Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour
(Vera) See Underage.
Simian Mobile Disco, the Juan Maclean, Blondes
(Neumos) English twosome Simian Mobile Disco make hands-(and-feet)-in-the-air dance music via mostly analog technology. Their club bangers therefore have a rougher, rawer edge than most of their peers'. Check "Tits & Acid" (without which, life would be unbearable) for ample proof. SMD are touring behind Delicacies, a bold experimental-techno diversion. And don't sleep on the Juan Maclean; besides being one of DFA's key artists, he's an epicurean house and disco DJ. DAVE SEGAL
Junkie XL, Mad Rad, Truckasauras
(Neumos) See Data Breaker.
Diamond Rings, PS I Love You
(Vera) See Sound Check.
Midday Veil, Datura Blues, Hypatia Lake, Wah Wah Exit Wound
(Comet) Three of Seattle's most compelling psych and prog groups join Portland's Wicker Man–channeling, space-folk troupe Datura Blues for a night of epic, mystique-heavy rock that uses stars for percussion and enchanted forests for timbre. DAVE SEGAL
(Triple Door) The music of Hugh Masekela, one of the founders of modern South African jazz, is a dialectic between the lightness of "Grazin' in the Grass" and the heaviness of "Stimela (Coal Train)." The former was a massive hit in the late 1960s, topping the American pop charts. Those silly cowbells are now a permanent part of the world's popular memory. The latter tune, "Stimela (Coal Train)," was not a big hit, but it did draw an accurate and deeply somber economic picture of the Southern African region. The opening lines of the tune: "There is a train that comes from Namibia and Malawi/There is a train that comes from Zambia and Zimbabwe/There is a train that comes from Angola and Mozambique/From Lesotho, from Botswana, from Swaziland/From all the hinterland of Southern and Central Africa/This train carries young and old, African men/Who are conscripted to come and work on contract/In the golden mineral mines of Johannesburg." Masekela's trumpet moves between the surface of the black Southern African experience and its profoundest parts. CHARLES MUDEDE
Spoek Mathambo, Rainbow Arabia
(Nectar) South Africa's Spoek Mathambo plays ruffneck global dance music that sprays extreme frequencies with rambunctious energy, topped by celebratory male and female vocals. His Mshini Wam album abounds with exhilarating, militant party jams in which gunfire sometimes serves as percussion. LA's Rainbow Arabia push a similarly worldly genre mash, offering exotic, kinetic tracks laced with Tiffany Preston's quirky, distant vocals. Their new album on Kompakt, Boys and Diamonds, refines the duo's Middle Eastern buzzdrone and rhythmic jaggedness to a sleeker, ethereal dub-pop lope with Siouxsie-in-an-echo-chamber vocals. DAVE SEGAL
Big Bully, Ctrl_Alt_Dlt, Albert, T. Shade, Murdoc
(Re-bar) See Data Breaker.
Hugh Cornwell, Spurm, AAIIEE!!
