Daylight Savings has brought us sunlight, the vernal equinox has come and gone, and we have officially arrived at springtime—if only in linear time, not in weather. Shake off your winter hibernation and head outside for these recommended live music shows around town this week. We've got everything from decades-strong SoCal hardcore legends still kicking, to "experimental indie-clasts" serving up ambient Twin Peaks dreamscapes, to sunny Portland psychedelia sure to get you dancing. Enjoy these shows and more, all on our music calendar.
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Carpenter Brut with Magic Sword
Inspired by the soundtracks of director John Carpenter, the Italian disco of Giorgio Moroder, and generations of video-game soundtracks, synthwave is a dark and moody style of electronica that inspires dance parties, but the acts playing it tend to sign to heavy-metal labels. If you need to see how well those two things mesh visually and stylistically, check out the “Turbo Killer” video by France’s Carpenter Brut. Right about the time the hot rods crash into the inverted cross spaceship, I was sold. So were many others, it seems. Carpenter Brut were going to play a smaller venue, but after Perturbator and GoST—two other synthwave acts—sold out the Highline, this show was moved to Neumos. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Nikki Lane, Robert Ellis, Jonathan Tyler
Claiming the identity of a "modern-era Wanda Jackson," Nikki Lane has been busy crafting neu-country out of trademark sass. She'll be joined by Robert Ellis and Jonathan Tyler.
Old 97's with Ha Ha Tonka
Alt-country Texas rockers the Old 97's are still going strong, and they'll hit the newly remodeled Neumos stage with Ha Ha Tonka.
Panic! At the Disco with MisterWives and Saint Motel
Rehash the good old days of the late 1990s and early ’00s with Panic! At the Disco, whom I truly hoped were dead, but are in fact back to rock us once more with that flat-ironed, velvet-blazered Johnny Bravo aesthetic and stadium emo pop even your grandparents can enjoy (mostly because it’s completely toothless). KIM SELLING
Xenia Rubinos with Guests
Xenia Rubinos wants to punch you in the face with her work. She flings power chords, slashing drums, stringent truths about race relations in America, and ruby-red high notes around your throat like a bloodied vine. Her old-world vocal charm flurries through tales of public indignation and broken promises to raise a swirling eddy representative of the stark intensity of the high feminine. If she’s even half as powerful live as she is on her latest album, Black Terry Cat, then we are in for a proper throwdown. KIM SELLING
Xiu Xiu, Newaxeyes, Zen Mother, Taylar Elizza Beth
This is one of the most stacked experimental bills Seattle has seen in a long time, with veteran experimental indie-clasts Xiu Xiu supported by a stellar array of rising Seattle talent. Jamie Stewart founded Xiu Xiu in 2002, combining uncomfortably intimate, whispery vocals with shock-seeking cacophonies on mid-’00s records like A Promise and Fabulous Muscles. More than a dozen years later, Forget takes Stewart’s challenging avant-garde formulas and distorts them under To Be Kind producer John Congleton, also collaborating with Swans guitarist Kristof Hahn, Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier, and minimalist composer Charlemagne Palestine. Forget teeters between vulnerably hushed (but still sadistic) and antagonistic confrontation, but the album’s lead single “Jenny GoGo” is a pure dark-pop gem, and likely Xiu Xiu’s best song of the past few years. Because they embrace everything from controversial lyrical themes (“I Luv Abortion”) to ambient Twin Peaks soundtrack tributes, a Xiu Xiu live set is never predictable. BRITTNIE FULLER
Saxophonist, singer, and composer Grace Kelly, in promotion of her recently released 10th album as a band leader, will perform a two-night set.
Social Distortion with Jade Jackson
Punks and greasers, it’s time to shine up them wallet chains and dig out your sleeveless jean jackets, ’cause tonight y’all got church—Social Distortion are playin’ LIVE! It’s hard to believe the band—er, frontman Mike Ness and band—have kept on keepin’ on for nearly 40 years. And their music, if you have somehow missed hearing them these last four decades, is mid-tempo, melodic, and catchy SoCal hardcore. Love ’em or hate ’em, Social D are a cornerstone of what became codified as contemporary pun crock. Opening tonight is Ms. Jade Jackson, who will no doubt stun the punters with her Mazzy Star–ish, forlorn singer-songwriter sounds. MIKE NIPPER
British artist and rapper Little Simz heads stateside for a night of hiphop in promotion of her latest album Stillness in Wonderland.
