Man or Astro-man?, the Octopus Project
(Crocodile) It's easy to forget about Man or Astro-man?. They don't put their personalities front and center (founding members are, simply, Star Crunch, Birdstuff, and Coco, with other members including Mr. Neutron, Dexter X: Man from Planet Q, and Trace Reading), and the gimmickry—sound effects and dialogue samples from old sci-fi movies in every track—probably keeps a lot of people from taking them seriously. But they're not a joke band; Man or Astro-man?'s closest equivalent is the Wu-Tang Clan, with their obsession with comic book and kung fu imagery. And like the Wu-Tang, they're hardcore; "Escape Velocity" is still my go-to song when I need to hear clashing guitars whipping themselves into a frenzy. Man or Astro-man? can rip it up better than just about anyone on the face of this planet—or any other. PAUL CONSTANT
The Lights, Unnatural Helpers, Partman Parthorse
(Funhouse) See Stranger Suggests.
Carl Craig, Jon McMillion
(Baltic Room) See Stranger Suggests.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Grieves and Budo, the Physics, Sol
(Showbox at the Market) See My Philosophy.
(Henry Art Gallery) Last year, Ted Leo caused a panic on the internet—the prolific frontman of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists posted on his blog about how "there's not money in it for us" and "the energy we have inside us is not as boundless as it once seemed." Though true, these statements were taken out of context, causing hyperventilating fans to rush to the nearest message board to whine about the imminent demise of Ted Leo. But it isn't so! While he'll have to start slowing down—the crazy tour schedule will eventually cease paying off both emotionally and monetarily—Leo is not done yet, and he's spending a few weeks in 2011 touring solo to prove it. Sans band, Leo has the inclination to play both TL/Rx songs as well as a slew of great and/or hilarious covers—his catalog runs deep with everything from Kelly Clarkson to the Beatles, Springsteen to Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Tonight, anything can happen (except retirement). MEGAN SELING
Deerhoof, Ben Butler & Mousepad, Special Explosion
(Neumos) Whoa, Deerhoof made the cover of highbrow British mag Wire this month. If that ain't validation for a long-running indie-rock band... But, seriously, Deerhoof have made one of those gradual creative and commercial ascents that feels absolutely justified. They remind me of a more consistent and harder-rocking Blonde Redhead, with a more pronounced affection for Captain Beefheart's Magic Band's clangor and angularity (clangularity™). The new Deerhoof vs. Evil finds the San Francisco group experimenting with their songwriting parameters (see especially the noise-dub shocker "The Merry Barracks"); getting odd with time signatures; applying new, exotic textures and percussion touches; and generally improving at an age—16—when most bands have become decrepit or extinct. DAVE SEGAL
Nodzzz, Gun Outfit, Ziskis
(Sunset) San Fran trio Nodzzz have a song called "I Don't Wanna (Smoke Marijuana)." Tourmates Gun Outfit have a track called "High Places." Conflict of interest, dudes? Maybe the two bands have some shared history that helps mitigate this (non) impasse—supposedly, Nodzzz's Sean Paul Presley and Anthony Atlas met at a baseball diamond in Olympia, which also happens to be the hometown of the melody-minded punks in Gun Outfit. Regardless, the two bands make for an attractive combination, with Nodzzz's decidedly wakeful, bright guitar pop contrasting with the enveloping darkness of Gun Outfit's high-impact ordnances. One is jangly and jubilant; the other is tuneful and tireless, somewhere between the Catheters' uncontainable energy and No Age's expertly composed furor, with its detours into shimmering, emotive bliss-outs. JASON BAXTER
Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Virgin, Love Loungers
(Crocodile) Brent Amaker and the Rodeo are the kind of dudes you want to drink too much whiskey with. Brent Amaker and the Rodeo's songs are the kind of songs you want to drink whiskey to. Crocodile has whiskey. Do the math. GRANT BRISSEY
Swans, Wooden Wand
(Neumos) See preview.
Jimmy Edgar, Levi Clark, DJ dAb, Joe Bellingham
(Electric Tea Garden) See Data Breaker.
[a]pendics.shuffle, Murdoc, Derrick Deepvibez
(Baltic Room) See Data Breaker.
