THURSDAY 2/27


TED LEO & THE PHARMACISTS, HINT HINT, THE CRIPPLES
(Graceland) See preview, page 41.

TORTOISE, THE VELLS
(Showbox) Chicago's Tortoise mafia, a rough-and-tumble assortment of deceptively bookish, mild-mannered thugs, rule the post-rock universe like street toughs--dipping their paws into just about every worthy cerebral rock band that fuses mathy, hiccupping syncopation with approachable, meditative ambiance. You remember post-rock, right? That old '90s relic? The last musical bastion for the socially inept, post-rock was that place where the rock kids in your high-school jazz band found solace--pretentious, heavy-handedly complex, and almost universally docile. Tortoise and the minions of its regime dominated the "movement" with an iron fist, on both their own records and those of their innumerable side projects (the Sea and Cake, Brokeback, Isotope 217, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum). Hard times may have fallen on the Tortoise boys, what with the public's seemingly complete indifference to their chosen form of sonic pursuit, but don't let the silence fool you. The devotees might be a quiet bunch, but the minute the doors open, it'll be 1996 all over again. ZAC PENNINGTON

HOTTER THAN HELL, BLACK VINYL ALL-STARS
(Crocodile) Even before the deadly pyro-ignited nightclub fire happened in Rhode Island, I'd been advising folks to mentally note all the exits at the Crocodile if they were planning to attend tonight's Kiss tribute featuring Hotter Than Hell. Honestly, I can't imagine how a band dressed in vintage Kiss costumes and using props from Kiss' 1976 tour could wedge themselves onto the Croc's relatively small stage, and if this particular tribute band is anything like Black Diamond was 10 years ago, there's bound to be plenty of flame action involved. Now, whether the Crocodile will allow it to happen is another issue--just be safe when you're rockin' it faux-Kiss style. KATHLEEN WILSON

RIGHT ON!, THE POPULAR SHAPES, THE MAKE-OUT CHOIR, BIZMARK, ZEKE, THE LOAD LEVELERS, FLAME THROWER, GAS HUFFER, THE CHARMING SNAKES, LONGTOOTH, THE GET DOWN SYNDROME
(Zak's) If last week's Fallout Freakout (in celebration of the sadly defunct record store and its well-loved owners) wasn't enough for you, here's round two of marathon band night. This week's madness includes my favorites, the Popular Shapes, along with Right On!, the Make-Out Choir, Bizmark, the Load Levelers, Flame Thrower, Gas Huffer, the Charming Snakes, Longtooth, and two reunions (Zeke and the Get Down Syndrome). It's all free, and if it's anything like last Thursday, it's gonna get crazy--like a good old-fashioned house party, but with a shorter line for the bathrooms. JENNIFER MAERZ

FRIDAY 2/28


SHARPSHOOTERS, DJ SPINNA, Overton Berry, DJ sipreano
(Chop Suey) The Neptunes really just want to be DJ Spinna. True, the Neptunes have everything--money, fame, fabulous lovers--but the kind of success they really desire is that which DJ Spinna possesses. DJ Spinna is a hiphop producer who works on several levels: He produces remixes for pop superstars like Mary J. Blige, George Michael, and Michael Jackson; he produces hiphop tracks and remixes for hardcore hiphop acts like De La Soul, MC Eiht, Shabaam Sahdeeq, and Pharoahe Monch; and he produces and remixes for triphop acts like Terranova, 4hero, Nightmares on Wax, and Rae & Christian. He moves effortlessly from pop to the underground, from the past to the future, from American to European, and from the streets to the lounge. And this is what the Neptunes would really like to do, but can't. CHARLES MUDEDE

EX-GIRL, THE KING COBRA, DISPLAY, VERMILION
(Crocodile) It's difficult to fell yr idols from their spit-shined pedestals of adulation--and it's because of this that I admittedly can't provide a scrupulous assessment of The King Cobra. I loved The King Cobra before I ever heard them. It all comes down to the blind faith I hold for a certain human tornado caged within the unimposing frame of a woman named Rachel Carns. Yes, I idealize her--but it's really easy to. A vital force in at least two of my favorite bands (she's 50 percent of both Kicking Giant and the Need), the majesty of Carns' claustrophobic, mechanical cadence is crippling--and serves as a perfectly erratic canvas for her balefully epic vision. The King Cobra unites Carns with Ibobuki's Betsy Kwo, a union that infuses Carns' vision with a pointed touch of the metallic. The result should more than satisfy fans of her previous output, but god knows you can't take my word for it. ZAC PENNINGTON

