Wednesday 8/31

Rene Hell, Earn, RM Francis, Harpoon Pole Vault

(Josephine) Experimental savant Rene Hell (real name Jeff Witscher) could just as easily be a secret agent—he is handsome and enigmatic, operates under a number of strange and esoteric aliases, and was a founding member of a stateside subversive cell (LA's infamous drum-and-vocals concept band Foot Village). His far-out impulses have flavored releases by Deep Jew and Roman Torment, and his own sobriquets have a spicy, pulpy, unsettling feel (Secret Abuse, Impregnable) or a psychedelic bent (Marble Sky). On second thought, maybe he's an extraterrestrial deity: The one time I saw him live, it was one of those mystifying experiences where I couldn't divine how on earth this musician was producing the sounds that he did. Hell would gently strike a plastic key on his MIDI keyboard and portals to other mesmeric realms would unfold inside in the sooty womb of the venue. JASON BAXTER

Lisa Dank, Ayron Jones and the Way, Mega Man

(Funhouse) With the whole dog incident behind us, we can return to the other Lisa Dank, the Lisa Dank who makes a very energetic brand of pop/hiphop/new wave/R&B. This Lisa Dank is best captured in a black-and-white picture taken by Thig Natural of the Physics (you must get the trio's new album, Love Is a Business). In the image, we see Lisa Dank and the producer OC Notes (you must get his new album, Secret Society—it's really up there with Shabazz Palaces' Black Up). It's winter and the two dreamers are standing close to each other on a street in Pioneer Square. Lisa Dank is in her in element. This is her city and these are her people, the people of the future. CHARLES MUDEDE

Megasapien, Explone, Boom City, the Knast

(Chop Suey) Megan Seling recently described a song by Megasapien thusly: "a fantastically frantic, pulsating pop song that explodes with huge guitar riffs, booming drums, and zaps of synthesizers that make the song sound like it's coming from the next galaxy over." Boom City is a new thing involving former members of the Lashes. This preview was cut drastically when the original headliners dropped off the bill. GRANT BRISSEY

Battle Stations, Still Flyin', Dude York, Clouds Over Moscow

(Comet) Former (sort of) Stranger intern and general miscreant Aaron Kempley (we liked to call him Unkemptley) plays guitar for Battle Stations. In keeping with Unkemptley's work ethic, Battle Stations have only two songs posted on their Bandcamp page, both of which are plodding, atonal shards of contemporary no-wave grit clad with shrill vocals that take stabs at your eardrums. Aesthetically, the band seems to be concerned with outer space and 20th-century science fiction. GRANT BRISSEY

Marcy Playground, Stag

(Tractor) What does it sound like when you cross singer Steve Mack, formerly of Undertones spin-off That Petrol Emotion, with grunge survivor Ben London of Alcohol Funnycar and alt-country act Sanford Arms? Would you believe... a power-pop band? This local quintet has already issued two EPs of streamlined and sinewy gems like "Love Her Records," sure to please Cheap Trick and Guided by Voices fans. As befits a band that posts old Raspberries footage on its blog and courts mouth-breathing fan boys who groan whenever some VH1 talking head dismisses the Knack as "one-hit wonders," Stag's latest must-have is a limited-edition colored vinyl 45, "Don't Lead with Your Heart." KURT B. REIGHLEY

Thursday 9/1

R. Stevie Moore, Tropical Ooze, Heartwarmer, Spurm

(Vera) See Stranger Suggests and Underage.

Gold Leaves, Kevin Murphy, Joseph Giant

(Crocodile) Singer/songwriter/guitarist Joseph Giant—who's worked with local groups Throw Me the Statue and Final Spins—makes easygoing, strummy folk pop. We Northwesterners have Boeing-sized hangars of the stuff, but Mr. Giant's version of it is better than most other earnest beardos'. He sings like he's harboring a perpetual cold and writes casually catchy songs that make you feel cheerily wistful. Gold Leaves—former Arthur & Yu singer/guitarist Grant Olsen—has a new album on Hardly Art, The Ornament, which tallied an apt 7.7 on Pitchfork. That bit about easygoing, strummy folk pop mentioned above also applies here. Gold Leaves do that thing with utmost skill, bolstered by Jason Quever's Mellotron and cello. There's a smooth, melancholy, Hazlewoody vibe that's like superfood to many in this region (by the way, "Endless Dope" is an instant classic). Rounding out the bill is the Moondoggies' Kevin Murphy, who guitared and sang on a couple of Ornament songs. DAVE SEGAL

