This week, our music critics have picked everything from a Death Cab member who's gone disco (Dave Depper), to iconic Japanese party thrashers (Guitar Wolf), to the best way to relive Pink Floyd's peak era (Roger Waters) to outdoor concerts at Marymoor Park, the White River Amphitheatre, and the Woodland Park Zoo. Click through the links below for complete details and music clips, expand your horizons further and check out our complete music calendar, or check out our Pride calendar for everything else happening this week.
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QUALIATIK, Guayaba, Dasychira, Estoc
QUALIATIK, aka Brooklyn vocalist and media artist Arielle Herman, will perform her R&B-reminiscent electronica show with local openers by Guayaba and Estoc plus farther-flung tunes from New York's Dasychira (originally of South Africa).
Pharoah Sanders with William Henderson
Pharoah Sanders hit NYC in 1961. He slept in parks, held his battered tenor saxophone together with rubber bands, and lived on slices of pizza bought with blood-donation money. John Coltrane hired him four years later, and the young man became one of the most controversial players in jazz history, emphasizing noise and passion over notes and chords. On 1967’s Tauhid, Sanders seems to punch a hole through the structure of reality itself, then rend it larger brick by torn-out brick. Coltrane died in 1967, and the younger man mellowed—almost into smooth jazz. I don’t relate to that phase, but Sanders probably moved over to mellow because he had no room left on the pegging-red intensity, short of tossing the horn into a garbage truck. His work with Henderson’s piano doesn’t seem smooth: precise, determined, not noisy, bringing order to soul. A new mutation… a new soul? ANDREW HAMLIN
Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet
Ambrose Akinmusire is a brilliant jazz trumpeter who was born in 1982. His mother is from Mississippi, his father is from Nigeria, and he was raised in the Bay Area. His advanced education in music took place at the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Southern California, and the Monk Institute in Los Angeles, where he was taught by two giants of jazz: Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. Akinmusire has released three albums as a leader so far, two of them with the prestigious Blue Note Records. And his album, The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint, is by far his most ambitious work—not so much as a trumpeter but as a composer. Akinmusire is a trumpeter worth talking about. He never plays the instrument as a beam of sound, never perfectly blows the thing, but is always in the mode of suggestion and abstraction. He is not so much about the trumpet but the idea of a trumpet. Do not miss his show. CHARLES MUDEDE
Maxwell, Common, Ledisi
After 2016's The King and Queen of Hearts World Tour with Mary J. Blige, R&B icon Maxwell is back in town to perform tracks off of his latest album blackSUMMERS'night along with hits and deep cuts from his long-standing career, with guests Common and Ledisi.
(Sandy) Alex G, Japanese Breakfast, Cende
A prolific young songwriter builds a following on Bandcamp and indie-rock “fame” swiftly follows. That’s more or less the trajectory of (Sandy) Alex G, 24-year-old Domino signee Alex Giannascoli, who’s put out records at a frightening rate since his teens. His story recalls that of Car Seat Headrest, the local KEXP darling and favorite of rock fans who want to party like it’s 1987. Giannascoli’s music is also a throwback, sure—it’s hard not to be when we’re talking dudes with guitars in 2017—but his doglegged song structures, offbeat production choices, and reticence to explain the meaning of his often elliptical lyrics make his work come off as a personal document instead of an homage. ANDREW GOSPE
Seu Jorge Presents: The Life Aquatic, A Tribute to David Bowie
I don’t consider myself a Wes Anderson devotee in any way, but I do think that pulling Brazilian artist Seu Jorge for the soundtrack of The Life Aquatic was nothing short of genius. Already an established musician and actor in his home country, Jorge added a layer of retro curiosity and easy joy to well-known Bowie tracks without tacking on the schmaltz that typically goes along with attempting to cover the classics of such a legendary discography. I saw Seu Jorge perform this set, complete with a psychedelic visual tribute to Bowie, in Portland last fall, and I can say with zero hesitation that it ranks as one of my favorite concerts. I’ll be going again this summer with my sister and a Nalgene of wine, so feel free to join me in the zoo’s north meadow for a night of gentle nostalgia and expert musicianship. KIM SELLING
