(Pacific Science Center Laser Dome) Opera and lasers? Um, yeah. "Out of This World: Exploring Heaven, Hell, and Some Great Opera in Between" is the theme of this event, in which Seattle Opera education director Sue Elliott will narrate along while arias and lasers synchronize around you—and while you drink beer and wine, eat movie-theater-style snacks, and rest on the pillows and blankets you've brought (foodstuffs and drinks are for purchase). I hope Elliott doesn't say too much. Because, like I said, opera and lasers. JEN GRAVES
Whiting Tennis, Lila Nelson & the Job, Pomerantz
(Comet) "Polymath" is a term used when describing a person who is learned in many different areas. Isaac Asimov, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Schweitzer were all polymaths. Is it fair that some people excel at everything? Literature, art, music, everything and anything? Hell no, it isn't. Should you hold this against someone like Whiting Tennis—award-winning painter and sculptor who also makes finely crafted and wistful-sounding folk rock when he's not too busy being a professional artist? Well, hell no, you shouldn't. KELLY O
Cass McCombs Band, White Magic
(Tractor) Cass McCombs (long-beloved, sometimes-barefoot, often-photographed-through-a-summer-haze indie rocker) is back with a new album, Humor Risk, that is so low-key it's almost a sedative. I was listening to it while driving the other day, and a car shot past me, going way over the speed limit. I didn't even flinch. It was like my brain was covered in jam, like I was moving in slow motion. It's almost too much for this dark winter. It'll make you write in your journal, contemplate raindrops on window glass, want to go live in the forest wrapped in a cloud. I don't know if he'll be so chilled-out live, but any musician whose power over you is like a drug is worth checking out. ANNA MINARD
EXPO 89 Fest
Crimewave, Girlfriends and Boyfriends, Red Liquid
(Funhouse) See preview.
Benefit for Northwest Center Kids: Colonies, the Icarus Kid, Smile for Diamonds, Ghost Town Riot
(Crocodile) Founded in 1965, the Northwest Center has grown into the area's largest community service organization serving the needs of both adults and children with disabilities through special-needs education programs. 'Tis the season of giving, but this benefit show has plenty to give back. Colonies craft a guitar-led blend of '80s shoegaze and '90s indie rock, while the Icarus Kid, winner of last year's Seattle Laptop Battle, excels at eight-bit electro wizardry. Add in Smile for Diamonds' turned-up post-hardcore and Ghost Town Riot's dynamic, structured rock, and you should be stoked to give up the $12.50 for this good cause. MIKE RAMOS
The Black Heart Procession, Chelsea Wolfe, Rose Windows
(Tractor) The Black Heart Procession have a consistent track record of brooding piano-driven balladry. And while the San Diego band never really strays from its obsession with gloom, it also never really delves deep enough into the darkness to conjure anything truly creepy and sinister. As a result, there is an air of campiness to the group's output, like a macabre Broadway musical. This is not the case with tourmate Chelsea Wolfe. While the California songwriter has a similar penchant for delivering ominous themes with strong melodies, Wolfe takes her music into some genuinely harrowing corners of the human psyche. One moment she's casting her spell through a melancholy folk song, and the next moment she's conjuring up demons with an electrified funeral dirge. BRIAN COOK
Pickwick, Campfire OK, Jessica Dobson
(Neptune) I love it when people roll their eyes and proclaim Seattle's music scene done. Really? From pre-grunge till now, we've had a pretty healthy run, and that run shows no sign of stopping—so if you're so over campfire folk, beard rock, and intelligent hiphop, take a listen to Pickwick. The band takes that "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" thing and turns it into a virtually irresistible indie-soul concoction. While they're ratcheting up a fair amount of KEXP airtime, they mysteriously haven't been oversaturated by annoying accolades, so you still have time to jump on the bandwagon—but you'd better do it quickly. BARBARA MITCHELL
Bushwick Book Club with Seattle Rock Orchestra
(Town Hall) See Stranger Suggests.
Juan MacLean, Trashy Trash DJs
(Chop Suey) See Data Breaker.
