(Neptune) Richard Thompson is a great songwriter, having authored a body of songs that will be well regarded for as long as people have ears. (Personal favorites: "Jet Plane in a Rocking Chair," "Walking on a Wire," and "When I Get to the Border.") But the reason to see Richard Thompson live is his amazing guitar playing, which has always communicated more powerfully and eloquently than the man's prosaic singing voice. If previous stops on this tour are any indication, he'll play a first set of his newest stuff and return with a set of favorite classics. DAVID SCHMADER
Hip Hop Heals Benefit Concert (Treehouse for Foster Kids): GMK, Luke Rain, L. Hammond, Sean Herndon
(Nectar) Three things about the talented rapper GMK: One, he is currently based in Seattle and working on several projects, one of which is an EP with his partner Royce the Choice. Two, he can be seen as a postmodern (in a hiphop sense—hiphop's classical period is 1979–1984; modern period, 1985–1997; and postmodern period, 1998–present) version of Kwamé (Kwamé the Boy Genius), a modern-moment rapper who had a thing for polka dots. GMK's polka dots is the state of being brilly, or brilliant. Three, GMK's Songs for Bloggers, which was dropped in the important year (for local hiphop, that is) of 2009, is a local classic and, in my opinion, did for Seattle what Styles of Beyond's 2000 Fold did for LA. Fold expressed the spirit of LA's economy: Hollywood cinema. Bloggers expressed the spirit of Seattle's economy: computers. CHARLES MUDEDE
The Field, Copy, Nordic Soul
(Chop Suey) See Data Breaker.
Dabrye, Monolithium, DJAO, WD4D, Jon François Stone, SHONUPH
(Electric Tea Garden) See Data Breaker.
Orca Team, Detective Agency, Great Spiders
(Rendezvous) "The blues are dead," Omar Schambacher, aka Great Spiders, declares on "The Blues Are Dead," a song off their 7-inch EP of a few years back—then he proceeds to mine them for all they're worth with his brand of mellowed slack-rock. He's got a voice somewhere in between Steve Miller and David Berman (Silver Jews), and lyrics somewhere in between as well ("If you find me in a ditch/Then I've found my niche"). I asked Schambacher to tell me what's going on with Great Spiders, and he sent this: "I'm always telling lies to people's dogs about this or that... Lies about grunge history and stuff... And here's a poem I wrote a little while back: Chetty, Chetty, Chetty, I don't see no reason why you should worry. When the cops came to yer birthday house, bitch you was in a blouse." GRANT BRISSEY
The Spits, Mouthbreathers, Skelator, Deadkill, DJs Danger Nun and Fentar
(Chop Suey) See preview.
Infected Mushroom, R3hab, Hyperfunk, Kryspin
(Showbox at the Market) See Data Breaker.
Diminished Men, RLLRBLL, Lickity, Demon Steed
(Blue Moon) How many times have I told you about how infernally brilliant Diminished Men are live and on record? So many times. Please heed my words already and see/hear these masters of surf-noir-spy-jazz sorcery, okay? Portland's RLLRBLL (formerly Rollerball) used to confound heads in the '90s with a baffling array of songs that skronked grotesquely, baroqued beautifully, and motoriked mesmerizingly. Though their lineup has shrunk dramatically to a trio, RLLRBLL remain a refreshingly weird and oddly accessible presence in the Northwest music ecology. Lickity feature Spit Stix from the punk band Fear and a MySpace page from which their songs refuse to play. DAVE SEGAL
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe with Anders Osborne, Eldridge Gravy & the Court Supreme
(Neumos) It takes massive cojones to cover the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers in its entirety, live or on record, but Karl Denson's Tiny Universe have built a tour around this brash concept. The 1971 classic rock LP contains some of the Stones' most beautiful, harrowing, poignant, decadent, and rocking tracks—i.e., "Sway," "Sister Morphine," "Wild Horses," "Bitch," and "Brown Sugar," respectively. Plus, "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," one of the Mick and Keef's most dynamically exciting and emotionally draining epics. Plus, the sublime country goof of "Dead Flowers" and the glimmering balladry of "Moonlight Mile." Plus... fuck it, this album just kills. Some might think it a fool's errand to even attempt Sticky Fingers, but KDTU—with help from Anders Osborne—have the chops and the gumption to take a valiant stab at it. DAVE SEGAL
Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko, Kutt Calhoun, Jay Rock, Flawless, Neema
(Showbox Sodo) Tech N9ne, most recently heard stealing much of Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV thunder with an interlude guest verse, is well respected in a lot of rap circles. While his consistent, commanding rapid-fire spit is undeniable, everything the Kansas City rapper released after 2002's Absolute Power has been terrible, more geared toward his loyal Juggalo/X-treme Sports/MMA–bro fan base than those who knew him from his collaborations with West Coast greats like E-40, Yukmouth, Brotha Lynch Hung, or Roger Troutman. This year's All 6's and 7's featured Tecca Nina singing Auto-Tuned hooks, looking on the album cover like a hidden character from Mortal Kombat, and collaborating with everyone from T-Pain to members of the Deftones. It debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200. "F(orever) A(ccepting) N(9ne's) S(oul)," indeed. MIKE RAMOS See also My Philosophy.
