No matter what kind of music you make, if you've played more than five gigs in this town you've probably felt that dirty, why am I playing this fucking dive feeling.

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You might be tucked in a corner, strumming a guitar in a cafe while the insolent cash register repeatedly rings, or onstage, glaring at a mostly empty beer-glazed floor; you realize that the booker (and maybe most of the small crowd) cares nothing about your music: It's as if some ghostly, gleeful old creep, maybe the Ghost of Bad Gigs Past, has furtively christened you, your bandmates, and your gear with the phantom ejaculate of despair. You feel filthy and just want to get the hell home.

Makers of experimental music, due to their refusal to make what most accept as "music," endure this fate more frequently than their mainstream counterparts. Thus the appearance of any space that consistently welcomes defiant, sonically obstreperous, weird, and aurally demanding sound art inevitably arouses optimism among musicians and fans of the avant.

Since opening in January, the Chapel Performance Space in Wallingford's Good Shepherd Center has justified the good feelings. The room has lush, inviting acoustics. The organizer, Steve Peters of the Nonsequitur Foundation, is a sound artist who understands the primacy of listening over commercial imperatives.

To celebrate, Nonsequitur organized a Festival of Wayward Music, starting with a "piano christening" (Fri July 20, 8 pm) that includes luminaries Wayne Horvitz, Julie Ives, and Cristina Valdes. The Saturday marathon concert runs from noon to 10:00 p.m. and features a stellar cast of Seattle experimentalists such as Climax Golden Twins, trombonist Stuart Dempster, Bill Horist, Bob Rees, Susie Kozawa, and many others in 15- to 20-minute sets. Don't miss it.

The Festival of Wayward Music runs Fri July 20 and Sat July 21 (fourth-floor Chapel Performance Space, Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N), various times, free.

Concerts

THURSDAY JULY 19

GRETA MATASSA QUINTET
For those who love jazz but live with an early bedtime, this installment of the downtown Out to Lunch series is a treat. Matassa sings blues, jazz, and pop standards with sass and arch wit. With guest vibraphonist Susan Pascal, who is not only a succinct soloist but a sensitive accompanist too. Rainier Square, 1301 Fifth Ave, noon—1:30 pm, free.

CATALYST
I wanted more radical, catalyzing action from this sound-and-video installation by Paul Rucker. The most enticing part of this pocket exhibition? Rucker's drawings: Exaggerated cascades of notes stipple musical scores with impossible (for now) music. Rucker's brazen reimagination of traditional notation places him in the lineage of composer (and sometime graphic designer) Cornelius Cardew (1936—1981), creator of Treatise, the greatest graphic score of the 20th century. Catalyst concludes Friday, August 3. Jack Straw Productions, 4261 Roosevelt Way NE, 634-0919, 10 am—6 pm, free.

FRIDAY JULY 20

DEAN MOORE & AMY DENIO
Moore, whose unadorned solo improvisations on multiple racks of percussion can teeter deliciously at the edge of audibility, shares the stage with saxophonist/singer/composer Amy Denio. Expect solos and duos on assorted instruments. Moore deploys gongs, chimes, cymbals, and bells while Denio can use her voice, accordion, or whatever else in her arsenal to bend the walls in the room. Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave, 322-1533, 8 pm, free but donations accepted.

AHLEUCHATISTAS
Named after the Charlie Parker tune "Ah-Leu-Cha," this mathcore guitar-bass-drums trio is so damn manic that it's hard to discern composed sections from improvised interjections. It's prog rock for the punk-rock set: complex arrangements, ferociously aggressive instrumentals, and nary a pixie nor a particle of cosmic love in sight. Rendezvous, 2322 Second Ave, 441-5823, 10:30 pm, $5.

SATURDAY JULY 21

CAMP NIRVANA
For the students playing this concert, Nirvana means the end of summer camp with this culminating concert, not Cobain & Co. Various student string-quartet ensembles perform music by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Wolf, Smetana, Ives, and Shostakovich. Like almost everyone else who grubbed around in Olympia in the late 1980s, I too have a Kurt Cobain story, but that seems so long ago... Bastyr University Chapel, 14500 Juanita Drive NE, Kenmore, 366-1211, 1 pm, $5/$15 suggested donation.

Support The Stranger

HOSKIN/MILFORD/CUDABACK
Multi-reedman Paul Hoskin continues his return to the improvised music scene with a trio that includes drummer Ethan Cudaback and longtime musical compadre David "Skip" Milford. Hoskin describes this trio as "devoted to free improvisation: combustible forms and radical parameters." Count on Hoskin to lead the way with gale-force surges of sound on baritone saxophone and contrabass clarinet. Collins Pub, 526 Second Ave, 623-1016, 8 pm, $5—$15 sliding-scale donation.

SUNDAY JULY 22

NORTHWEST MAHLER FESTIVAL
Conductor Geoffrey Simon leads the Northwest Mahler Festival Orchestra and soloist Kathryn Weld in Gustav Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer. Also on the program: Dvorák's Symphony No. 8 and Duke Ellington's tone poem Harlem. Shorecrest Performing Arts Center, 15343 25th Ave NE, Shoreline, 800-838-3006, 7 pm, $15/$18.