Rickie Lee Jones with Madeleine Peyroux
Rickie Lee Jones sang “Sympathy for the Devil” (prerecorded) as I read how Trump’s (first) travel ban got definitively thumped by the courts: That night, her manifestation of pure evil/ego—toting its crimes in a failing rasp, a boast its only potency—left me reduced to a toothless pile of wrinkles camped out by the shitter in Joe’s Bar & Grill. Madeleine Peyroux gives us a healthy, sensible Billie Holiday—bit of a creak, but sweetness at the bottom in each note. Her “Desperados Under the Eaves” turns melancholy with elegance, a move that angers “alcoholic purists” out there on YouTube—but I say some people fade (alcoholically) with melancholy elegance. Wrong. Horrible. But sometimes people disappear (slowly) into air-conditioner hum. ANDREW HAMLIN
Ariana Grande with Little Mix and Victoria Monet
Multi-platinum pop singer Ariana Grande will take over KeyArena on her Dangerous Woman tour in support of her latest album of the same name, with opening sets from Little Mix and Victoria Monet.
Bambu with DJ Phatrick
Hiphop fans around these parts may remember California rapper Bambu as half of rap duo the Bar, for which he partnered with Seattle’s Prometheus Brown (aka Geologic) of Blue Scholars. From tossing Filipino cuisine and sexy-nurse checkup raps back and forth on those Bar releases to real-deal gangland storytelling with his Native Guns crew to decrying police brutality on tracks with Killer Mike, Bambu has proved himself a versatile dude. His latest album, Prey for the Devil, finds him holding little back, as he delves into racial and social politics with the same vigor he’s been surfing the waves of conscious rap for a decade and a half. TODD HAMM
Eisley, Civilian, Backward Dancer
Eisley’s 2017 release, I’m Only Dreaming, pushes off hard into a strained web of its own personal relationship mythology with “Always Wrong,” four dense minutes of power-pop pleading. The album weaves itself into a corner, that of the pulsing mid-’00s film soundtrack style library—all singular narrative, real tragic hero stuff, with plenty of emotional diversions. Where it bumps up against cleverness is with its treatment of anxieties, some physical and some mental, but each dosed with a different texture and layered along clear-cut power chords and a touch of the Cranberries’ romantic malaise. It’s the soundtrack for a folk-emo junior prom, but the sentiment is authentic, and when it hits hard, it hits well. KIM SELLING
Seiho, Community Corporation, Matt Tecson, T.Wan
Osaka, Japan’s Seiho creates an interesting hybrid of tantalizing 21st-century digital exotica and uplifting house music. The producer seems to be getting meta with common signifiers of “Oriental” timbres and instrumentation in order to recontextualize them for modern clubbers. Come for the jagged, postmodern disruptions of dance-floor orthodoxy, stay for the sexxxy cover of Prince’s “Adore.” Detroit’s Community Corporation is a versatile DJ who somehow found a way to play acid techno to the masses at 2016’s Bonnaroo Festival. What did you do last summer? DAVE SEGAL
Yonder Mountain String Band with The Li'l Smokies
The bluegrass (yet genre-bending) Yonder Mountain String Band will headline this concert, with The Li'l Smokies providing Montana-style folk music as the opener.
THURSDAY & SATURDAY
Beethoven Symphony No. 5
After two years of exploring Beethoven’s symphonies and concertos, Seattle Symphony conductor Ludovic Morlot will finally perform his interpretation of Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony, with Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 as a final course for the evening.