Versus, Sister Wife
(Sunset) Who'd have guessed—in indie rock's early/mid-'90s halcyon years—that some of the movement's heroes would be making their most vital music today? Far from "growing up," bands like Versus and Superchunk seem to have grown into their own. A decade after their last album and close to two since their first, Versus have delivered On the Ones and Threes, a record that transforms their original cute boy/girl, twentysomething bravado into something infinitely more confident and collected. Maturity might get a bad rap, but it turns out the bumps and bruises (and the self-assurance that accompanies them) are a mighty good seasoning when combined with the apparently eternal youthfulness of Gen X. BARBARA MITCHELL
Endless Boogie, Arbouretum, Eternal Tapestry
(Comet) This lineup overflows with outward-bound psych-rock vibes. Baltimore quartet Arbouretum are perhaps the earthiest crew in the bunch, but their elegantly rugged roots rock has transcendental tendencies thanks to lead singer Dave Heumann's eloquent guitar calligraphy. Arbouretum's fab new album, The Gathering, is inspired by Carl Jung's The Red Book. Portland's Eternal Tapestry have achieved hard-driving and drone-mongering psychedelic peaks on releases for Not Not Fun and Three Lobed; their new Thrill Jockey LP, Beyond the 4th Door, mellows out and billows into epic cosmic drifts ideal for consciousness-raising sessions. New York's Endless Boogie ramble and chug as if infinity is their plaything. Their ramshackle, OCD-afflicted boogie accrues psychotropic properties through sheer repetition of primal Keef Richards/Mick Taylor riffs, with incisive filigrees added for spice. It's primitive sonic alchemy by guys old enough to be your dad. DAVE SEGAL
Balkan Beat Box, Soulica
(Showbox at the Market) The reason why this Balkan music craze didn't immediately burn out the way the Squirrel Nut Zippers–inspired swing revival of the 1990s did is simple: Balkan music is still a living thing. Musicians like Beirut and, especially, Balkan Beat Box embrace the classical elements—the brass, the swirling beats—but they fold electronic elements into the songs seamlessly, making it something altogether new. Not every BBB experiment works (some of the rap interludes are painful, especially when the music is slowed down to put the vocals front and center), but a musical failure at least signifies that music is alive. Whether B3 are failing or succeeding, music doesn't get much more alive than this. PAUL CONSTANT
Waka Flocka Flame and Brick Squad
(King Cat Theater) Everything that's great and wrong about crunk can be found in Waka Flocka Flame's music. His beats and rap style are impressive, but the things he has to say are either predictable or way over the top. The emerging Atlanta-based rapper is, beatwise, the new source of some of the most dazzling crunk imaginable. For example, the rolling, fluctuating bass in "Bustin at Em" is mind-blowing, but the message conveyed in Flame's raps is, though delivered with great gusto and determination, banal. Indeed, the video for the track resorts to the violence of video games and Hollywood cinema to make up for this weakness in content. Musically, crunk is in the future; materialwise, it is stuck in the past. CHARLES MUDEDE See also My Philosophy, and Sound Check.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Fresh Espresso, Helladope, Canary Sing
(Showbox at the Market) See My Philosophy.
Abe Vigoda, Wild Nothing, M. Women
(Vera) On 2008's Skeleton, Inland Empire art-punks Abe Vigoda (no relation to the Barney Miller actor) came on with a mathy clamor reminiscent of Baltimore's Ponytail, with even sweeter melodies and actual lyrics. On 2010's Crush, Abe Vigoda were reborn as a new-wave band, all squiggly synths, jagged guitars, and gothy drama, almost all of it made good by the band's devotion to melodic reward. Tonight the band hits the Vera Project, with support from Jack Tatum's one-man indie-pop band Wild Nothing and Seattle punks M. Women. DAVID SCHMADER
Brickbats, Rad Touch, Consulate, Black Science
(Funhouse) "We break front teeth/And like us, they stay broke, too/Two spikes in the throat!/Two spikes in the throat!/And a finger pointed straight at you/I need a mustache/Like Burt Reynolds, damn it! Flame!/A symbol that I'm a man/Something classic I still can't obtain." If these lyrics from "Freddy Mercury Poisoning" off local post-hardcore wise guys Rad Touch's new album, Creative Nonfiction, resonate with any meaning for you—any meaning at all (flame!)—then go to this show and bang your fist. If not, you should prolly just go down to the Hard Rock Cafe, like you do every Sunday, to eat Hard Rock Nachos™, while pretending you still like rock 'n' roll. KELLY O
The Concretes, MillionYoung, Speaker Speaker
(Neumos) This bill will become more soothing—or less interesting, depending on your mood—as the evening wears on. Local kids Speaker Speaker will kick around the stage with their spazzy pop-rock. MillionYoung will play their groovy reef-rock (which always sounds to me like what aliens would play at a beach party in Mexico). Then the Concretes, those lovely Swedish sirens, will sing their soft disco lullabies. Has Neumos considered providing cots at the back of the room for naps? BRENDAN KILEY
Lisa Dank, DJ Nark, Fly Moon Royalty, Secret Shoppers, Little Red Radio, OC Notes
(Comet) See the Homosexual Agenda.
Baths, Braids, Gobble Gobble
(Chop Suey) Having come down with the flu, I was forced to listen to Baths after taking two doses of NyQuil. I'm not sure if Baths' music was intended for robo-tripping, but it makes a pretty strong case nevertheless. The Los Angeles–based artist (real name: Will Wiesenfeld) makes woozy, clipped beats accentuated by busy, dizzying textures and an astral falsetto. His 2010 debut, Cerulean, is packed with cerebral fuckery, as if a leech has wormed itself into the ear and sucked out all the blood necessary to allow the brain to properly function. In effect, it's disorienting and blurry, as though the listener with 20/20 vision is wearing super-thick prescription glasses. Then again, maybe that's the NyQuil kicking in. Tour support Braids are the second coming of Panda Bear, reincarnated as a woman. TRAVIS RITTER
Malevolent Creation, Full Blown Chaos, the Absence, Havok, Deathmocracy
(Studio Seven) A few years too late to clinch the "pioneer" tag, Malevolent Creation still deserve respect for being a part of death metal's first wave. Other bands had established the basic components of the sound—the double-kick beats, the anti-intuitive note choices, the guttural vocals, the venomous tremolo-picked riffs—but Malevolent Creation crashed out of the gate with these tumultuous attributes fully harnessed. The adept balance of technical precision and seemingly unbridled barrages was achieved at the get-go, meaning their early work holds up better than the debuts of antecedent acts like Death and Obituary. With a career that's seen little rest in over 20 years, Malevolent Creation are a prime example of both death metal's formative years and its enduring brutality. BRIAN COOK
2562, Cyanwave, Nordic Soul
(Baltic Room) See Data Breaker.
Gladiators Eat Fire, Ninja
(Comet) See CD review.