STEVE TURNER, CHARLES LEO GEBHARDT IV, SYCAMORE SMITH, DORTHY FIX, NIC GARCIA
(Funhouse) Michigan's Upper Peninsula hasn't changed much since its 19th-century mining boom times—it's still a vast, sparsely populated wilderness, so the college town of Marquette is like Paris up there, a relative hotbed of art and action. That's where Sycamore Smith hails from, and for well over a decade he's held forth as the U.P.'s prime musical export, as a member of the scruffy pop-punk machine the Muldoons and solo. With his rough-hewn folk-guitar strum, slippery melodies, and tongue-tying Dadaist wordplay, Smith comes across like a hillbilly Robyn Hitchcock. He's taking his cracked one-man vaudeville revue on the road, so anyone with a penchant for kazoo abuse and Gilded Age detail should make the scene at the Funhouse, where Smith will appear alongside fellow ex-punks Steve Turner and Charles Leo Gebhardt IV. This night should prove a peculiar hootenanny indeed. FRED BELDIN
UPWELL, NEON NIGHTS, ALL TIME HIGH, WITH A BULLET
(Comet Tavern) Neon Nights play all-out, full-bore rock with penetrating AC/DC riffage that makes you want to race 18-wheelers. Their song "Bleed for Rock and Roll" is fast, tight, and demolishing, summoning the spirit of Lemmy, who smiles upon the proceedings. One-named singer Lou soaks his scream in oil and lights it, perfect within the context of their wrecking ball. There's a pause, his growl cracks, "Go!" and tread is left in the heat of the asphalt. Rounding out the trio is Buzzard on bass and a drummer called the Spanish Hulk. Neon Nights will kick you in the teeth and drop your truck into a gear you never knew it had. They could very well save you. Let them. TRENT MOORMAN
THE EGO & THE ORACLE
(CHAC) See preview.
LIGHTNING BOLT, BUG SIZED MIND, A PACK OF WOLVES, TEETH & HAIR, SHEARING PINX
(Vera Project) See Fucking in the Streets.
SING SING: ANDREW W.K., FLOSSTRADAMUS, FOURCOLORZACK, PRETTY TITTY
(Chop Suey) See Fucking in the Streets.
ROBYN HITCHCOCK & THE VENUS 3, SEAN NELSON & HIS MORTAL ENEMIES, JOHANNA KUNIN
(Crocodile Cafe) You could be excused for assuming that Robyn Hitchcock is a Seattleite—between his frequent visits to the Emerald City, a backing band that consists of Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, and Bill Rieflin, and one of the greatest odes to a regional pseudo-city ever written ("Viva Sea-Tac"), he has a local pedigree that goes deeper than most musicians who actually call this city home. You cannot, on the other hand, be excused for missing another of his outstanding performances. Part surreal commentary and 100 percent musical brilliance, Hitchcock's shows are among the rare live performances that actually eclipse the recorded experience. And the chance to watch four supremely talented musical powers combine forces on one stage is priceless. Viva Sea-Tac! BARBARA MITCHELL
PHO BANG!, FLESHTONE, DJ BABY J, THE COCONUT COOLOUTS, URSULA & THE ONONOS
(El Corazón, late) Aye carumba! The first Pho Bang! in almost TWO years! There's that old saying that you can never get enough of a good thing. Bullshit—back when the Bang was every week, it WAS almost too much—I think I almost killed myself going each and every Thursday (Friday morning Bang-overs, yow!). The night was so freakishly out-of-control, so consistently and absolutely fun—the filthy fantastic drag, the live music, the drunken Baby J dance party at the end—truly unlike any other night this sleepy town has ever known. This edition promises to be especially koo-koo-crazy, because there'll be filmmakers in the house—Ursula Android and Jackie Hell start filming a feature-length film next month, and tonight's attendees can get on the list to be extras. Pho Bang! is a magical mess that only happens a couple times a year. Don't miss this one. KELLY O
THE EGO & THE ORACLE
(CHAC) See preview.
FITZ OF DEPRESSION, STEEL TIGERS OF DEATH, THE PARTING GIFTS, PAPER DOLLS
(Funhouse) Effectively mixing comedy and rock is trickier than you think. Too much of the former and you wind up with GWAR or Green Jelly; alternately, if you scrimp on the gags, the occasional gut-buster will just leave fans scratching their heads. But punk-metal quartet Steel Tigers of Death have struck the perfect balance. They liven up their shows with ever-changing matching ensembles (ugly sweaters one show, matching tennis ensembles the next) and hilarious patter. And when it comes time to unleash whippet-quick, blistering originals like "Sea Demon" and "Target: Cockpuncher," the boys are deadly serious. Serious like a water balloon. KURT B. REIGHLEY
THE BLAKES, THE WILLOWZ, SHIM
(Sunset Tavern) As L.A. freak-magnet Arthur magazine dismounts its steed and hangs up its golden helmet for the last time, fallout from its demise must be given proper exposure elsewhere. Hailing from the unlikely outpost of Anaheim, making a fuzzed-out lysergic racket even in their mellower moments, the Willowz are the kind of square-peg band that would fit perfectly in Arthur's, um, round hole. Lead by singer/guitarist Richie Follin and bassist/singer Jessica Reynoza, the Willowz have been dipping their collective ladle into the Kool-Aid for a few years now, recording albums for Dim Mak and Sympathy for the Record Industry and appearing on the soundtracks of the last two Michel Gondry films (Gondry even directed a video for the band). From sun-blinded, pastoral acid folk to overloaded sludge-puppy blooze-rawk, these guys deserve ink no matter where it's coming from. JONATHAN ZWICKEL
JOHN VANDERSLICE, ST VINCENT
(Triple Door) It's a tribute to the music industry's unpredictable nature—not to mention the eccentric personalities of the artists involved—that off-kilter Bay Area singer/songwriter John Vanderslice has gone from analog-recording renegade to a veritable elder statesman of indie rock. That he has managed to do just that by playing to his quirky strengths rather than suppressing them could be construed as a minor miracle, or at least proof positive that, in true Kevin Costner/Field of Dreams "If you build it, they will come" fashion, sticking to your guns actually works. If you haven't picked up a copy of J. V.'s latest masterpiece, "Pixel Revolt," you're missing out. The man has outdone himself this time around, creating an album that's as weirdly affecting as it is oddly poppy, in the most eccentric and endearing way possible. BARBARA MITCHELL
(War Room) See Stranger Suggests.
