This week, get out of the dystopian smog and hit up one of Seattle's many concert venues—our music critics have picked everything from possibly one of the most prolific married couples still gigging (Amadou & Mariam), to America's grandpa (Willie Nelson), to everybody's first metal experience (Metallica). Follow the links below for complete details and music clips, and find even more options on our complete music calendar.
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Belle and Sebastian with Big Thief
More than two decades into Belle and Sebastian’s career, one knows what to expect from Stuart Murdoch’s Glaswegian indie-pop group: well-constructed tunes that are plenty bookish and sometimes cloyingly cute. Rarely, though, as can be the case with bands who have a penchant for $5 words and literary references, does the music get bogged down by its pretensions. The band’s recent work dabbles in electronics and dance beats—a common antidote to creative inertia. In contrast, there’s nothing twee about opener Big Thief, a vehicle for Adrianne Lenker’s vivid storytelling and beautifully malleable vocals. The group has put out two strong LPs in the past 12 months; on June’s Capacity, Lenker spins emotionally resonant tales of death, romance, and abuse. ANDREW GOSPE
Afterwards, Richard Colburn and Chris Geddes of Belle and Sebastian will host a DJ set at Lo-Fi.
Bomba Estéreo hail from Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, and in general manifest the necessary tropes for electronic dance music: chanted, sometimes distorted vocals, more fun with the pitch bender, regimented drum computers snapping to attention at the end of phrases, bouncy beats, sounds like somebody’s dropped a guitar in a vat of vegetable oil, chimes, echoes, whistles, and of course, the bass drop. I regret that I cannot understand most of the lyrics (some of it’s in English), but Liliana Saumet’s singing sounds passionate, even when it sounds like it’s being recorded by a recorder in the next room over (shades of Exile on Main St). The male singer, Simón Mejía, sounds like he’s having a hell of a time at his own karaoke party. ANDREW HAMLIN
The Claudettes with Gravelroad
The Claudettes play some very serious, well-crafted, piano-led pop rock and even take some stabs at yé-yé, yet they’re grounded by deep Chicago roots: Pianist Johnny Iguana played with Junior Wells AND Otis Rush. God damn. Though not quite as lysergic or progressive as they might perhaps reckon, openers Gravelroad do have a better take on early-’70s rock and roll than a lot of their longhaired and bearded contemporaries; their bright guitar sounds shimmer as they pound out driving boogie and blues jams and ALMOST dip their 12 bars into some electrified rural sounds. MIKE NIPPER
Dungen with Wolf People
No Swedish psych-rock band has a higher profile in America than Dungen, and they’ve earned it. Touring and recording often, Gustav Ejstes and company have built a discography overflowing with complex, beautiful songs that dredge up fond memories of European prog-rock and psychedelia’s most ambitious and florid moments… and their live sets explode into even greater vitality than do their recordings. This tour will focus on Häxan, Dungen’s vocal-free 2016 soundtrack to Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 film The Adventures of Prince Achmed. The record exudes a brooding atmosphere, redolent of a mellifluous melancholy that’s as baroque as a Prague castle, but it also possesses moments of freak-rock extravagance that’ll singe your follicles. Dungen may have ascended to a new peak with this one. DAVE SEGAL
Normally when I hear the word “fusion,” I sprint in the opposite direction. Mostly because it means that I’m about to have to talk to an all-dude jam band or someone who runs their own food blog. With A-WA, fusion is a blessing. The fusion in their music is a conduit for culture, both in energizing swaths of sound and in joining pieces of a puzzle that may not have seemed compatible in less capable hands. I don’t know anything about ancient Yemenite music, so I shouldn’t be trusted to assess authenticity, but the way the three sisters of A-WA meld the song traditions of their homeland with leg-bending funk and hiphop beats and party-ready electronica is exciting and impressive, no matter where you’re from. KIM SELLING
Count Vaseline, Russ Tolman & The True Westerners, Ballard Train Wreck
What a killer lineup tonight at Slim’s. Shoving off first is local rock and roll group Ballard Train Wreck, followed by Russ Tolman & the True Westerners. Yes, this IS Mr. Russ Tolman from the 1980s college-rock group True West and, yes, he is still playing some sweet singer-songwriterly pop rock! Last up is Count Vaseline, aka Stefan Murphy, originally from Ireland, but now living in Hotlanta. From what I can tell, Count Vaseline is a one-man band making dreamy, somewhat atmospheric paisley-pop sounds that feature some deep goth overtones. Dag, so eat a bowl of chili and get DOWN and get with it! MIKE NIPPER
Eyehategod with Guests
I first heard sludge-metal deities Eyehategod at my pot dealer’s house in East Detroit a gazillion years ago. It was 1996’s Dopesick. Man, that album is HEVVVV-VEE! Dealer dude always made me sit a while, so there wasn’t obvious traffic at his place. He was a pit bull breeder, and it was terrifying to watch him fist-pump, shirtless, to Eyehategod while I sat, petting one of his gigantic monster-dogs. 2013 marked the band’s 25th anniversary. It was also the year they lost their drummer, Joey LaCaze, at age 42. The New Orleans natives have been through a lot in two decades—including death, drug addictions, and Hurricane Katrina. But is it slowing them down? “We don’t know how to give up,” singer Mike Williams told NPR in an interview. “That’s been the story of our entire career, our lives, even without the band. We just don’t know when to quit.” KELLY O