Baths, Teen Daze, Witch Gardens
(Neptune) See Sound Check.
Tom Waits Tribute Night
(Conor Byrne) Ballard's beloved Conor Byrne Pub hosts its fifth annual tribute night to the man whose songs have launched a million tears and whose voice has frightened a million babies. Among those taking the stage at tonight's all-Tom-Waits-a-thon: Chris Kendziorski, Erin Jordan, the Blank Department, Armitage Shanks, Carrie Clark, and Ben Yost. If you always wish Waits's songs were sung by someone else, this is the night for you. Bonus: Proceeds benefit the great child-advocacy group Washington State CASA. DAVID SCHMADER
EXPO 89 Fest: OC Notes, Spencer Clark, U, Flexions, White Rainbow
(Cairo) This all-killer lineup of futurist hiphop, exotic dub rock, and experimental ambient bliss is most notable for the rare appearance of Portland's Spencer Clark. Half of defunct, enigmatic drone magi the Skaters with James Ferraro, Clark's also toiled in the Monopoly Child Star Searchers trio and most recently in solo guise as Fourth World Magazine. The latter project comes to fruition with The Spectacle of Light Abductions LP, a mystical extrapolation of Jon Hassell's Fourth World music. The album's predominant mode is alien ambience veined with ritual pulsations and embellished by mutated gurglings and chants. It sounds as if a superior, gnomic being is beaming down these tracks from an exalted realm where there is no pollution, death, or telemarketers. DAVE SEGAL
The Grouch, Zion I, Eligh, Evidence, DJ Fresh
(Crocodile) I discovered Evidence the same way you did—as one-third of underground vets Dilated Peoples. (The KutMasta Kurt–laced "Work the Angles" still gives me that face.) Even still, I always thought Rakaa was my favorite of the two MCs; in retrospect, this might just be due to our slight resemblance. Ever since Ev's 2007 solo debut, The Weatherman, though, I had to eat my words; his halting syllables, once kind of annoying to me, had coalesced into a bold cadence (as on the epic declaration "Mr. Slow Flow"). His voice, once dry as dust to me, now sounds like one of the last great hiphop monotones, used in pursuit of style, as opposed to total lack of. If only his "Chase the Clouds Away" had real weather-altering properties; remember to take your vitamin D, people. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Converge, Narrows, Black Breath, Heiress, Devotion, Cascabel
(El Corazón) John Pettibone has been a fixture in Seattle's music scene for as long as I have existed. He was the frontman for seminal straight-edge hardcore band Undertow and shred-o-riffic metal band Himsa; he's been a security guy at RKCNDY, Graceland, and now El Corazón; and he's collected some wild stories about some wild fights (search "Pettibone fight" on YouTube). Tonight, Pettibone celebrates his 40th birthday the only way a man like him could—with a fucking righteous party featuring hardcore superstars Converge, Narrows, Black Breath, Heiress, Devotion, and Cascabel. Happy birthday, John Pettibone! And thanks for never flipping me shit when you would have to search my camera bag's eight billion pockets five times a week back in the RKCNDY days. MEGAN SELING
EXPO 89 Fest: Pleasure Beauties, Stephanie, M. Women, Witch Gardens, Stickers, Idle Times
(Cairo) Day three of Cairo's festival of music, art, readings, film, and "general good vibes" is a must for fans of catchy, locally made indie and garage rock. Pleasure Beauties, Witch Gardens, and Stephanie (which features Ian Judd, Cairo curator/the guy making this all happen, on bass) all have a more twee, melodic aesthetic than M. Women, Stickers, and Idle Times' punk-spiked garage sounds. And while these bands all sound different from one another, they share at least one common trait: They're crafting some of the most creative and heartfelt DIY art and music coming out of the city today. MIKE RAMOS
Gladiators Eat Fire, Strong Killings, Monogamy Party
(Rendezvous) See album review.