THE GLORYHOLES, THE PINKOS, THE HOLLOWPOINTS, AUGUST SPIES
The HollowPoints may not have won the Sound Off! finals at EMP last weekend (a shock to their gaggle of followers in the audience), but that doesn't mean the young band isn't any good. They play a blistering set of punk rock that takes you back to the days when Social Distortion was your favorite band, and a majority of your Friday night was taken up ensuring your Mohawk was straight and sturdy. But even with obvious influences bleeding into their music, they still manage to toss in enough of their own style to keep their politically driven anthems interesting. Tonight's show is a benefit for Doctors Without Borders, and with the Gloryholes and August Spies also on the bill, it's sure to satisfy what your punk-rock sweet tooth has been craving. MEGAN SELING

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, THE THERMALS
(Showbox) Just what is it about the Thermals that makes everyone's jaw drop? I wish I could tell you, but I'm too busy picking my goddamn jaw up off the floor every time I hear or see or even think of them. The music is killer, to be sure--ingeniously hooky pop; their funny, smart rants against consumption are girded by fierce volume and relentless rhythm. But in the hands of lesser beings, the songs would just be songs. What makes the Thermals apocalyptic is the Thermals themselves. Jordan Hudson, Ben Barnett, and Kathy Foster are a slamming rock band, and Hutch Harris has elevated the art of frontmannery to heretofore unknowable heights. Kinetic but unthreatening, sexy but post-sexual, loud but soft (huh?), Harris was born to it. A truly fearless performer. Yes! That's it! Fearlessness. The Thermals are fearless. God bless the fearless Thermals forever! SEAN NELSON

SATURDAY 3/1


THE RUBY DOE, THE RED LIGHT STING, FEMME FATALE
(Graceland) See preview, page 46.

RC5, THE SPITS, THE MAKE-OUT CHOIR
(Sunset) You don't always have to fashion rock 'n' roll up all fancy-like to make it entertaining. Seattle's RC5 blast garage through a firehose of '70s punk, staggering loud, proud jams around the kinda racket that makes you want every night to be the weekend and every beer to be on the house. JENNIFER MAERZ

LANTERNA
(Easy Street Records, Queen Anne) In terms of instrumental bands, Lanterna is the kind that's best described as cinematic. Each of the group's albums--1998's self-titled debut, 2001's Elm Street (my favorite), and last year's Sands--takes ambient to different levels, sometimes swelling gracefully while at other times using reverb and drone to travel to more psychedelic regions. Listening to the band's albums makes for mind-produced screenplays and other unchained daydreams, and seeing them perform live should be just as inspirational. If you like bands such as Scenic, Area, and even Sigur Rós, Lanterna are worth checking out. KATHLEEN WILSON

SUNDAY 3/2
No, I think that's just her face.

MONDAY 3/3


THE LOCUST, THE GET HUSTLE, MOVING UNITS, FAST FORWARD
(Vera Project) I can count on one hand the number of people with whom I am acquainted who do not outspokenly purport to abhor the Get Hustle. And that's just fine. Because those other five people--the five who've somehow managed to dislodge their heads from their collective asses--those people adore them. And with good reason. With former members of San Diego hardcore figureheads Heroin and Antioch Arrow, the Get Hustle's stature inevitably steams with the ripe odor of importance--but their organ-driven train-wreck soundtrack transcends its lineage. Whether you like the music or not, the Get Hustle are, simply put, the only band I've ever seen who have led me to believe I am witnessing something of direct historical relevance. The kind of mythical shows you read about in tomes to punk rock mystique. The attentive howl of vocalist Valentine's delivery, coupled with the lurching creep of Mac Mann's organ moan as the band vivisects traditional blues structures--it may not be the Locust, but who the fuck cares about the Locust anyway? ZAC PENNINGTON See also preview, page 43.