Metallica with Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat
It has been 33 years since Metallica released what is arguably their finest record, Ride the Lightning. I say arguably because any of the three records that followed it (one of which ranks among the best-selling albums of all time) and the record that preceded it could be called the best metal record ever—hell, maybe the best hard-rock record ever. Metallica took the earnest-but-kinda-dunderheaded tropes of metal, upped their impact with a dose of Agent Orange, and delivered it with a clear-eyed disdain for the world that remains appropriate to this day. Ride dropped when tensions with Russia were at an all-time high and a conservative nut ran the free world. Sound familiar? Metallica can still get audiences to sweat out their apocalyptic, existential dread, even though it costs a small fortune to see them up close and personal. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Naomi Punk, Dreamdecay, Ghostbitch, DJ HAVING SEX
“‘Rock’ and ‘punk’ have become so conservative that they are rendering themselves obsolete.” That weighty statement accompanies Naomi Punk’s third album, Yellow, a 25-track double LP released August 4 on Captured Tracks. Such a harsh assessment of its genre is perhaps unsurprising for a band whose feverish, fractured DIY punk has always hinted at deconstruction and interrogation. The Olympia trio’s songs are discordant and jagged, often playing out like a sparring match between guitars and drums—even their name reads like meta-commentary on their music. Whether you call it introspection or navel-gazing, it’s punk music that takes a hard look at itself and sounds all the more vital for it. ANDREW GOSPE
Willie Nelson & Family with Kacey Musgraves
Willie Nelson turned 84 this year, but the pot-loving elder icon of outlaw country just keeps on trucking. Not only has he influenced many country movements in more than five decades of music-making, he appeals to a fan base that extends beyond traditional twang appreciators, his songs dosed with elements of folk, country funk, blues, pop, and even jazz. From wry barn burners to rambling dirt-road odes to poignant ballads, you likely know one of the songs he wrote or made famous with his easygoing style—“On the Road Again,” “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” (with Waylon Jennings), “Always on My Mind” (his version got an 1982 Grammy), “Good Hearted Woman,” “Whiskey River,” and (my personal favorite) “Blue Skies,” among them. Nelson continues releasing new material—the most recent, God’s Problem Child, came out this April. He’s also on the road plenty, and his current run of dates features solid warm-up in Kacey Musgraves, the country songwriter who made such a huge splash with 2015’s Pageant Material. LEILANI POLK
Amadou & Mariam
Known as much for their story as their music, Mali duo Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia first met as children at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind, having both lost their vision at an early age. They began performing together in the institute’s Eclipse Orchestra, eventually getting married and starting their own band. Over the last three decades, Amadou and Mariam have developed an international following for their eight albums worth of dynamic world pop.
dreamcatchr, Cold Soda, Critté
Formed in 2015, dreamcatchr are a promising local indie unit featuring the intertwined vocal prowess of guitarist and founder Raven MacDaniels and Shannon Clark layered over catchy drum beats and crisp, pop-infused bass lines. You’ll find hints of Beach House and Tame Impala within their supple, bright melodies. AMBER CORTES
GZA, SIMS, Dyme Def, Kung Foo Grip
More rugged than slave-man boots, new recruits: the man, the GZA, the Genius! He the head! The Genius has lived up to his name many times over since the absolutely classic Liquid Swords hit the block in 1995. In a world where dumbshit rappers kick flat-Earth theory and get lauded for fake-deep flows from the kiddie pool, GZA is lecturing at Harvard, he’s visiting top universities and hobnobbing with noted scientists for motivation. In a paperback rap supermarket thriller section, the GZA is a hardcover anthology of hard sci-fi. The Genius’s blade remains thrillingly sharp almost a quarter century after he promised to “stomp a mud hole in that ass,” but if you watch the sword carefully, you’ll see how it reflects light. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Temples with My Goodness
Temples have carved out a nice niche in the blossoming neo-psych-rock boom with their conventional, song-based version of moves that were established five decades ago (see the Beatles, the Byrds, Pretty Things, early Status Quo, et al.). Temples’ albums Sun Structures and Volcano come across like a lower-budget, lower-ambitioned Tame Impala, meaning that they’re not unpleasant at all, just a bit rote and predictable. Maybe the drugs will help. DAVE SEGAL
Bryan Ferry will bring his beautiful teeth to Woodinville for a night of Roxy Music classics and tracks from his illustrious solo career, as part of the Chateau Ste. Michelle Summer Concert Series.