(Funhouse) "The Sportsman" by AAIEE!! has a nice Pixies-talking-blues element: some gentle surf-rock guitar in the lead, a slowly building wave of guitar-drums-bass moving from the background to the foreground, and the unhurried, rambling story about a grain elevator, a big fish, and the city hall in Decatur, Illinois. In their others songs, AAIIEE!! seem to be living in a Venn diagram between Art Brut and the Melvins—heavy in the sound, talky in the vocals, playful in the delivery. They seem like a new box of fun. But the big draw on this bill is Hugh Cornwell of Guildford art-goth-new-wave rockers the Stranglers. Cornwell will play a set of Stranglers' hits and solo material. After a break, his band will play the Stranglers' Rattus Norvegicus in its entirety. Also up: the delightfully spastic anxiety-rock of hometown boys Spurm. BRENDAN KILEY
The Curious Mystery, Karl Blau, Lonesome Shack
(Comet) Tonight is the album release party of one of the only Seattle-based K Records acts, the Curious Mystery. We Creeling is their solid forthcoming album, a work soaked in Americana and roots upon roots of early psych and rock. Opening are roots-ist veterans Lonesome Shack. Their leading man, Ben Todd, also happens to be one of the best luthiers in the city, which definitely helps for playing Delta blues. K's venerable alum Karl Blau is also bringing his brand of old-world Afrocentrism to the stage for a well-rounded, psychedelic-tinged night of music. AARON KEMPLEY
(Hard Rock Cafe) Most widely known as the sexy rocker chick with the humongous voice on the CBS reality competition Rock Star: Supernova, Storm Large is the Portland-based chanteuse/raconteuse/rock star who's been knocking out audiences in the Northwest and beyond for over a decade. (In 2009, her "autobiographical musical memoir" Crazy Enough ran for 17 sold-out weeks in Portland before touring to Edinburgh and NYC, and more recently, she starred in the LA production of the new Randy Newman musical Harps and Angels.) Tonight at the Hard Rock Cafe, she answers to no one but herself, offering the Storm Large Experience with a backing band and a songbook featuring revamped classics and autobiographical originals, such as the gem "My Vagina Is Eight Miles Wide." DAVID SCHMADER
The Dismemberment Plan
(Showbox Sodo) See preview.
(Triple Door) See Stranger Suggests.
Magma Festival: Broken Water, Stickers, Kunt Kontroll, Santee
(Healthy Times Fun Club) Hollow Earth Radio doesn't really have a sound, or a house style, but if I had to pick one band playing at their annual Magma Festival to exemplify what Hollow Earth is all about, it'd be Olympia trio Broken Water. They sound distant but warm, like a love song aimed at a person with his ear cocked, three miles away. Their craftsmanship as musicians is obvious—the clashing guitars of "Boyfriend Hole" evoke the best of the Pixies—but the way Broken Water defy expectations is what makes them interesting. In "Boyfriend Hole," the vocals sound dispassionate in direct contrast to those hot guitars, until they both finally slam together for a gory, satisfying climax. Would it be off-putting if I referred to Broken Water as "intellectual"? Because I think they're the smartest band I've heard in a while, which makes them perfect for a festival celebrating the smartest radio station in town. PAUL CONSTANT
Trouble: Kid Hops, SunTzu Sound, DJ FITS, Heavy Dicso
(Fred Wildlife Refuge) It's about time Seattle got a wildlife refuge—or at least a really wild "collaborative habitat for artists." In addition to having photo studios and an art gallery, Fred has two bars, a gigantic dance floor, and is about to become the new home—a modern discotheque—for Seattle club night Trouble (formerly Trouble Dicso at Re-bar). Expect to dance. Expect to sweat. Expect to get lost in the larger-than-life-and-almost-IMAX-sized video projections. Then expect to dance some more, 'cause the party goes till 4:00 a.m. Real wildlife doesn't stop when the booze does—the real wild keep going. Seattle needs a new animal in its after-hours scene. And we should all go get into trouble, at least once. KELLY O See also the Homosexual Agenda.
Helms Alee, the Absolute Monarchs, Victory & Associates
(Comet) I like my metal so loud it hurts. I know, I know—it's... wait, what did you say? Did you say something? No? Oh, okay. ANNNY-way. Helms Alee are one of Seattle's loudest three-piece... tree feast? I didn't say tree feast! WHAT? I'm sorry I can't... No, I said THREE-PIECE. Helms Alee. Used to be in Harkonen and These Arms Are Snakes. They're a really loud heavy rock THREE-PIECE. Two girls and one guy. Kinda sludgy and fuzzy. Remember that band Kyuss—they were all soft, then got all super-hard, like "Nar-rar-rarr-RARRR!!!" They're really great live... what? NASCAR? No, hardcore. What did you say? Oh, never mind. I'm kinda deaf. KELLY O
Balmorhea, Benoit Pioulard, Tiny Vipers
(Columbia City Theater) The closing scene in a film—the way the camera gradually pans out and everything slowly fades to black—requires a proper soundtrack. Tonight, three acts approach the wistful air of the narrative conclusion with their own distinctive sounds. Jesy Fortino of Tiny Vipers crafts simple, soft-spoken ballads carrying a haunting weight and an almost chilling finality. Benoît Pioulard, the stage name for solo artist Thomas Meluch, similarly relies on the power of a few guitar chords and hushed vocals to communicate loss, hope, and redemption, but further reinforces the cinematic feel by layering his songs with field recordings. But it's Balmorhea's music that's best suited for the rolling of the credits. Their humble instrumental arrangements of guitar, strings, and piano perfectly encapsulate that sense of drama and closure. BRIAN COOK
AZ, Luck One, Quarter After
(Nectar) See My Philosophy.