Dimebag Darrell Memorial Party: Psychonaut Deathtrip, Sporicyde, Ninthgate, Surgical Chaos, Grimmride, Blood of Rome
(Studio Seven) On December 8, 2004, the global metal community's core was shaken when longtime Pantera master shredder Darrell Abbott (aka "Dimebag Darrell") was shot and killed onstage by a concertgoer as his band Damageplan performed in Columbus, Ohio. Dimebag was an insanely gifted musician—he added an untouchable Southern groove to all songs stamped with his name—as well as a beloved member of the community, known for his gracious spirit. Tonight, members of the Seattle death-metal scene come together to pay tribute the only way Dime would have it: through the power of the almighty riff. KEVIN DIERS
Bombino, Matt Jennings
(Nectar) Bombino (aka Nigerien guitarist Omara Mochtar) came to many Westerners' attention through Seattle's Sublime Frequencies label, which issued Group Bombino's Guitars from Agadez Vol. 2 album. He started playing guitar at 12 after his family took refuge in Algeria during the violent Tuareg rebellion, and feelings from the subsequent hardships seeped into his music. Bombino flaunts two main styles: sparse, mantric, acoustic blues licks that radiate an ancient ache and lack, and a lacerating, highly torqued electric attack that recalls drone rockers like Pärson Sound. For his latest album, Agadez (on Cumbancha Discovery), Bombino moves into mellower modes. Accompanied by Western musicians on Agadez, Bombino sings with more conventional melodic soulfulness and his guitar riffs assume a more fluid tone. He's still purveying a beautiful rolling blues that you want to unspool endlessly, but for better or worse, Bombino sounds less desperate and hungry here. DAVE SEGAL
EXPO 89 Fest: Ilyas Ahmed, Secret Colors, Ensemble Economique, King Dude, Tiny Vipers
(Cairo) The EXPO 89 fest closes with a hushed, dramatic flourish. Ensemble Economique (aka Brian Pyle) conjures nail-biting soundtrack tropes that menace and meander in the vein of scores by Lalo Schifrin, John Carpenter, and Goblin—with deft dub elements deepening the mystery. Ilyas Ahmed elucidates forlorn, arboreal folk-song patterns that, miraculously, haven't been done to death. Secret Colors daub the stereo field with watery, mauve guitar strokes, imbuing rock with an aquatic tranquility. Tiny Vipers deals in stark, pitiless folk songs that get more existentially gripping with each plangent, minor chord. King Dude is a morose troubadour who wears his black heart on his voluminous monk's robe sleeve. Hey, quiet might be the new awesome. DAVE SEGAL
The Knux, Jordy Towers, Fox and the Law, No More Knives
(High Dive) Rock-rap is perhaps the hardest genre of music to pull off tastefully. (That is, without sounding like Limp Bizkit, the Kottonmouth Kings, or Lil Wayne on Rebirth). LA-based duo the Knux, made up of singers/rappers/producers and multi-instrumentalist brothers Kentrell "Krispy" and Alvin "Joey" Lindsey, found some of this coveted middle ground with their 2008 debut, Remind Me in 3 Days.... Unfortunately, this year's follow-up, Eraser, leans toward a more suspect, almost Black Eyed Peas–sounding pop territory. Not a good look, but their catalog might have just enough gems in it to pull off a righteous live show in a setting as small as Fremont's High Dive. MIKE RAMOS
Dom Kennedy, Skeme, Royce the Choice
(Neumos) See My Philosophy.
KutMasta Kurt, Rushden & Diamonds, Mac Wayne, Sideways Reign
(El Corazón) See Data Breaker.
Ocote Soul Sounds, Madly in Dub, EQ Lateral
(Nectar) Led by Antibalas's Martín Perna and Grupo Fantasma/Brownout's Adrian Quesada, Ocote Soul Sounds scoop up influences from Latin America and Africa and parade them through large-ensemble-funk parameters. The songs on albums like Taurus and Coconut Rock alternate between celebratory and contemplative, coming off like a modern-day War, with occasional spurts of Fela Kuti–like revolutionary fervor. OSS swell to about a dozen musicians onstage, and they all play with true-believer zeal, undeniable skill, and a soulfulness that can't be faked. DAVE SEGAL