You know this one! This is the one that goes dun-dun-dun-DUNNNNNNNNNN! Music director Ludovic Morlot has been running through Beethoven's symphonies for the last two years, and he's saved the most familiar—and most dramatic?—for last. If you haven't made it down to Benaroya to watch the SSO do its thang, then let this "Untuxed" edition be your gateway performance. The musicians aren't wearing their finest, so you don't have to either, and tickets are even cheaper than they'd otherwise be. RICH SMITH
Bob Log III, The Spinning Whips, Jake Laundry
If y’all hear a mighty thunder tonight, it’s prolly just Bob Log playing his shake ’n’ baked, bent-assed country blues. I guess 20 or so years back, he was the pickin’ half of the buskin’ blues duo Doo Rag, but since he went solo, he’s been the king of the one-man bands. And he IS the king; he don’t need help to get around to get on his get down. His “bass guitar” is his thumb, his right-hand fingers strum and pick while his left-hand fingers hammer out the “melody.” He sings, er, hollers through an old land-line phone receiver fixed into an old motorcycle helmet, and his feet knock out the beats! MIKE NIPPER
Pure Bathing Culture with My Body
Pure Bathing Culture's “Pendulum”, one of the most elegant pop compositions I’ve heard in recent years and the opener of last night’s set. It's like 70's FM radio clockwork: the subtly complex bass line bobbing beneath waves of feather-light electric guitar, with the sort of so-simple-it’s-perfect drum machine beat keeping the whole thing yacht-rocking ever forward. But the part that elevates the song from merely pretty indie rock to melancholic summer anthem are the vocals by lead singer Sarah Versprille, whose ethereal voice hovers over the music with an eerie grace. And what is the song about, you ask? I really have no idea. The lyrics I can make out, about "little fears whispered in rabbit's ears" and how "you're so hollow" seem to indicate some pretty bleak stuff. But then she says that I'm "gonna swing like a pendulum" so maybe redemption's around the corner? See for yourself. KYLE FLECK
STRFKR with Psychic Twin
Joshua Hodges is the visionary leader of STRFKR, a Portland-based synth-pop band with light psychedelic and indie-rock tendencies. Their sound is driven by Hodges’s pleasant, sighing vocals, bright keys, pulsing and bumping bass, and beats with just enough groove appeal to make you want to dance—but not too hard, more like an easy, hip-shaking sway and slight shoulder shimmy. STRFKR dropped a fifth full-length in November, Being No One, Going Nowhere, and released another album, Vault Vol. 1, in February, the first of three that compile previously unreleased and rare tracks, including material composed well before their 2008 self-titled debut. LEILANI POLK
Teenage Fanclub with Britta Phillips
Though they’ve kept a low profile since the mid-1990s, the pop classicists of Teenage Fanclub never went away. The Scottish outfit simply took a longer break than usual (six years) between albums. It did them good, since Here ranks among their finest since 1991’s Bandwagonesque. In the interim, Teenage Fanclub have turned down the volume and burnished their melodies to a warm, coppery glow. Britta Phillips, who’ll be joined by husband Dean Wareham, debuted as the voice of Jem and the Holograms before joining Wareham in Luna. As Dean & Britta, they’ve composed scores for the works of Andy Warhol and Noah Baumbach. More recently, she released her solo debut, Luck or Magic, a cool, dreamy confection that plays like Nancy Sinatra by way of the Chromatics. KATHY FENNESSY
Xurs, Local Pavlov, Porn Bloopers
When you’re old enough to have experienced the first wave of punk, you typically find yourself unimpressed by new versions of the genre in these here 2010s. However, Seattle quartet Xurs make this geezer grudgingly admit that da yoof of America still have some vital contributions to make to ye olde punk rock. Their self-titled 2016 album boasts stinging, venomous guitars that split the difference between A Frames and SST-era Sonic Youth and songs that zigzag with a spasmodic math-rock logic that deviates from the punk rule book. Add some acerbic lyrics you wouldn’t mind painting onto your leather jacket, and you have a fresh take on a musical style that was already going rotten by 1979. DAVE SEGAL
The Growlers' noirish and articulate guitar explorations have been slinking their way onto stereos with a quickness of late. The band's surfers-on-mushrooms reputation belies their industriousness, which includes at least seven records in the last five years, and also the Beach Goth Party, which invites all manner of like-minded acts to converge in Orange County for a celebration of what might be called the musical antithesis of Orange County. GRANT BRISSEY
Ivan Smagghe and Guests