CHARMS are among a burgeoning wave of Seattle post-punk groups writing tumultuous, infernal songs to mirror the dangerous times in which we live. Like some perturbed combo of Siouxsie & the Banshees and Killing Joke, the trio churn out end-time jams that bless these future ruins with surprisingly melodic panache. DAVE SEGAL
Music to my ears: Rather than more Northwest-infused indie rock, a member of Death Cab for Cutie has struck out on his own to make a sort of modern disco (a genre that will never actually die, only morph into a form further and further away from its original genius, now known as festival EDM). The band member in question, Dave Depper, has served as the group’s touring guitarist for the last three years, additionally developing his own style as a session musician with Menomena, Laura Gibson, Fruit Bats, Ray LaMontagne, and many more. This year, however, he’s turned to cranking out the hard SoundCloud electro-pop, with glass brick synth and a pity-party-ready zazz perfect for a gray Miami morning. The singles he’s released in anticipation of his upcoming album, Emotional Freedom Technique, are propulsive, thoughtful, and angling down the path of mid-2000s Jens Lekman meets Oppenheimer Analysis. KIM SELLING
Forms: The Gaslamp Killer & Mad Zach
In September 2013, I found myself at Low End Theory, the world-famous weekly beathead night in Los Angeles. Early in the evening, I said peace to Low End cofounder, Brainfeeder producer/DJ Gaslamp Killer. I couldn’t help asking about his harrowing experience a few months prior—a scooter accident that nearly killed him. He conveyed an intense calm as he described a DMT-vivid scene of violent body horror and hospital creeps—it actually gave me that pit-of-the-stomach sensation of strong psychedelics kicking in, a pretty apt dimension to engage with GLK’s arresting instrumental work. His two LPs—2013’s Breakthrough and last year’s Instrumentalepathy, are concise lysergical strikes that, just like his mixes, pull from obscure avant-garde sources old and new, as much as they do from his own Turkish-Syrian-Latvian-Lithuanian-Mexican-Jewish pedigree. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Guitar Wolf, Isaac Rother & the Phantoms, Mommy Long Legs
From their noisy late-1980s beginnings, Japanese garage-rock upstarts Guitar Wolf have trailblazed through tunnels of feedback amid a 1950s-blessed, rockabilly-meets-sci-fi-B-movie aesthetic. With music meant to be listened to past maximum volume, they invented the term “jet rock ’n’ roll” to describe their fusion of Ramones’ 1977-style punk and feedback-heavy garage rock filtered through an in-the-red lens. After 30 years of touring, Guitar Wolf’s live energy still strikes fear into the hearts of squares, outlasting their Japanese trash invasion contemporaries like Teengenerate even after the 2005 death of GW bassist Billy (Hideaki Sekiguchi). Lovers of wildly-sped-up, out-of-control tempos and incomprehensible noise amid classic punk motifs should find plenty to revel in Guitar Wolf’s semi-controlled chaos. BRITTNIE FULLER
STYX, REO Speedwagon, Don Felder
I have no use for Styx. Their overblown stadium nerf-rock for poodleheaded fules was anathema to me during the band's heyday and life's too short to revisit them for a revision. However, hearing "Lorelei" by chance in the old Cha Cha in 2006 stunned me into appreciation for a song I'd probably heard and quickly clicked off on the radio dozens of times. But I had an epiphany that night. Styx wowed me with the way "Lorelei" builds anticipation with those plinky Phil Glass for Dummies synths and then accelerates into that damnably catchy, uproarious chorus, finally zooming into the stratosphere with the realization that you've found the person with whom you want to live forever. DAVE SEGAL