Blink-182, My Chemical Romance, Rancid

(White River Amphitheatre) Six or seven years ago, before Blink-182 went on their indefinite hiatus, I would've thought it ridiculous for the immature pop-punk stars of the mid-'90s to tour with My Chemical Romance, the utterly serious emo rockers of the early 2000s. What do they have to offer each other? One is drenched in asexual, gothic dramatics, while the other is dick-joke-filled jock rock for the MTV generation. But in 2011, after hearing Blink-182's new material (their album Neighborhoods will be released in September), the reunited band is focusing less on writing songs about being sarcastic and (sometimes hilariously) crude dudes and instead taking cues from guitarist Tom DeLonge's "more mature" (read: they use relay pedals) project Angels & Airwaves. Blink's new vibe might actually pair nicely with My Chemical Romance's Queen-wannabe anthems, but it'll likely push away anyone who still loves to blast Dude Ranch. MEGAN SELING

Grudge Rock: Helms Alee vs. Akimbo

(Re-bar) Have you been to Grudge Rock yet? The monthly Family Feud–style rock 'n' roll game show, with live sets by each of the competing bands? If you haven't, this one would be the perfect one to whet thy whistle on—a real-deal "grudge" match, as Akimbo and Helms Alee have gone toe-to-toe before, and only the Helms emerged victorious. Akimbo swore revenge, but both bands were too busy touring. Now Seattle's Akimbo will face off once more with Helms Alee. Booker and host Jake Stratton says, "There's some serious shit-talking going on between these two bands." I say if either band competes as hard as they play, it'll be entertaining as holy hell. KELLY O

Friday 9/2

Peaches, Ononos, Secret Shoppers, Glitterbang, DJ Colby B

(Neumos) See Data Breaker and Homosexual Agenda.

DJ Barletta, Kids at the Bar, DJ Julia, DJ BlC, DJ Lifeguard

(Chop Suey) See Data Breaker.

Young Jeezy, Avatar Young Blaze

(Showbox at the Market) See My Philosophy.

Saturday 9/3


(Seattle Center) See pullout and Stranger Suggests.

Jucifer, Plaster, Shrouded Veils, Vultures 2012, Serial Hawk

(El Corazón) Last night I had a dream that all of my belongings were packed up in a school bus that I was driving around. There was snow on the road and while going down a hill, I started sliding and crashed the thing into a snow bank, so I just decided to live there. Maybe it's because I have Jucifer—the nomadic husband-and-wife sludge-metal duo who are constantly touring in their RV—on the brain. Live, they play with an obscene number of amps and level of volume. GRANT BRISSEY

Grenades, Sloths, Bitches Crystal

(Josephine) Portland's Sloths are relentless and brutal. They're not here to entertain; they're here to scare the living shit out of you. The song "Seasonal Depression" screams into your ear for nearly six minutes. It claws through your skull with spasms of guitars, throbbing bass, and gnarly vocals. Then it goes into an early-Metallica-inspired breakdown before building up to the moment we've all experienced, the moment where we can't take another second of the goddamn gray and we want to break everything in sight. Their song "Cabin by a Lake" is just as disturbing. It might sound like a nice place to visit, but Sloths' cabin is the kind of spot in which you'd end up being shredded into a hundred pieces by a psycho killer. MEGAN SELING

Bare Wires, Watch It Sparkle, Ziskis, the Connerys

(Funhouse) A bunch of gray-haired blues-rock dudes from Idaho, Bare Wires have played the Moscow Idaho Motorcycle Classic, the Moscow Idaho Renaissance Fair, and... what? Wrong Bare Wires? Sorry. You'll have to excuse me—every band on this bill seems like they've come from another time. Not in a bad way, but they all sound familiar. The other Bare Wires are a trio of longhairs from San Francisco who play a sunnier, poppier version of the blue, groovy, fuzzy sounds of T. Rex. Seattle's Watch It Sparkle play fun, thrashy, trashy garage rock. The weirdest-sounding band on the bill is Ziskis, who descend from Sebadoh and the fuzzy, scratchy bands of '90s-era Kill Rock Stars. They're opening, but they may be the closest thing to an original sound on the bill. BRENDAN KILEY

The Family Curse, the Nocturnes, Crystal Hell Pool, Brahman Strings

(Highline) The Nocturnes began in New Zealand as a duo spearheaded by Emma Ruth Rundle, the newish guitarist for post-rock luminaries Red Sparowes. After relocating to LA, the project became the hushed secret of Southern California's more esoteric music circles, until Rundle's recruitment into the comparatively high-profile Sparowes helped expose new audiences to her ethereal, restrained, and sorrowfully sublime songs. Now expanded from a two-piece to a quartet, the Nocturnes create a sound that's less about the stripped-down explorations of somber folk music of their past work and more about creating big looming washes of guitar chords and smoky vocal harmonies. Their new album, Aokigahara, has the soothing reverberations of a lullaby amplified in a cathedral, sounding simultaneously sleepy and holy. BRIAN COOK

Sunday 9/4


(Seattle Center) See pullout.

Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Keri Hilson, Far East Movement, Lloyd

(White River Amphitheatre) In case you haven't noticed, Lil Wayne isn't little anymore. In 1991 in New Orleans, when he joined Cash Money Records as half of duo the B.G.'z (Baby Gangstaz) at the age of 9, sure, he was still "lil." But now, at 28, Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. has already gone multiplatinum, scored a Grammy for best rap album with Tha Carter III, gone gold with Rebirth, and toured the world over. Lil Wayne is funnier than shit, as musical as Charlie Parker, prolific as a motherfucker, and unafraid to fail. He's also starred in a handful of films, been on television, fathered several kids, and recently told a radio station that he would retire at age 35. And he's spent time in prison on gun charges. It's just fair to say he's not "lil" anymore. KELLY O

Symphony Untuxed: Seattle Symphony Musicians and Friends

(Bagley Wright Theater) This is the first time Seattle Symphony has ever played at Bumbershoot, but that is not why you should run, not walk, to this event. You should go because it features hot young French conductor Ludovic Morlot, who's taking over Seattle Symphony starting in September. And the bill (this is why he is hot, because he makes exciting music well) features sheer awesomeness, including: Tom Johnson's Failing: A Very Difficult Piece for Solo String Bass, in which bassist Joseph Kaufman will carry on a conversation with the audience while he plays; a brand-new piece for electric bassoon, written and performed by orchestra principal bassoon Seth Krimsky; and selections from Vivaldi's Double Violin Concerto in A minor, in which Morlot himself will perform. Sounds like a man who knows how to put on a show. Let it begin. JEN GRAVES

Special O.P.S. (featuring Monktail Creative Music Concern)

(Faire) You do not get to know what is going to happen in advance—it is called Special O.P.S. Secret! The musicians of Special O.P.S., though, also do not know what it is that they are going to do. This is the "free improvisation commando unit replete with dark regalia, sonic hand grenades, and a warped sense of humor," founded as a guerrilla offshoot of Seattle's Monktail Music Concern on September 12, 2001. Sunday night surprises at the venue with the loveliest bartender this side of the Mississippi. JEN GRAVES

Monday 9/5


(Seattle Center) See pullout.

400 Blows, Lozen, White Jazz

(Funhouse) 400 Blows' latest, Sickness and Health, is the first thing we've heard from the band in forever (stream it right now at For a band that once prided itself as "anti-melody," there's some stuff on here that sounds suspiciously melody-like. JUST SAYIN'. Frontman Skot's vocals don't ring as dementedly as they did on Black Rainbow, but, really, who cares? Last time I saw these dudes live, it was mind blowing, and it probably will be this time around, too. Pretty sure the guitar player just got back from touring in Big Business. GRANT BRISSEY

Nashville Pussy, the Spittin' Cobras, Jamie Nova & the Whiskey Soaked Rebellion, Guns of Nevada, White Trash WhipLash

(El Corazón) This bill wants to get you liquored and sexed up in the quickest, most no-bullshit manner possible. Nashville Pussy—named after a line from Ted Nugent's ribald intro to "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang"—proudly push lowbrow, lubricious hard rock for pedal-to-the-metal high times. They have an AC/DC-ish song called "Keep on Fuckin'," which is as forthright and basic as a missionary-position bonk and a perfect encapsulation of their big-boobed boogie rock. Seattle's the Spittin' Cobras rev it up even faster and with less cartoonish, single-entendre'd lyricism than the headliners. The Cobras' attack slithers somewhere between Dwarves' fuck-it-all punk blur and Motörhead's metallic carpet-bombing. It's all linear and slamming as hell. DAVE SEGAL

Tuesday 9/6

Fleet Foxes, the Walkmen

(Paramount) See preview.

Drum & Bass Tuesdays: The Bassinvaders, Jason Curtis vs. Stylus, Lunchmoney

(Baltic Room) See Data Breaker.

Bring Me the Horizon, Parkway Drive, Architects, Deez Nuts, Of Legends

(Showbox Sodo) The formulaic mallcore breakdowns of the UK's hottest rising metalcore heartthrobs Bring Me the Horizon are liable to provoke uncontrollable laughter in seasoned metal fans. That BMTH vocalist Oliver Sykes was charged with simple assault for pissing on a fan after a show just adds to the band's ridiculousness (the charges were later dropped). But as cheesy as all this is, it's what the kids want: gimmicky 808 drops every three seconds, Auto-Tuned screams, the whole shebang of shittiness. As much as I would love to rag on the kids, the band, and their "hardcore" posturing, it just makes me feel old, out of touch, and sad. Let the kids have what they want, even if it just plain sucks. Parkway Drive add a tad bit of musical legitimacy to the lineup, throwing in some by-the-books melodic metalcore straight from Australia. KEVIN DIERS