Lake Union Civic Orchestra: Mahler 5
(Meany Hall) Beethoven is big and loud. He upped the number of players, introduced honking instruments, and generally roared all over the theater. But Mahler is bigger and louder. And Mahler's Fifth is the Mahleriest Mahler (not counting the later symphony where he adds an entire city's worth of voices behind the orchestra). The Fifth, which premiered in 1904, is a juggernaut! A roaring locomotive! Naturally, LUCO is combining it with music by the man who makes both Mahler and Beethoven look medium-sized: Wagner. After this, you will need to sit in a silent chamber for months, years, perhaps the rest of your life. JEN GRAVES
Black Star, THEESatisfaction, Abyssinian Creole
My Goodness, Ravenna Woods, Sugar Sugar Sugar
(Neumos) What a trajectory My Goodness's Joel Schneider and Ethan Jacobsen have enjoyed. Both used to bartend at Neumos—CONFLICT OF INTEREST ALERT: Schneider even barbacked there, and so did I; another lazy barback used to call him "wonder boy" because he busted so much ass; also, I went to high school with Jacobsen's half sister—and now they're headlining a dang show at the place, on a Saturday night, no less. They deserve it, and my prediction is that their roughed-up garage-blues will continue to propel them to bigger and better things. GRANT BRISSEY
The Bangles, A Fragile Tomorrow
(Showbox at the Market) I don't listen to much Bangles music these days—the band appears more regularly in my listening as a name-check, typically by Ghostface Killah, who praises the sexiness of "Susannah Bangles" on something or other I listen to semi-regularly. But whenever the iPod shuffle gods see that a Bangles track is brought to my ears, I'm always exceedingly happy. "Hero Takes a Fall," "Going Down to Liverpool," "If She Knew What She Wants," their amazing cover of "Hazy Shade of Winter"—these are songs I will enjoy forever. Then there are the (ruinous, lucrative) power ballads. Expect plenty of both, along with offerings from the Bangles' new record, Sweetheart of the Sun. Opening the show: South Carolina power-pop band A Fragile Tomorrow. DAVID SCHMADER
The Young Evils, Motopony, Say Hi, Blood Red Dancers, the Torn ACLs, Connie Chang, Gabriel Mintz
(Skylark) You can judge a person's character by the company they keep—and the bands they choose to play their birthday rock show. In which case, consider Troy Nelson of the Young Evils/KEXP fame one hell of a dude. This show, to celebrate his day of birth, has a great lineup of local talent. Blood Red Dancers play bass-heavy and dirty blues-inspired rock; Say Hi is, of course, a Northwest favorite, with bittersweet indie-pop songs about heartbreak; Motopony is bright, jangly vintage pop with a little swagger... there's just so much greatness! Happy birthday, Mr. Nelson—you throw a fantastic party. MEGAN SELING
Sirhan Sirhan, Android Hero, Rabbits, Deadkill
(Funhouse) Loud-fast-rules enthusiasts should be thoroughly satiated by tonight's show. San Diego's Sirhan Sirhan offer a skuzzy brand of punk, like Zeke with more crunch and less relentless blazing. Android Hero's brainy ire harks back to the seminal acts of the early Alternative Tentacles roster—a little of NoMeansNo's bass throb here, a little of D.O.A.'s chug and churn there. And the whole evening kicks off with the classic hardcore fury of Deadkill. Sound exhausting? Well, Portland's Rabbits offer a brief respite from the barrage of frenetic pacing. While all the other bands know how to seize upon a good mid-tempo pummeling every now and again, no one else on the bill goes for the kind of tar-pit lurch that typifies Rabbits' sound. BRIAN COOK
Mastodon, the Dillinger Escape Plan, Red Fang
(Showbox Sodo) Mastodon's latest album, The Hunter, elicits wildly varied opinions from their fans. This much can be agreed upon: The Atlanta band has ended its streak of increasingly ambitious concept albums for a more streamlined version of thinking-man's metal. The songs are still heavy and the musicianship is still ruggedly impressive. But rather than writing another album of heady prog opuses tackling a variety of moods and styles, they parcel out their approaches in a series of more conventional song structures. Fans pining for the sonic journeys of Crack the Skye might not appreciate this new strategy, but dilettantes overwhelmed by Mastodon's previous excursions may find The Hunter a Rosetta stone for untangling the band's elaborate language. BRIAN COOK
(Sorrento Hotel) See Stranger Suggests.