Darkest Hour, Born of Osiris, As Blood Runs Black
(Studio Seven) Anyone still remember Atticus? Apparently, the clothing company founded by Mark and Tom from Blink-182 is hella metal, bro. All righty then. Let's do a quick calculation. After 16 years and somewhere near 100-plus riffs, it's safe to say DC metalcore mainstays Darkest Hour owe the At the Gates camp at least a couple royalty checks. To be fair, the quintet was one of the first hardcore bands to latch on to the early '90s Gothenburg sound. But as this sound quickly became a played-out trend, they adapted, fusing even more melody into their formula to ultimately create a dynamic, polished metal sound that continues to move farther away from their initial days of chug-induced ninja pits. Jud jud jud juddity jud jud wee wee jud jud jud. "Bro, get out of my way, I was tryin' to spin kick." Openers Born of Osiris lean more toward the tech-y side of metalcore, while California's As Blood Runs Black keep it slow and low, switching things up with a burly dose of brutally simple deathcore. KEVIN DIERS
Marnie Stern, Tera Melos
(Vera) I think I'm in love. There's something about Marnie Stern's vocal delivery that makes my heart go pitter-pat. I've always been a sucker for the higher-pitched female voice in rock—Tanya Donelly, you used to be so fucking good—especially when there's some snarling attitude to confound the seeming fragility of that voice. But that voice paired with Stern's churning, marching beats is something special; she layers sound into a propulsive engine for her personality. To get a sense of her instrumental powers, listen to her half-minute cover version of the Hawaii Five-0 theme on her MySpace page. Between the weird guitar mojo she lays on the last 10 seconds and the lush layers of guitars she squeezes into the song, you'll understand that there isn't a second's worth of music that Stern can't make more beautiful by adding another sound to the mix. PAUL CONSTANT See also Underage.
Devo, the Octopus Project
(Moore) Devo-lution isn't a theory; it's a reality. As the end of the world looms, who could have guessed that Akron, Ohio's favorite spuds would remain as vital now as when they were acerbic goofballs making weird, punky synth pop 35 years ago? After reuniting in the late '00s, the now-graying band unleashed live front-to-back interpretations of both Q: Are We Not Men? and Duty Now for the Future; last year, the band released Something for Everybody, their first album of new material in almost two decades. While it's unmistakably Devo, the album wears the strange early '80s electronic interpolations of Yello's Claro Que Si and Sparks' In Outer Space on the removable sleeves of their yellow suits. This time, the band will literally have something for everybody, pulling both from new material and the fun-da-mental classics. TRAVIS RITTER See also Stranger Suggests.
Girl Talk, Max Tundra, Junk Culture
(Showbox Sodo) The world's premier mashup artist never fails to ignite a raucous, stage-invading party. Girl Talk's ADHD sample mosaics repurpose snippets of radio hits of many genres along with slightly more obscure chunks of pop/rock/dance-music ephemera to create an ever-flowing champagne river of peaks for people who shamelessly revel in damnably catchy hooks. Tonight's show and the March 16 date are sold out. DAVE SEGAL