PERSEPHONE'S BEES, LUSHY, DJ CHRISPO & TANGERINE TONIC, DJ MAMMA CASSEROLE
(Chop Suey) The fact that Persephone's Bees has sold songs to Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney hasn't deterred me from making "Nice Day" the opening track on almost every mix CD I make for a cute boy. Their swingin' lounge just lends itself to so many different activities: driving, shaking up dirty martinis, making out.... Plus USSR-born singer Angelina Moysov has this sexy Soviet accent that reminds me, somehow, of Nico. Citing Rachmaninov, Bukowski, ice-skating, and "the smell of air back home" as influences, the Oakland band's a big hit in the Bay Area, where SF Weekly named them Best Pop in 2001. Don't call 'em sellouts; give those corporate marketers some credit for picking up on good shit. MAYA KROTH
THE PRAYERS, MINT CHICKS, ROYAL BEAR
(Comet Tavern) With Blink-182 and Jewel as its biggest exports, San Diego's not exactly known as a hotbed for good indie pop. Perhaps it should be. The Prayers materialized from members of noise-punk outfit Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower after that band bit the dust. Musically, it's like these guys went in for an Eternal Sunshine—style brain erasing and emerged with British accents and stacks of '60s vinyl tucked under their scrawny, leather-jacketed arms. With garagey guitars, fizzy piano melodies, and the occasional four-part harmony, the Prayers' reference points range from early Beatles and Beach Boys to the Pixies and Spoon—and not a trace of Plot. For pop fans, anyway, that's a good thing. MAYA KROTH
APPLESEED CAST, THE LIFE AND TIMES, COHO
(Crocodile) Appleseed Cast's albums are full of dynamic and beautifully moody music that always brings the perfect amount of comfort to a dreary afternoon or a pretty energy to more optimistic moments. Live, unfortunately, the band neglects to bring much at all (except for maybe their beards). They're fine musicians, their songs sound sharp, but the last time they tried to rock the Crocodile, they forgot to bring the, well, rock. Their songs lacked any of the happy accidents a live setting can supply and their set lacked much life at all. It's not a bad show, it's just that you could get pretty much the same vibe in the comfort of your own home with a few of their discs on shuffle. MEGAN SELING
(Tractor) See preview.
THE PONYS, DEERHUNTER, THE GIRLS
(Neumo's) See preview.
RICHARD BUCKNER, SIX PARTS SEVEN, J. TILLMAN
(Crocodile Cafe) Cancer and Delirium isn't exactly the most catchy or sexy album title, but with material this stark, beautiful, and compelling, it doesn't matter. Local singer/songwriter J. Tillman has once again managed to craft some of the most beguiling, depressing-yet-uplifting material you're likely to encounter. If you're a fan of fellow slow-core, twangst-ridden folkies like Jesse Sykes and Sera Cahoone, you'll have no problem clearing space in your CD rack for Tillman's latest endeavor. If this is your first time coming into contact with his sparse, breathy, and breathtaking music, all the better. Like a good wine, Tillman (young enough to occupy a prime seat at the Cha Cha, but too much of an old soul to actually darken its door) merely gets better with time. BARBARA MITCHELL
WHITEY, THE DIVORCE, ROMANCE, PRETTY TITTY
(Chop Suey) Misanthropic British musician Nathan J. Whitey—just Whitey if you're nasty—mixes restrained riffing and morose vocals with mechanical, dance-ready rhythms. His forays from the studio to the stage to the discotheque include several singles, a re-edit of his track "Leave Them All Behind" on the Glimmers' DJ Kicks compilation, 2005's full-length The Light at the End of the Tunnel Is a Train, and remixes for Bloc Party, Chromeo, Soulwax, Cut Copy, and Princess Superstar. His sophomore album, Great Shakes, is due out in October. Live, he fleshes out his "sort-of solo project" with a local quartet. Romance tug at the same dark disco heartstrings as Whitey, only at higher BPMs, and Pretty Titty approaches rock and dance music with a similarly omnivorous appetite. ERIC GRANDY
(Neumo's) See Stranger Suggests.
JESUS MAKES THE SHOTGUN SOUND, HOLY CURTAIN
(Artworks) One of the forefront bands in a tremendously tight-knit and fertile young scene centered in L.A. County's Inland Empire, Jesus Makes the Shotgun Sound make music that exists on the perpetual frontier of maximum rock epicness. Hosting three guitarists and vocals from nearly all members, JMTSS emit the impression of one hulking musical organism, adept at both Morricone/OK Computer—style grandeur and the sort of skin-crawling psychedelic undercurrents that only the City of Angels can produce. Tourmates and fellow I.E. scenemakers Holy Curtain cut a more arch row. They deliver rhythmically palpitating art punk overlayed with a deeply wine-stained, Nick Cave—esque sensibility. A tiny capsule of what their vibrant, growing scene has to offer, these dudes should bring the drama in spades. SAM MICKENS