Concerts at the Mural
In true KEXP fashion, another enjoyable round of free family-friendly concerts this year are up at the Mural Amphitheater at Seattle Center. This week, Telekinesis, Y La Bamba, and Haley Heynderickx will headline.
High Plains, Wild Card, Cruel Diagonals
If you like Kranky Records’ ambient deep-diver Loscil (Scott Morgan), you may appreciate High Plains, his collaboration with classically trained cellist Mark Bridges. High Plains’ 2017 debut LP, Cinderland, trawls in the sort of grave ambient/chamber-music strata that Rachel’s, Stars of the Lid, and Christina Vantzou have taken to acclaim in the gallery/museum circuit. Somber beauty prevails throughout Cinderland, its intimate yet majestic compositions and field recordings suffusing the room with dusk-at-the-cliffs solemnity. Portland underground-electronic supergroup Wild Card—Paul “Strategy” Dickow, William Selman (former Deluxe Records artist Warmdesk), and Marcus Fischer—use modular synthesizers to concoct cerebral, microscopic sound events that are the analog equivalent of what German label Mille Plateaux issued on those epochal Clicks & Cuts comps. DAVE SEGAL
Joyce Moreno Quartet
One of Rio's best exports, Joyce Moreno has been writing and performing solo and with popular collaborators like Paulinho da Viola and Caetano Veloso for five decades now. She'll sing her own lilting Brazilian paraiso, samba, and jazz-inflected pop works in an intimate set.
Nacho Picasso, King Leez, Gifted Gab, :30, Reklez, Bryn King
There are two—nay, three—things I love about Nacho Picasso. One, you can tell from his sometimes funny, sometimes perverse (sometimes both at once) rhymes that dude gives zero fucks. Two, he blithely raps about cocaine and other vices, providing an antidote to Seattle's sometimes squeaky-clean rap scene. Three, every time I hear that name, I picture Picasso eating nachos. AMBER CORTES
Noise Complaint One Year Anniversary Party with J.PHLIP
Noise Complaint, the top monthly dance party jewel in the Kremwerk crown that acts as a populist throw down of all things eclectic and electronic, is officially turning one whole year old. This anniversary iteration will feature a three hour extended set from Dirtybird resident J.PHLIP.
Raekwon, Carter Wilson, Relevant References, B. Cole, DTL
Raekwon may be a notable figure from the golden or silver age of rap, but the Chef has never been one to kick back and rely on his greatest hits for cred. His latest, this year’s The Wild, is true to form, using his natural charisma to tie together an album that slots a Marvin Gaye memorial track alongside some patented Raekwon skits and ass-beating lyrics. As far as Wu-Tang members go, Rae probably holds the most current-day hiphop relevance alongside Ghostface Killah, both of whom are also among the most entertaining, turn-of-phrase mad scientists in rap history. Raekwon’s fiery delivery and slick wit allow him to rap about “gray-haired gangsters” with an insider’s wisdom and not sound old in a game dominated by youth. TODD HAMM
Swirlies with Cruel Summer
Nineties shoegaze bands have given fans manifold gifts over the last few years, but few acts capture the intensity of Swirlies’ soft-loud whirligig of dreamy indie-gaze. Swirlies’ cult-only status has me wanting to shout, “Blonder Tongue Audio Baton!” across all the mountaintops and new-moneyed condos. Sprung in 1990 from the ashes of a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Go-Go’s cover band called Raspberry Bang, Swirlies released several albums of varying noisy and experimental tendencies, and even dabbled in vaguely electronic styles, as exemplified by “House of Pancake.” Their discography contains a feedback-drenched minefield of indie-rock heavy-hitters (“San Cristobal de la Casas” and “Tall Ships”). Unlike contemporaries My Bloody Valentine or Swervedriver, however, Swirlies never broke up, you’ve just never heard of them. They made their own under-heralded mark in and beyond shoegaze with memorable riffage, ecstatic dreaminess, and thrilling experimental flourishes. BRITTNIE FULLER
Columbia City Blues Festival
The fifth annual Columbia City Blues Festival allows the Royal Room to do what it does best: spotlight important historical music developments and put them into contexts that 21st-century folks can comprehend. The event’s three nights will explore the crucial impact of cultural icon Howlin' Wolf, with each night focusing on different themes and periods of his life as a legendary blues musician. DAVE SEGAL
DJ Quik & Scarface with a Live Band
