffee Bar on Sept. 3 and hear what’s going on with Jenn’s? Allie Johns lends support. Showtime is 8 p.m., and admission is $10. Masks are required. Find out more at VINCENT HARRIS


Brandy and the Butcher, Trash Room, FireNest

Pardon our cliched question, but are you ready to rock? If so, Art Bar is the place to be tonight for this triple bill of Brandy and the Butcher, Trash Room, and FireNest. Things kick off with the power-trio sound of FireNest, followed by some heavy punk rock from Trash Room. Brandy and the Butcher, which features the Jam Room Recording Studio’s own producer/owner Jay Matheson on guitar, finishes the night off with a refreshing blast of no-B.S.. rock ‘n’ roll. The Sept. 4 show starts at 8 p.m. Visit for more info. VINCENT HARRIS


“Disgraced Monuments”

A new regime’s practice of erasing all traces of the old dates at least to Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III, who removed all images of his predecessor Queen Hatshepsut. The documentary “Disgraced Monuments” looks at the more recent history of the Soviet Union, where social upheaval prompted the removal of past heroes from official memory. A discussion with Olga Yukhno, recent McMaster Gallery manager at UofSC, follows a Sept. 8 screening of the film at the Columbia Museum of Art, in conjunction with the ongoing exhibition “The Ironic Curtain: Art from the Soviet Underground.” Tickets for the 7 p.m. event cost $10. More info is available at PAT MORAN


Steve Earle

At this point, Steve Earle is a living legend of the country-rock faith, with a diverse, deep and eclectic back catalog that makes any concert a genuine treat. But when you add to it the revitalization of his backing Dukes in recent years, plus a steady stream of originals and tribute records, you have a damn-near can’t-miss show. He plays the Newberry Opera House on Sept. 2. The show starts at 8 p.m. and costs $85. More info is available at KYLE PETERSEN


Rex Darling

Rex Darling is hypnotic. The relatively new Columbia indie rock band puts listeners in a clairvoyant state, with Catherine Hunsinger giving off Stevie Nicks vibes in her lead vocals and stage presence. Some of Columbia's best indie rock talent makes up this ensemble, which sprung from Hunsinger’s bar duo serenading with guitarist John Vail, immersing listeners in a sound that pulls from disparate sources to build something increasingly singular. Psychedelic alt-rock band Mango Furs open (think Arctic Monkeys). Stankito and Bones Hamilton fill out the four-act bill at New Brookland Tavern on Sept. 2. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets cost between $8 and $12. More info is available at HALLIE HAYES



Comedian, actor and Queens native Lorenzo “Renny” Cromwell broke into the comedy industry as an online personality, gaining more than 3 million followers with his funny and often poignant videos on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. A stint on MTV improv comedy show “Wild ‘n Out” followed. Cromwell’s film credits include the TV movie “The Christmas Lottery'' and the independent feature “Fruits of the Heart.” He performs at The Comedy House Sept. 3 and 4. Tickets cost between $15 and $25. For more info, go to PAT MORAN


Brent Cobb and Nikki Lane

What we’ve got here is two of the most compelling artists in alt-country, Brent Cobb and Nikki Lane, on the same stage at The Senate. On his “Keep ’Em On They Toes” album, Cobb, the cousin of producer Dave Cobb, favors stripped-down, acoustic-flavored twang that could be called Americana as easily as country. Nikki Lane, on the other hand, mixes plenty of outlaw attitude and rock muscle into her music, as evidenced by her excellent album “Highway Queen.” Showtime is 7 p.m. on Sept. 5, and tickets cost between $20 and $25. Visit for more info. VINCENT HARRIS


Tripping on Bricks

Four-piece Columbia rock band Tripping on Bricks construct a timeless sound with the essential elements of vocals, instrumentals and lyrics. Their full-length album “Colorblind” shows immense diversity within this tight template, transitioning from measured ballads to robust rockers. Their 2021 single “Tenants” displays further growth, twisting into alternative-leaning pop-rock. They play Uncle Festers on Sept. 2 with Gentlemen’s Crow, and Homemade Haircuts. Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert cost between $10 and $12. Find out more at HALLIE HAYES

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