Calvin Johnson is a prime mover in the world of indie rock. He’s had a particularly powerful influence on the important music scene of the Pacific Northwest, which in turn has shaped indie music around the world.
Johnson founded the fiercely independent taste-making label K Records, which released music by artists like Beck, Built To Spill and Modest Mouse. K Records was hugely admired by Kurt Cobain, and the label and Johnson are justly beloved for bringing music by less well known artists like Little Wings, the Melvins and Karl Blau into our ears.
If DIY and lo-fi are your thing, Johnson is your guy. Johnson’s music reflects the sensibility of an artist with expansive tastes and a sense of humor. He fronted Beat Happening, a band that toured with Fugazi. His Dub Narcotic Sound System draws on the abstract studio aesthetic of dub reggae, grafting some of those mixing-board tricks onto quirky indie rock.
Johnson’s deep deadpan vocals sometimes bring to mind a funny and crazed iteration of industrial-minded electronic bands like Depeche Mode. Johnson is a champion of the brilliantly primitive.
See Calvin Johnson in the Front Room at Space Ballroom, 295 Treadwell St., Hamden, on Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. $10 to $12. 203-288-6400, spaceballroom.com