The J5 (not the one from Gary, Indiana) are probably the most widely known regulars from LA’s influential Good Life Cafe scene. (You should fire up your Hulu app and watch This Is the Life, the Good Life documentary by Selma director Ava DuVernay.) Their jovial, old-school approach and profanity-light songs (possibly owing to the Good Life’s no-cussin’ policy) made them a favorite rap group among the ol’ “people who don’t listen to rap” subset, which is hardly their fault. Though they enjoyed some modest success, the J5 never quite topped the rib-sticking perfection of their debut single “Jayou,” a proof-of-concept track for the old-school-revival style for which they are known—and on which they aptly described themselves as “on some underground, ’75, Wild Style shit.” If they—as 1990s rap dudes flexing ’70s and ’80s styles—go a step beyond the usual definition of the “dinosaur-hopper,” at least they wear it with pride. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Morning Glory Revival, Shitghost, The Fabulous Downey Brothers
Freaks and weirdos, if you’re a fan of DOM/STP-induced weirdness, I’m bettin’ this lineup will qualify as this year’s most rapturous event. So take your pills and get bent by Shit Ghost’s twisted, late-1980s-ish “underwater” goth/experimental nightmarescapes, Astrol Waters’ free-flow poetry over unformed yet tuneful and cerebral passages, and Dr. Quinn and the Medicine Woman distorting your reality by stabbing electronic bleeps pointedly through sheets of static noise. And if all the heavy experimental gets too mental, you can float back down during the more conventional sets from Morning Glory Revival, a melodic indie-rock group, and Sonic Caravan’s still technicolor-affected but melodic late-’80s indie rock. MIKE NIPPER
Vicci Martinez with Norman Baker and The Backroads
Bronze winner of The Voice, Tacoma native, and singer-songwriter besides, Vicci Martinez headlines the Triple Door with opening support from Norman Baker and The Backroads.
Wally Shoup Electric Quartet, Dave Abramson, Phil Wandscher
For free jazz to survive, someone has to hold the line. Other music and even other jazz forms rely on the marketplace and/or patronage. Free jazz, a prickly beast that won’t bow down to expectations and often won’t meet the listener even halfway, needs people to push. Alto saxophonist Wally Shoup pushes. He pushes his collaborators into listening to one another and enriching one another and occasionally fighting one another, almost all within free improvisation’s stipulations. He set up with drummer Paul Kikuchi in the Cascade Tunnel. He’s toured Europe solo, braving crowds alone with his sax. I don’t know what his “electric quartet” will bring, but mystery adds to the fun. Diminished Men’s Dave Abramson opens on solo drums; Jesse Sykes’s guitarist, Phil Wandscher, follows on southpaw solo six-string. ANDREW HAMLIN
It’s difficult, as Americans, to get a good bead on the cultural importance of Bob Marley in his native Jamaica and to reggae and dub as musical institutions. On the one hand, he was the genre’s great popularizer. On the other hand, “posthumous dorm poster icon” is a dubious legacy. Look, then, to his children, musicians and performers in their father’s vein, for a less historically tainted view of his music’s power. And while personally I prefer the hiphop consciousness of his youngest offspring, Damian, it is eldest son, Ziggy, who most definitely carries his father’s torch. With 18 records (one unreleased) to his name, Ziggy is as prolific as Bob, and one day may be as beloved. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Christeene and 'Da Boys, Sashay, DJ Mister Sister
While I do not usually condone FOMO, I highly suggest you not miss out on this train wreck of a shitshow. While it's always been hard to describe quite what exactly a CHRISTEENE is, I'll go with: Austin-based stank-terror-drag phenomenon in a sweat-matted fright wig and uncomfortably blue contacts. She makes hardcore electronic music/filthy dance pop (check her NSFAnywhere videos online); the raunchy live show sometimes involves a giant cloth vagina, but will most definitely feature her more-than-half-naked backup dancers, T Gravel and C Baby, busting all the choreography. Expect a healthy dose of butt cheeks and take tomorrow off. EMILY NOKES
Easy Star All-Stars, Georgetown Orbits, Valley Green
