DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN
(Paramount) These two shows (tonight and tomorrow night) are a touring road show with part of the cast of D. A. Pennebaker's excellent documentary from last year, featuring the musicians and music from the soundtrack to the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. With more spinoffs than Norman Lear's '70s sitcoms, the powerful Appalachian mountain soundtrack that gave the Coen Brothers' film its heart has sparked a renewed and seemingly endless interest in raw vernacular music. This has led to beautiful soundtracks to mediocre films, such as Songcatcher (of which the only bright spot is a porch-singing appearance by Iris DeMent), and to attention being shed on some gifted and overlooked musicians. This weekend's shows will feature country music's silver-voiced queen of longing and loss Emmylou Harris, progressive bluegrass virtuosos Norman and Nancy Blake, and mainstream country star Patty Loveless, who has returned to her origins with stunning results on her latest album, Mountain Soul. NATE LIPPENS
PHO BANG! W/TRACY + THE PLASTICS, URSULA & THE ANDROID, JACKIE & THE CONTROL TOPS
(Re-bar) What better way is there to celebrate Valentine's Day than with the song-and-patter massacre of Pho Bang? And who better to say "Men who won't fuck me are cowards" with than hostesses Ursula Android and Jackie Hell? As a kind of post-apocalyptic Burns and Allen with booze wet on their lips and a Frogs song in their dark little hearts, Jackie and Ursula make cabaret seem wild with possibility and desperate living. The intimate environs of the Re-bar should be the perfect venue to witness their unholy vaudeville. Both will perform with their bands, Jackie with her Control Tops and Ursula with her Androids, distilling garage rock down to its oily concreted essence. Headliners Tracy + the Plastics are conceptual art-rock gone horribly right. Tracy fronts the virtual band members, who are projected onscreen behind her with new-wave edginess and riot grrrl brattiness that compresses the best elements of Miranda July, Julie Ruin, and the wild women of mid-'80s Giorno Poetry Systems recordings for a visual and aural experience that is as fun as it is smart. NATE LIPPENS
INDIE ROCK VALENTINE II: THE METAL YEARS
(Crocodile) Last Valentine's Day the Crocodile threw a romantic little soiree for loopy lovers, with the sweet sounds of the Cock-Ups, S, and Sarah Dougher providing a mushy soundtrack. This year it's all about the jagged, the loud, and the discontented angry heart as powerhouse bands the Ruby Doe, the Bronze, Bearskin Rugburn, and the New Mexicans kick Hallmark card sentiment until it's black and blue. KATHLEEN WILSON
FESTIVAL SUNDIATA NW HIPHOP SHOWCASE: CANDIDT, SPINNOVATORS, COOL NUTZ, BYRDIE, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
(EMP) See preview this issue.
(Moore) See preview this issue.
THE CATHETERS, THE DARK PLACES, THE HUNCHES
(Sunset Tavern) Nowadays, most of what passes for punk in Seattle is anything but. Just about everyone's got a big fat shtick and a will to be recognized that stymies the vibrancy and insurgent fuck-all spontaneity essential to any good punk-rock band. The Catheters, an exception to that rule, obviously know punk rock. It's apparent the moment frontman Brian Standeford begins to scream gorgeous, inaudible nonsense into his microphone and hurl his slight frame about whatever stage the band takes. It's further evidenced in the bent-up, killer guitar work of Derek Mason (the stuff of the Stooges and Black Sabbath), the breakneck drumming of Davey Brozowski, and the sexy, propulsive bass lines that the band's newest member, Leo Gebhart, plays. Call the Catheters Mudhoney's child; they're certainly among a small handful of punk bands in Seattle that actually matter. And their upcoming (March 5) Sub Pop release, Static Delusions and Stone-Still Days, is further proof. JEFF DeROCHE
(Graceland) Surf-rock pioneer Dick Dale fronted the Deltones in the 1950s, which is credited as the first ever surf-rock band. His reverb-heavy instrumental music earned him a notable fan base during the '60s (not to mention a piece of rock history with his name on it), and then he got sick and sort of gave it all up until the '80s. Dale is still around, making records and touring (40-plus years later). That's some serious shit, yo. If you like the instrumental surf rock, go check out the man who made your people everything they is. Damn, Dick Dale. Damn. JEFF DeROCHE
ALCHEMY: DJ RAP, ZACHARIA, NITSUJ, DJ SEVEN, DAVE ZAM, KASHUN, JIMMY HOFFA
(Arena) DJ Rap was born in Singapore and spent much of her early life jet-setting because her father is a manager of luxury hotels around the world. Eventually landing in London, she worked her way up in the clubs, from dancing to DJing to producing. In the process she founded two seminal labels, Proper Talent and Low Key. In '99 she released the celebrated Learning Curve, which popularized jungle--that's a pun: The album made jungle popular to a wider audience, and was itself something of a "pop jungle"--which irritated the purists who thought she was selling out. They were right to a degree, as the album is definitely mediocre, but she wasn't compromising her vision: She was taking it back to her childhood world of worldwide success and luxury, rather than bothering with all that grimy underground nonsense. She's now an immensely successful DJ, and her subsequent releases, Brave New World in 2000 and especially last year's Vol 1--Propa Classics, take a turn back to the brilliant, smooth, smart styles she pioneered. What a romance. BRIAN GOEDDE
DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN
(Paramount) See Thurs 2/14 listing.