Compton rapper/producer legend DJ Quik’s debut, Quik Is the Name, came out in 1991—a full 20 years before his most recent full-length, The Book of David—but the quality of his output has barely (if at all) faltered in that time span. He’s still producing all of his own classic Way-2-Fonky West Coast beats and still running circles around suckers with his effortless flow and rapid-fire, smooth-yet-sharp rhyme patterns. Quik’s refusal to let his game slip has rewarded him the kind of career longevity that very few rap veterans get to enjoy. Expect his live set to include nothing but hits and very few signs of aging. MIKE RAMOS
Inter Arma, Atriarch, Adaura
If you like metal and you’re not checking out the seasoned veterans at the Slayer concert, then you should hit Barboza tonight. Richmond’s Inter Arma haven’t had their breakthrough moment with the larger metal audience yet, but if you’re an obsessive scourer of new heavy music then you’ve undoubtedly seen the band’s name on every underground outlet’s end-of-the-year list. Unlike so many hyped albums, last year’s Paradise Gallows is worthy of the accolades. On their third full-length, you can hear echoes of classic-era Metallica balladry, Darkthrone’s troglodyte slash-and-burn tactics, Neurosis’s hallucinatory devastations, and a host of other reference points, but it all comes together in a cohesive and unprecedented sound. Sure, you could see the vanguard at WaMu tonight, but wouldn’t you rather brag about seeing the new pioneers before they blew up? BRIAN COOK
Lush Sounds Vol. 3
Lush Sounds is a 21+ summer music series at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. They invite you to join them "with all of your friends for early evening of unwinding to lush sounds in one of the most lush environments in Seattle!" If you hadn't guessed, it's a very lush affair. Unlike normal visits to the conservatory, where the lushest thing is the plant life, this one includes booze and DJs (Riz Rollins and Kyle Hops!), so you can be the lushest, wildest thing there. You don't get the chance to party in such absolutely gorgeous environs every day, and $15 is a small price to pay for the privilege, while also supporting the mission of the Friends of the Conservatory. TOBIAS COUGHLIN-BOGUE
Slayer, Lamb of God, Behemoth
If you like metal and you’re not checking out the fresh blood at the Inter Arma show, then you’re probably going to be at this concert. And for good reason: Despite the loss of Jeff Hanneman (RIP), the firing of Dave Lombardo, and consistent media controversy, Slayer are still an imposing force live. Similarly, anyone pining for an heir to the Pantera throne will likely find something to love in Lamb of God. But the real highlight of the night comes by way of Poland. Few metal bands reach their zenith in their third decade of existence, but Gdańsk’s black-metal heroes Behemoth manage to become only more ferocious and ambitious with each album, peaking with their epically evil 2014 album, The Satanist. Show up early, and then go to Barboza. BRIAN COOK
107.7 The End Summer Camp 2017
Summer Camp is 107.7 The End's version of Warped Tour: all the bands you hear on your favorite Seattle rock station, but actually in the flesh on stage at Marymoor Park, playing all the hits. This year's lineup features Metric, Vance Joy, Bishop Briggs, Minus The Bear, Beth Ditto, and many more.
The Buttertones, Snuff Redux
Surf, surf surf. Surf. The Buttertones are from Hollywood, so we should expect this. The lyrics, though, impassioned and filled with bad puns, remind me more of psych-pop, which after all took something from surf rock by way of the garage. Geetars twang. A sax shrieks like a buried-alive shlub pounding on his interior casket lid. Two-headed sharks rear twin nasty heads. Geetars twang, ping, twang. Apparitions appear from between the dunes at sundown, reminding me that the surf sound leads to the haunted-house rock, too. Dead girlfriends, or at least girlfriends who may be dead, seem to occupy the singer’s mind. Like they said in Solaris (the second film version, the popular one): Will she come back? Do you want her to? ANDREW HAMLIN
Margaret Glaspy, Liza Anne
It’s hard to believe that Margaret Glaspy is even singing in English, or any other language I would innately understand (I’m a white person who grew up in the United States, I only know one thing). Her warped tone and hauntingly demure scowl brings to mind a toxic tumbleweed, rolling down the broken set of Our Town. It’s undeniably American, with a slick Southern Gothic thumbprint, tempered by a hollow directness that comes from trauma survived. She’s worth listening to simply to translate these emotions for yourself, in any way you can. KIM SELLING