TUESDAY 3/4


NADA SURF, SONDRE LERCHE, THE PEOPLE
(Crocodile) See preview, page 46.

BLOOD BROTHERS, MILEMARKER, THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES
(Graceland) See preview, page 45, and Stranger Suggests, page 27.

LADYTRON, SIMIAN, MOUNT SIMS
(Chop Suey) A lot of these so-called "electroclash" acts remind me of the worst aspects of club culture--or hipster culture in general. I have little patience for pouty posturing, gimmicky fashion tricks, and vapid theatrics when the music sounds like the same bad shit that was already disposable in the '80s. Mount Sims border on the edge of bad, throwaway electroclash, but the problem is, even as I'm writing this, some of their songs are so stupidly catchy that they naggingly remind me that I once liked the Pet Shop Boys as much as I liked New Order (ugh). And as much as I want to tag their Ultra Sex CD as bubblegum tech pop that loses its flavor on the first bite, the truth is it sounds pretty decent blasting from a good sound system, as long as you're primed for perfectly pretentious dance music. Personally, I prefer Liverpool's Ladytron, a band that's elevated beyond the trends du jour, projecting beautifully manicured electronic pop with class and a more subtle style. Plus I love the lyrics to "Seventeen," off Light & Magic: "They only want you when you're 17. When you're 21, you're no fun," proving that everything has a shelf life, even haute club kid culture. JENNIFER MAERZ

CALEXICO, QUASI, NICOLAI DUNGER
(Showbox) Like the dusty border town the group is named after, the romantic sounds of Calexico (Joey Burns and John Convertino--also members of Tucson, Arizona's Giant Sand--along with a rotating lineup of musicians) are like pockets of time sandwiched between the past and present, equal parts swinging saloon doors and flickering neon signs. The group's dramatic instrumentals are love letters to the dry winds and Technicolor skies of the Southwestern desert, blending bright mariachi horns and Mexican guitars with desolate pedal steel, strings, accordion, and sun-parched twangs and swells. But just when Burns and Convertino seem to be chasing the ghosts from spaghetti Westerns past, sunset reveries are interrupted by Burns' downcast baritone and evocative noir ballads--short stories, really, with drugstore cowboys who "cling to the bar and disappear from sight," a French seductress who steals her lover's gold, and roads that "never lead where they're supposed to go." Calexico's latest album, Feast of Wire (Quarterstick), is decidedly gentler and more jazz-influenced than previous releases, which should bring a lovely new dimension to the group's live show. MIN LIAO

WEDNESDAY 3/5


THE DIVORCE, RAT CAT HOGAN, ANDREA MAXAND, AARON SPRINKLE
(Crocodile) You know the Divorce. They're the three-piece band whose $3 EP has set the record stores and radio playlists of Seattle ablaze. For my money, they're best experienced live, where the hyperactive interplay of guitar, bass, and vocals can be seen as well as heard. If these guys aren't stars, then there's no such thing. Meanwhile, Rat Cat Hogan, my favorite band in the history of bands, is living proof that all you need to light the way is a guitar, some drums, and true-life stories of life in the city. Add Andrea Maxand and Aaron Sprinkle and you've got yourself a brilliant rock show. SEAN NELSON

DJ CRAZE, ADAM F, MC SKIBADEE
(Chop Suey) This is a theory: I think that the art of turntablism is poorly represented on records and CDs. Despite the fact that turtablists are completely dependent on recorded material and electronic equipment to make their music, they are better live than recorded. For example, I have several mix CDs from Mixmaster Mike, which I rarely listen to, yet one of the most amazing hiphop experiences I have ever had was watching him perform live in an old, abandoned factory in Linz, Austria. The same is true for the brilliant Miami turntablist DJ Craze; he is wonderful to watch, but his CDs (which mix hiphop with drum 'n' bass) and even his mix tapes fail to recapture the pure energy that he wreaks on the 1s and 2s. Was it not jazz genius Eric Dolphy who said something like, "As soon as music enters the air it vanishes forever"? In some weird way this also applies to the art of DJ Craze, one of the masters of turntablism. CHARLES MUDEDE