WAXWING, MINUS THE BEAR, SMOKERS DIE YOUNGER
(Old Fire House) Remember how, at first, you thought that any band with the name Modest Mouse couldn't do nothin' but get outta yo face. Well look at you now--you don't go a week without having that dream where you and Jeremiah are at REI shopping for camping gear. (Have you gotten his high-performance Capilene bottoms off before the alarm sounds yet?) The same thing is going to happen with Minus the Bear. The name certainly threw you. Minus the huh? A bear? How do you minus a big ole man-eater? I'm not sure, but judging from the song titles (e.g., "Hey, Wanna Throw Up? Get Me Naked") on these musicians' debut release, the name is a joke. But they have the right to joke when their recent EP, This Is What I Know About Being Gigantic, is a torrid blend of teeth-gritting jams done with ferocious talent. Founded on David Knudson's (Botch) bright, angular guitar pickings, it's safely stamped as math rock, though it also includes electronic whispers and gurgles. Other band connections are singer Jake Snider from Sharks Keep Moving, and drummer Erin Tate from Kill Sadie. Best of all, you beered-up teens are welcome, along with your newborn daughter AND your grandpa, because this show is for all ages. JOSH UHLIR
POST-VALENTINE'S BALL W/PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES, VISQUEEN, THE RED LIGHT STING, DJ DANN GALLUCCI
(Graceland) Like Green Day, only better. Or the Buzzcocks, only young and sweet. What one takes from Visqueen is how adorable this band both behaves and sounds on stage, sometimes even in that order. Frontwoman Rachel Flotard is a good guitarist and a delightful songwriter. The singer's scratchy, youthful voice is treated by sugary harmonies from former Fastbacks bassist/singer Kim Warnick, and the resultant sound is so buoyant, palatable, and energetic, you'd have to be pretty damned crusty to resist swooning. JEFF DeROCHE
COOKIE, VISQUEEN, THE LASHES
(Theatre Off Jackson) This is the first show that the Vera Project will be putting on in its new space--the fancy, immaculate, and very grown-up Theatre Off Jackson. What a bizarre place to put on all-ages rock shows. Cookie's Sabrina Rockarena will seem so trashy and lurid, belting out her overwrought vocals in such a clean and sober setting. The Lashes, whose primary claim to fame at this point is a very public love of The Stranger's Kathleen Wilson (not to mention some pretty good power pop), will seem so inarticulate in the space that just last year housed Chay Yew's play Porcelain. Visqueen (see Saturday 2/16) will seem so pedestrian and a-theatrical. Get used to it, I guess. This is where the shit's going to be happening for the kids from now on. It's actually a very cool space for live theater, so who knows? JEFF DeROCHE
THE TURN-ONS, VOYAGER ONE, THE STRATFORD 4
(Crocodile) Though the band culls half its members from our local music scene (guitarist Jake Hosek and drummer Andrea Caturegli), the Stratford 4 resides in Los Angeles. Led by guitarist/vocalist Chris Streng (who played with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's Rob Turner and Pete Hayes in a band called Wave before they all left San Francisco), the Stratford 4 obviously shares influences with BRMC, as strains of My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain can be found running throughout the band's debut CD, The Revolt Against Tired Noises (out on Jet Set Records). Alternately hypnotic and psychedelic, the Stratford 4's sound will mesh seamlessly with the like-minded styles of the Turn-Ons, whose film show is nothing short of mesmerizing, and Voyager One. KATHLEEN WILSON
NAIL SOUP BLUES BAND, LEANNE WILKINS, AARON SEMER
