See Me River, Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death, Battle Hymns
(Chop Suey) Without a doubt, the personal highlight of this year's Sasquatch! Festival was Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death frontman Spencer Moody's amazing, blitzed ranting between (and then during) songs with his old band the Murder City Devils. To paraphrase: Beautiful faggots rule, disgusting jocks drool (and beautiful faggot jocks are presumably very confused). While Of Montreal brought their usual gender-bent spectacle and Monotonix predictably played in the crowd, Moody's inspired outbursts were the only truly unexpected and uncomfortable confrontation in a long weekend of rock and roll as harmless recreation. It was the punk rockers crashing the frat party, it was revenge of the nerds, and it was awesome. The boozy spontaneous combustion looked like it damn near killed Moody as well, but if you're going to sing about wanting to see Iggy bleed, you've got to be willing to make an effigy of yourself onstage. Triumph of Lethargy are kind of like that moment sublimated into one long howl. ERIC GRANDY
Reverend Beat-Man, Delaney Davidson, Atomic Bride, Bill Collectors, Autolite Strike
(Funhouse) Reverend Beat-Man is a swearing and swaggering (and Swiss) evangelist for trashy, garage-punk blues. He croaks froggily about being a hard man in a cruel world and plays his guitar like it's Sun Records all over again—but darker, druggier, and shtick-ier. His tourmate, Delaney Davidson, is a New Zealander whose quiet country-blues has deeper, more gothic depths. Davidson plays Johnny Cash to Beat-Man's Jerry Lee Lewis. They make a nice counterpoint, but we all know who would win in a fight. Brooding beats histrionic any day. About the show, Davidson says: "I reckon I will play a half-hour set and then merge into the band." Don't miss that half hour. BRENDAN KILEY
Dirty Projectors, What's Up?
(Chop Suey) Portland's What's Up? create the sort of manic, netherworld pop that makes them ideal openers for Dirty Projectors. Restless, odd rhythms spasm below weirdly tuned keyboards and guitars that unpredictably billow and surge. A quasi-African notion of intonation animates the playing; songs sound like they're headed to non-Western places via the prog-rock path of most resistance. Their Content Imagination CD (on the Obey Your Brain label) is all instrumental and mostly rewarding, in a puzzling, furrow-browed way. DAVE SEGAL See also Stranger Suggests, and preview.
Derrick May, Pezzner, Nordic Soul
(Neumos) If you've never seen Derrick May work the decks, you need to catch this DJ gig at Neumos. Forgive me if I've written this before, but it bears repeating: The Detroit techno innovator is a brilliant electronic-music historian who invariably does the crucial job of educating and entertaining over multiple eras and styles; dude dropped a Pigbag cut in a fantastically polyrhythmic house and techno set last time he came through Chop Suey. Seattle's Pezzner (of Jacob London fame) is a freewheeling producer ushering minimal techno into some of the most enjoyable hot spots it's ever been taken. Fellow local Nordic Soul (Sean Horton) possesses an uncanny ability to read crowds and adapt to myriad situations, abetted by deep crates and deeper knowledge. DAVE SEGAL
Green Day, the Bravery
(KeyArena) Recently, a friend suggested that my continued, if seldom expressed, affection for Green Day's classic albums Kerplunk and Dookie was just misguided nostalgia, that these albums hadn't aged well, that my teenage tastes were just bad. While I'll concede that last point on some occasions, in this case, my friend is very, very wrong. I gave these records a spin the other day just to make sure that they were still exemplars of the East Bay pop-punk genre, and sure enough they totally rule. I lost touch with Green Day before they entered their current phase of scoring big, radio-ready, face-palmingly political mall-punk rock operas, but a quick listen to American Idiot and the new 21st Century Breakdown reveal the band have managed to take to their new role without completely embarrassing themselves. ERIC GRANDY
Valis, Stone Axe