There’s a big difference between bands that play set lists of cover songs at your local watering hole and bands that pay reverent tribute to artists by reinterpreting their material into something that sounds fresh but still resembles the source. Easy Star All-Stars are among the latter. The NYC-Jamaica band—a rotating ensemble led by producer/musician Michael Goldwasser—has worked up dub-reggae versions of select artists since 2003, adding occasional electronic flourishes and tempos to the mix. So far, they’ve delivered (in order of release) Dub Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon), Radiodread (Radiohead’s OK Computer), Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band (The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s), and Easy Star’s Thrillah (Michael Jackson, Thriller). The first two are, by far, the best. In case you were worried about any creative inadequacy, Easy Star have also released a few albums of originals, too. LEILANI POLK
Guardian Alien, Stereo Embers, Kim Virant
Any musician who emulates late-1990s/early-’00s Boredoms automatically earns my respect and undivided attention. For example, Brooklyn’s Guardian Alien, who feature maniacal drummer Greg Fox (ex-Liturgy, ex-Dan Deacon) and vocals/electronics manipulator Alexandra Drewchin. They came out of the gate with 2012’s maximalist psychedelic odyssey See the World Given to a One Love Entity, which captures the same centrifugal frenzy as Boredoms’ Vision Creation Newsun. That is not easy to do, people. Spiritual Emergency followed in 2014, taking a more insular yet no less brain-boggling assault on avant-rock decorum. It’s usually the case with these Boredoms-inspired groups that their live performances exceed what they achieve on record. Which means you should rearrange your life in order to catch Guardian Alien’s outward-bound excursions into sublime sonic madness. DAVE SEGAL
Mike Servito is known as a “DJ’s DJ,” but it’s taken years of toil as an in-house DJ for the Ghostly International label and as a resident at New York’s legendary Bunker club to ascend to the international DJ elite, getting booked at prestigious venues like Berlin’s Panorama Bar and performing at Amsterdam’s Dekmantel Festival. In that regard, like his good friend the Black Madonna, who has also recently become a hot commodity, Servito is no overnight success. A student of Detroit techno/house legend Mike Huckaby, he made a name for himself playing famed parties like San Francisco’s Honey Soundsystem and Chicago’s Hugo Ball. All of which means, if you love Servito’s brand of highbrow, high-energy techno, then this is the must-attend event of the month. NICK ZURKO
Troller, Raica, DJ Kate
Austin, Texas, trio Troller sound like they own no clothing that isn’t black. You may also jump to that conclusion after hearing their self-titled 2012 album, which broods in an electro-goth miasma, as Amber Goers’s prettily godforsaken vocals drone over methodical drum-machine beats and synths set to glum. Troller’s 2016 album, Graphic, skews a bit darker, making Zola Jesus’s early releases sound like Ariana Grande. It’s a bracing trudge through an existential morass, kind of like Cocteau Twins’ Head Over Heels played at 8 rpm. Peak-era 4AD-tronica, anyone? DAVE SEGAL
The Woggles, The Loons, Sinister Six, The Primitive Five
Garage-rock revivalism seemingly will never go out of style. Of the many retro musical fetishes, it remains one of the most resilient. Because the original template is so cool, it can withstand countless iterations, as long as the musicians in question have studied their history diligently—or cleverly distorted the genre’s core elements. Atlanta’s the Woggles have been garage-rocking since 1990, and they’ve done their homework. They’ve nailed the sneering vocals and lyrics about “little girls,” forged the memorable, sinewy guitar and bass riffs, and mastered the optimal tempos for fucking shit up. If you’ve ever owned any of the Nuggets comps, you’ve heard variations of Woggles songs, but no matter. The Woggles are alive and thriving now, and the Count Five and Mouse & the Traps aren’t, so take what you can get, garage rocker. DAVE SEGAL
Paradiso is the PNW's premier festival of WUB-WUB-WUB, colloquially known as brostep, also called EDM, which is short for "electronic dance music" (you're welcome, grandpa). Big name headliners like Tiesto, Yellow Claw, Zeds Dead, and Seven Lions will grace the stage, along with 57 other acclaimed DJs and producers. Glow sticks will be wielded. Hearts broken. Vape pens smoked.