Producer/DJ Ivan Smagghe emerged from France’s fertile 1990s house scene and then, with Arnaud Rebotini, formed Black Strobe, which enjoyed a brief spurt of electroclash glory later that decade. Twenty years on, Smagghe is still causing a ruckus on dance floors with sets that balance decadence with ominousness. That combustible combination is exemplified by Smagghe’s Fabric 23 mix from 2005, especially in the sequence where Audion’s “Just Fucking (Roman Flügel’s ‘23 Positions in a One-Night Stand’ Mix)” segues into Sergej Auto’s “Carnage, OK!” Smagghe has also DJed back to back with the legendary Andrew Weatherall (Sabres of Paradise, Two Lone Swordsmen, coproducer of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, etc.), and the latter doesn’t DJ with just anybody. DAVE SEGAL
James Chance & The Contortions with Quid Quo
From the avant-jazz-inflected post-punk of the Contortions to his fork-in-a-socket James Brown simulacrum James White and the Blacks, it was clear that sax-shredding frontman James Chance thought a lot of—and a lot about—Black music in his quest for no wave stardom. He played with race possibly as much as any white musician in (what is arguably) a rock band ever has. Lester Bangs’s famous 1979 “The White Noise Supremacists” essay quoted Chance as saying that “the magical qualities of black music” (in Bangs’s words) were “a bunch of nigger bullshit” (in Chance’s). “Of course I’m celebrating black music and culture,” Chance said in the New York Press decades later. “I’ve had bands that were completely black!” Okay, if you’ve heard one white artist be flip and “provocative” about something that doesn’t affect him, maybe you’ve heard them all. Still, out of the OG Blacks lineup did emerge downtown darlings Defunkt, and Chance himself is the rightful godfather of all punk-funk fuckery—so contort yourself as you see fit, ’cause the shit still jams. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Rocky Votolato with Guests
At first listen, Rocky Notolato's 2012 album, Television of Saints, feels a little shallow compared to his past releases. Votolato has never sugarcoated his emotions—from 2003's Suicide Medicine to 2010's True Devotion, he's openly addressed depression and heartbreak. Television of Saints sounds so much more gentle and copacetic. But listen a little closer, and his daily battles are still there. For example, "Sunlight" sounds like a warm harmonica-laced country song, but it wasn't until the third or fourth listen that I really heard the lyrics: "Till you fall you never know what you've been standing on/Oh, mental health, where have you been hiding?/These illusions, they can be so blinding." Preach it, Votolato. MEGAN SELING
Weeed, Bay Witch, Oh Rose
The three junior heshers in Weeed made quite the statement with 2014’s Feng Shui Capital of the World, an alternately meditative and bone-crushing collection of psychedelic metal whose peaks rivaled any other ambitious stoners in Seattle. Their follow up, July’s Our Guru Brings Us to the Black Master Sabbath, is an even more accomplished batch of grass-fed, beefy jams and non-sequitur vocals from the trio. KYLE FLECK
Deafheaven, This Will Destroy You, Emma Ruth Rundle
Neither rain nor snow nor hit pieces in the A.V. Club will stop the continuing dominance of Bay Area black-metal crew Deafheaven, who managed to blow up black metal in the US by making the cover to their Sunbather album hot pink. Silly controversies aside, Deafheaven put on an intimidating live show. Singer George Clarke is a charismatic performer who channels bits of David Bowie and Ian Curtis into a genre that’s mostly too tough for its own good. Show up early to catch LA’s Emma Ruth Rundle. Her 2016 album, Marked for Death, is the most heartbreaking piece of slowcore I’ve heard since that last Low album. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Mega Bog, Hand Habits, Hoop
Mega Bog is the project of singer/songwriter/mover/shaker Erin Birgy. With an ever-changing collection of friends filtering in and out of the band, Mega Bog’s sound varies, but you can probably expect honest and dreamy experiments in pop music that are the best kind of bonkers EMILY NOKES
Passenger with The Paper Kites
Brighton-born singer-songwriter Mike Rosenberg performs as Passenger and is on tour promoting his sixth studio album Whispers. He'll most likely play more than just "Let Her Go," with The Paper Kites acting as show support.
WHY? with Open Mike Eagle
At this point, it almost goes without saying that Yoni Wolf isn’t your average rapper. The Cincinnati native rose to prominence in the late 1990s/early ’00s backpack-rap scene as part of cLOUDDEAD, along with Doseone and Odd Nosdam, cofounders of outré rap label Anticon. While Why? had been Wolf’s stage name since 1997, in 2004 he made the unprecedented move of turning his MC handle into the name of an indie-rock band that has remained popular for more than a decade. Part of Why?’s popularity can be attributed to the fact that there’s really no other band out there like them—rap-rock this is not. Rather, Why’s dexterous, sing-songy flow proved the perfect counterpart to Wolf’s bandmate and brother Matt Meldon’s imaginative, folk-friendly, and prog-inspired instrumentation, which has earned them fans more into Bob Dylan than Biz Markie. In town to promote their fifth album, Moh Lhean, the now-six-member band’s energetic and emotive live sets will be supported by alt rapper Open Mike Eagle. NICK ZURKO