(Comet) Featuring ex–Screaming Trees member Van Conner, Valis peddle heavy rock that's neither outwardly psychedelic nor exceptionally beautiful nor bracingly powerful enough to stand out from muscle-bound rock's middling masses. Sorry, Van. Screaming Trees wrote much better melodies, and so did Solomon Grundy, Conner's other group, for that matter. Port Orchard, Washington's Stone Axe conjure a guttural, soulful hard-rock cauldron that suggests they've absorbed their share of Humble Pie and Thin Lizzy. Singer Dru Brinkerhoff valiantly rasps in ways that make Steve Marriott and Rod Stewart comparisons seem not at all absurd. DAVE SEGAL
Octagon Control, Le Face, B-Lines, Le Shat Noir
(Funhouse) Line Out commenter (and Police Teeth guy) J. Burns pointed my internet browser in the direction of Bellingham's Octagon Control recently, and I can't thank him enough. Octagon Control remind me a whole lot of the convulsive punk rock deployed by Seattle's defunct Popular Shapes, only here the guitars are replaced by one fuzzed-out bass guitar and some spastic keyboard riffs. Everything is going about a million miles an hour, and the singer has the ideal sort of smart-assy snarl to complement the racket. Dudes currently have a split 7-inch out with Philadelphia's Doctor Scientist; here's hoping we hear some more from them in the record department soon. GRANT BRISSEY
The Fall of Troy, Black Houses, Beware of the Sea
(Sunset) Seattle's guitar-shredding, screamo-influenced trio the Fall of Troy have been very quiet this year, as they've been hiding out in the studio writing new material with Terry Date (Pantera, Deftones, Smashing Pumpkins' Zeitgeist). Tonight we'll finally be able to hear the fruits of their labor, and you folks who might've shrugged off the band in the past may want to reconsider not attending, as working with Date has uncovered a new sound for the band. Singer and guitarist Thomas Erak says people can "expect a more mature and musically pleasing Fall of Troy. The new material is a lot more grown-up. It's darker and more moody, as opposed to just being fast and wild." MEGAN SELING
Galdr, Same-Sex Dictator, Are you a cat?
(Josephine) See preview.
Robert Armani, Jimmy Hoffa, Travis Baron, Grindle
(Baltic Room) See Data Breaker.
Albino!, Publish the Quest, Jonny Sonic
(Nectar) Bands with exclamation points in their names put undue pressure on themselves. Talk about raising listeners' expectations! (I'm looking at you, Wham! and !!!) So, what about these Albino! cats? Do they earn their exciting punctuation? Depends how you feel about Afrobeat emulators whose skin lacks pigmentation (okay, only 9 of 10 Albino! members look to be white). Racial makeup aside, these Berkeley, California, musicians approach Fela Kuti's brainchild with a reverent, understated brio. They have Fela's big band's ability to sound at once militarily precise and joyfully loose, enabling you to orderly freak the hell out to their intricate percussive interplay and triumphant horn charts. DAVE SEGAL
(Marymoor Park) No one benefited more from the strange gifts of fledgling MTV than Duran Duran. Back in the old days, MTV not only played music videos 24 hours a day, it played the same three-dozen music videos 24 hours a day—and at least a quarter of these belonged to Duran Duran, a band canny enough to illustrate their glossy pop hits by dragging their dashing selves to exotic locales for unprecedentedly dramatic videos. Lucky for all, their Sri Lankan–travel soundtracks proved to be pop songs with staying power, as tonight's performance by the now-28-year-old band (!) makes clear. DAVID SCHMADER
A Drink for the Kids: Telepathic Liberation Army, Unnatural Helpers
(Cha Cha) Tonight kicks off the Vera Project's annual Drink for the Kids fundraiser, where a bunch of booze-loving Vera supporters spend a week touring their favorite bars in various Seattle neighborhoods as an excuse to raise glasses (and money) for children. Throughout the week, guest musicians and local notables will be hosting events in Ballard, West Seattle, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, and the Central District, and all you have to do to help out is drop by between the hours of 6 and 10 pm and order an alcoholic beverage. That's it. It's that easy. Your money will go straight to the Vera Project. It's the one time of year where the more drunk you get, the more you help a child. Find the whole schedule at www.adrinkforthekids.org. MEGAN SELING
Double Dagger, Arbitron, Chk Minus, Brain Fruit