Who are these people willing to pay $67-$146 to see Santana in 2017? Are they aging hippies who tripped to Latin-psych mindbombs like Santana and Abraxas? Are they guitar aficionados enamored of Carlos's fluid, conflagratory riffs? Are they spiritual souls who still play Señor Santana's collaborative LPs with jazz immortals John McLaughlin (Love Devotion Surrender) and Alice Coltrane (Illuminations), and fusionoid gems like Caravanserai? Are they eternal optimists hoping to catch the band do one more storming version of Babatunde Olatunji's "Jingo"? Or are they affluent, "Smooth" types warmed by Santana's late-career hits, which were pallid simulacra of their peak material? Dunno, but once the florid, crystalline solo for "Black Magic Woman" arises, all of these questions will dissolve into nothingness. DAVE SEGAL
23rd Annual Olympia Experimental Music Festival
This three-day event in our state’s capital can be viewed as a counterpart to Seattle’s Debacle Fest: Both boast variety, excellence, and reasonably priced tickets. DAVE SEGAL
Cathedrals XVII: Sara Watkins & Langhorne Slim
"Imagine if a young Bob Dylan—with the face of a young Tom Waits—had been more preoccupied with 'the ladies' than social change, and you'll get the picture. The beauty of Langhorne Slim is his ability to make old-school music seem vividly contemporary with an appeal that defies genre." Thus wrote former Stranger contributor Ma'Chell Duma Lavassar about Slim, who will perform at the 17th entry in the Cathedrals music series, in which a diverse array of musicians and artists perform stripped-down versions of their work within the bowels of the great St. Mark's Cathedral. About Sara Watkins, NPR wrote: "Pop and rock have long histories of fetishizing youthful rebellion, but Watkins came up in a bluegrass world of generation-spanning festivals, picking contests, music camps and mentors that channeled youthful energy toward mastering time-tested craft and respecting musical elders."
Madaraka is your one-stop shop for feasting your eyes on African fashion and your ears on the music of Ghanaian star Robert Dawuri, Ethiopian American singer Meklit Hadero, South Sudanese refugee turned globally recognized Ruka music founder Dynamq, and R&B artist Otieno Terry, plus backing by Big World Breaks and Madaraka house band Pyramid. There'll also be a screening of Madaraka: The Documentary, which will show you how the festival empowers locals. Proceeds from the festival go to One Vibe Africa, which runs programs for youth in Kisumu, Kenya.
Pain in the Grass 2017
Nü metal—it’s back, in case the Nookie DJ night at Chop Suey wasn’t a loud enough signal. The maligned early-’00s fusion of hiphop and groove metal appeals to the angsty teens in us, and does so with all the subtlety of a chain saw. For whatever reason, glorified turn-of-the-century throwback tour Pain in the Grass just sounds fun this year. Maybe it’s because headliners Korn just released their best album in a decade—not that they’d set the bar very high. Maybe it’s because in the middle of the bill sits Deep South Eminem disciple Yelawolf. Maybe it’s because Corey Taylor of Stone Sour and Slipknot is, plainly speaking, a kickass rock singer and there just aren’t that many left playing amphitheaters. Our angsty teenage selves were wrong about many things, but maybe not about music. JOSEPH SCHAFER
Roger Waters is, of course, a founding member of Pink Floyd, one of the greatest psychedelic rock bands of all time, genre pioneers that formed in the 1960s and came up hard in the 1970s with albums like The Wall, Animals, and The Dark Side of the Moon. Both Waters and former bandmate and sporadic foe David Gilmour have issued original solo material (actually, Gilmour released a few albums and toured under the Pink Floyd flag until 1994, which is partially why he and Waters were at odds), but both have continued to hit the road on the Floyd gravy train, because everyone still wants to hear those old songs in a live setting. On this tour, Waters—who’s 73 but still rocks like a fuckin’ champ—claims he’ll be playing 75 percent old material, 25 percent new, “but it will all be connected by a general theme.” Glowing reviews back up his claim; he culls from all three of the aforementioned LPs as well as Meddle and Wish You Were Here, throws in some original jams, and sets it all against dazzling visuals and a laser light show. LEILANI POLK
Rebelution, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Collie Buddz, Hirie, DJ Mackle
Okay, we got reggae, we got summer-sun vibes, and we got legal pot—which means we got pot clouds thicker than chili. Bring the sunscreen and the shades, keep yourself hydrated, go easy on the booze, and you should have yourself a irie kickoff to summer. Rebelution call it the Good Vibes Summer tour, which means revolution will most likely not break out. They hail from University of California, Santa Barbara, so they pour the shore, the sand, and the surf into the premium move-the-crowd grooves. DJ Mackle is not Macklemore, so don’t be fooled! He does like to pose with his shirt off, like Kid Rock, but he suggests, from his website, a gentler soul (fingers crossed). ANDREW HAMLIN