(Ballard Firehouse) Like Michigan transplant Rosie Thomas, 25-year-old Akron, Ohio native Aaron Semer is blessing Seattle with his presence before catapulting to mega-fame. And like Thomas, one listen to his upcoming debut (to be released this spring on Mike Toschi's Global Seepej Records) will convince you that he is a major, multifaceted, and eccentric talent. While Thomas has been a captivating, perfect performer since her first local appearances, Semer's live act still needs polishing. But even now a listener feels as if these songs have always been there, waiting for someone to discover them. Imagine X's John Doe telling tales of office-tower drudgery and friends disappearing into addiction, "getting crushed by the garbage man" crossed with the hiphop-flavored drollery of Beck: "We were at a party, listening to rock and roll/drinking alcohol, and smoking marijuana cigarettes," he narrates on one irresistible chorus. Semer's Ween-like humor and deeply felt songs make him a strange fit for the Firehouse, but offer an early (9 pm!) chance to check out this longstanding venue without witnessing the cringe-fest of an oldies reunion tour. GRANT COGSWELL
REMEDY: DJ SKRIBBLE, BRAIN ASHER
(Showbox) DJ Skribble was the DJ in early-'90s hiphop outfit the Young Black Teenagers. Step by step he turned his attention away from the lovely, agile, nimble, freaky-funky techniques of hiphop turntablism in favor of big, thumpy, shallow dance music. It's really too bad. He's a bigtime MTV DJ now, the final stop on the wrong path of electronic music production before "C-89" hell itself. (I even like C-89--89.5 FM. But man, sometimes they play the raunchiest music.) Skribble's most recent release, Skribble's House, is so terribly uninteresting it's unlistenable, though I haven't yet tried it while swigging those vodka Red Bull drinks, so maybe that's the key. BRIAN GOEDDE
NEIL HALSTEAD, SID HILLMAN
(Tractor) See Stranger Suggests.
DRUNK HORSE, FEDERATION X, SHAKE CITY, PARTY TIME
(Graceland) Between Drunk Horse and Party Time, you'll leave this show feeling like a pure-blooded American--not because of a patriotic love for the country, but because the irony and decadence those bands represent is distinctly U.S.A. Drunk Horse is Oakland's answer to loud and testicular power rock; the band recently released a 7-inch of Prince covers as a follow-up to its concept record, Tanning Salon/Biblical Proportions. Party Time, true to its name, is Portland's favorite '80s party-rock band, with anthemic guitar solos and lyrics about cars, guitars, and--you guessed it!--girls. So, in a long-standing tradition, get your mind off these tumultuous times by swilling buckets of Pabst and blowing out your eardrums. It's called "drowning your sorrows in excess," and it's an American privilege. JULIANNE SHEPHERD
JUNO, DESAPARECIDOS, THE PROM
(Paradox) See Stranger Suggests.
ANTIBALAS, DJ DAREK MAZZONE
(I-Spy) Antibalas is the 13-piece Afrobeat group that was signed to Ninja Tune, the label known for great DJs such as Amon Tobin, DJ Food, and Kid Koala. This is remarkable for a number of reasons, most important of which is that Antibalas doesn't make totally brilliant music like many of its labelmates. It's upbeat, tight, positive music, and the group will no doubt make a beautifully big sound in concert, but its breakthrough album, Vol 1. Liberation Afrobeat, isn't any more musically "visionary" than the stuff you'll catch at the Folklife Festival this coming May. Antibalas has another album to be released in early March, called Talkatif, and it's more of the same. "The same" is great music, don't get me wrong. It's just that there's such a big buzz around this crew, with big profiles in rap magazines and all that, that it's a little weird. Chalk up Antibalas' fame to the novelty of having an Afrobeat group on a super-cool avant-DJ label. Nevertheless, Folklife Festival is months away, so head down to the I-Spy tonight. BRIAN GOEDDE
BUSTA RHYMES, BOOM BAP PROJECT
(Showbox) See preview this issue.