(Comet) On their recent Thrill Jockey album More, Baltimore's Double Dagger flex stealthy, sinewy rock that balances brains, brawn, and emotional heft with admirable equilibrium. In the vein of Fugazi, Mission of Burma, and Volcano Suns, they're Rhodes Scholar athletes of caustic sound, summoning anthemic energy with dependable white-guy moxie. You will probably mosh to this, but thoughtfully and at acute angles. Local unsigned trio Brain Fruit intrigue, thanks to a glowing report of live prowess from Mr. Grandy and their one MySpace song, a hypnotic basement-jam Can salute that suggests more interesting things caroming around their noggins. Also: All Brain Fruit members drum. I love when that happens. DAVE SEGAL
Sugar Skulls, the Screaming Cherry Blossoms, C'Mon C'Mon
(Funhouse) Seattle quartet Sugar Skulls play a loose, diverse strain of prog rock that doesn't lose its sense of fun and tunefulness amid all the tricky time-signature shifts and key changes. The lineup of Ursula Beatrice Stuart (bass/vocals), Heidi Nebel (keyboards/vocals), Julie Baldridge (six-string violin/vocals), and Kory Christian (drums) revels in unpredictability, and their list of influences is a confounding blend of highbrow prog heavies, quasi-novelty acts, as well as Slayer, Prince, Sun City Girls, and John and Alice Coltrane. I'm pretty sure they're serious about all of those. Whatever the case, Sugar Skulls are one of the city's most interesting bands, and their dizzyingly frenetic song "Paganini's Party Pants" actually lives up to its title. DAVE SEGAL
Weird Owl, Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, Night Beats
(Comet) See Stranger Suggests.
Rise Against, Rancid
(WaMu Theater) Green Day and Rancid in one week? It's like my own personal high-school (CD collection) reunion. As with Green Day's Dookie and Kerplunk, I submit that the Rancid record released when I just happened to be in the identity-forming, overemotional prime of my teenage years, ...And Out Come the Wolves, is objectively their best record ever. Sorry, teenagers of today, but this is just inarguable fact. Rancid's new album, Let the Dominoes Fall (every album title a bad tattoo in the making), is best when it doesn't fuck with the band's long-established formula: ska-charged punk anthems backing up Tim Armstrong's marble-mouthed and broken-toothed, tough-guy-with-a-heart balladry. It's at its worst any time the band lets sidemen Lars Frederiksen or Matt Freeman near the mic. ERIC GRANDY
Valium Stallion; Post Honeymoon; Vera, the Ghost
(Comet) I'm goddamn sick of hearing bands that sound so much like Death Cab for Cutie that halfway through one of their songs I have to double-check that I'm not actually hearing some sloppy DCFC B-side. But similarities be damned, I continue to enjoy Vera, the Ghost, a Kitsap County band that is very much not Death Cab, but sound an awful lot like them. Take "Chivalry Is Dead," for example. The first half is basically Vera's take on "Bixby Canyon Bridge." Like Ben Gibbard's, Vera singer Dan Whinery's high croon is one part boyish charm and one part confident frontman. Thankfully, in other songs, the comparisons aren't so immediate. "The Daily Forecast" has synth and danceability. They're new, so it's likely Vera will come into their own. And it's very possible they'll be quite good. MEGAN SELING
New Kids on the Block, Jesse McCartney, Jabbawockeez
(White River Amphitheatre) Ah, 1988: The seminal year that brought us Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation, Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and New Kids on the Block's Hangin' Tough. Twenty-one years later, Sonic Youth are playing the Capitol Hill Block Party, Public Enemy are playing second fiddle to Flavor Flav's comedy career, and the re-formed New Kids on the Block are playing the White River Amphitheatre. Life is weird. DAVID SCHMADER
Mad Rad, Thee Satisfaction, Tiffany Stedinsky, DJ Darwin
(Funhouse) See preview.
The Pimps of Joytime, Lucky Brown
(Nectar) Their name sounds kind of like an Adult Swim cartoon or a nasty manga, and there's something indisputably cartoony about the Pimps of Joytime. Their track "Workin' All the Time" has enough of an old-school kick—scratches and horns and Casio doodling—to seem almost like a nostalgia act. And then "Joytime Radio" sounds like a lost Sly & the Family Stone cut and "Street Sound" has a laid-back disco feel. As you listen to them play, you begin to realize that the Pimps are great scholars of soul. A little while later, you want to rifle through their record collection, because they've schooled you in just about every way there is. Their knowledge is deep, and their skills are powerful. PAUL CONSTANT