This Saturday, September 13, The Stranger and the Moore Theatre host the annual Genius Awards party, this year featuring Spokane's one-man hiphop thrift shop James Pants in his debut appearance with a live band, L.A. laptop dandy and Monome magician Daedelus, and Seattle's own Dyme Def and Emerald City Soul Club. It is not to be missed.

There is no Stranger Genius Award for music, but if there were, last Sunday's Dead Science show at Neumos, along with the band's recently released Villainaire, would make a strong case for nominating the band for such a prize. The album is a high achievement, already thoroughly detailed in these pages, and their performance was every bit the spectacle it deserved.

For their set, the Dead Science were joined onstage by Past Lives' Morgan Henderson on keys, a harpist, and full string and horn sections. Jherek Bischoff switched between upright and electric bass. Sam Mickens crooned and played guitar, curling his left leg up off the ground, cranelike, to the beat. Drummer Nick Tamburro flailed and pounded wildly but always precisely in time, the culmination of a night full of impressive drummers (more on those later). With the additional musicians, the songs of Villainaire sounded as true to the album's carefully crafted moods as possible. "Make Mine Marvel" and "Sword Cane" both sounded especially epic live, the former's chorus almost too big for Neumos' room, the latter's line, "last night's not fully revealed itself yet" sounding portentous and damning.

While the Dead Science were the obvious highlight, the whole bill would be worth shortlisting for this column's imaginary award. Openers Talbot Tagora have significantly improved even in just the last few months, sounding tighter and more aggressive than ever, especially on drums, and looking totally confident and comfortable up on the Neumos stage. I've made a case for their reverby, mumbling vocals before, but now I think it may be time for the band to speak up a bit; they're just a slight voice change away from having totally grown into their sound (maybe shortlist them for next year). Past Lives, on the other hand, are fully formed and on fucking fire. Mark Gajadhar's athletic drumming dominates (and he's now offering lessons), Henderson's rhythms wobble like the little walking dance he does onstage, and Jordan Blilie and Devon Welch are magnetic forces on vocals and guitar respectively. Cop their Strange Symmetry EP out now on Suicide Squeeze.

Finally, rounding out the imaginary award shortlist are adorably book-smart indie rockers Throw Me the Statue, the brain/gear trust behind Foscil/Truckasauras (with a nod to Fourthcity in general), the techno champions at Decibel, and Sabzi and his MC partners in Blue Scholars and Common Market. (The real Genius Awards are awarded after months spent narrowing down the selections, whereas this comes off the top of my head; forgive me if I've neglected anyone.) recommended

egrandy@thestranger.com