(Neptune) It takes mad skills to write gloomy music and make it interesting—too many artists fall into the bad habit of navel-gazing and clichés. Mark Kozelek has managed to sustain a long-lasting career because his music is actually captivating—nuanced, haunting, and broken, it draws you into its delicate tragedies slowly and softly. Part of Kozelek's dark charm is his voice, which manages to sound exactly like a broken heart; the other is that—like a lot of folks who traffic in gloom—he's actually pretty funny and self-effacing. If you like the slow, stately beauty of autumn, with its combination of glory and decay, you should be a fan. BARBARA MITCHELL
Real Estate, Big Troubles, special guests
(Crocodile) Real Estate's second full-length, Days, dropped last month and was met with glowing praise from the likes of Pitchfork and Spin, but the record's calm, sun-bleached complacency made it fade into background noise on the multiple occasions I listened to it. It's pleasant, but repetitive. The New Jersey outfit excel most when they hit more guitar-noodling grooves, like on "Kinder Blumen" and "All the Same," as they did with standouts like "Pool Swimmers" and "Fake Blues" from their 2009 debut, letting simplistic twin leads layer together into something more complex and striking. In a live setting, these more free-form instrumental parts will likely shake off the lo-fi dust of their recorded material and reveal the more appreciable intricacies in their pop songwriting. MIKE RAMOS
The Acacia Strain, Terror, Stray From the Path, Harm's Way, Prestige
(El Corazón) Over the last five years, Massachusetts metalcore unit the Acacia Strain have been searching for the brown note—a note that's so low, so heavy, that when triggered, it will forcefully evacuate the bowels of everyone within a 10-foot radius. These guys tune down and chug until there's nothing left of the mosh pit but a sweaty mass of dancers gasping for air. Whether you call it deathcore, metalcore, mosh-metal, or nu-metal, it's pretty fucking vicious. Stage-dive-centric LA hardcore heroes Terror might steal the show, though, as vocalist Scott Vogel will surely motivate the basketball-jersey-clad army to "activate the pit" through his often-hysterical "Vogelisms," such as "I want to see you cast a level-seven-difficulty stage dive pronto!" Also, catch Chicago's Harm's Way for a tasty dose of Slayer worship. KEVIN DIERS
GWAR, Every Time I Die, Warbeast, Ghoul
(Showbox Sodo) See Sound Check.
Shonen Knife, Grave Babies, Watch It Sparkle
(Tractor) Shonen Knife were one of those '90s pop-punk bands that Kurt Cobain championed and helped donkey-kick into the mainstream (with both his golden stamp of approval and an opening spot on Nirvana's 1991 Nevermind tour). The Japanese media darlings subsequently landed record deals with K Records and Sub Pop, and went on to be cult-worshipped in the East and West. Currently, Shonen Knife celebrate their 30-year anniversary with a world tour and a new album—a cute and polite Japanese-style tribute to the Ramones called Osaka Ramones—Tribute to the Ramones. KELLY O
Rickie Lee Jones
(Jazz Alley) Rickie Lee Jones's voice is in my favorite artistic zone—a happy medium between gorgeous and weird. I know, lots of people like things alllll the way at the end of whatever spectrum they're into: as rage-growly as possible, or as ethereally high as possible. These people can have their Angela Gossow, their Kate Bush. I get it, but I can't help wanting to be sung to from smack in the gooey center of a Venn diagram of strange and pretty. Jones is right there, sounding like she smoked a cigarette, then swallowed a spoonful of molasses—after being abducted by aliens, directly following a really hard breakup. It was recently brought to my attention (by asking around) that perhaps, somehow, my generation hasn't fallen for her yet. This worries me. I'm glad your mom played you all her Joni Mitchell albums and you named your dog Emmylou, but that doesn't mean you can just quit there. Get on it! ANNA MINARD